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North Korea Grows Aggressive - What Can the South Koreans Do?
North Korea : Is anything working ?
When North Korea current leader Kim Jong Un was make head of the country after the passing of his father Kim Jong Il, the hermit country has consistently increase it's assertiveness by launching more ballistic missiles. Other than ballistic missiles, the country also seems to have been experimenting nuclear warheads with a recent nuclear test with a strength of 120 kilotons. With a combination both, more quarters are worries at the prospect of North Korea being able to pack a nuclear warhead on the missiles and launch at other territories including the USA.
Sanctions and rhetoric have so far been the main feature between South Korea, Japan, US and China over the issue of North Korea. After passing rounds of sanctions at the UN with the support of China a key ally, nothing seems to be stopping the aggressive tracks of Kim Jong Un. Meanwhile diplomacy has also seems to be pointless as mediators and diplomacy efforts have been overshadowed by more missile launches and nuclear tests.
However this issue has grown even more complex given the region's political constraints and the big powers that are at play against another. We would have to look at a deeper level on what other options could countries take other than economic sanctions and diplomacy which has so far fail.
South Korea : Their options
Below North Korea is South Korea which is an economically developed country that has grown much in a generation. A country famed for it's K-pop and Korean dramas, they also produce some of the world's biggest companies such as Samsung, LG and etc. A full blown war with North Korea is always on the table, and it will happen as long as a lone rocket or missile from North Korea hits South Korean soil.
A military option such as war would always be a social and economic disaster and could also regressed the the country back to a 100 years. Given South Korea's large imprint in the technology sector, any outbreaks of war could drasticaally affect the global economy. Therefore, a war is just too costly and there has been doubts on whether the country could find the strength to rebuild it's post-war economy.
Thus far South Korea could only adopt strategies that emphasizes on a defensive nature such as installing a US developed THAAD system which is a anti missile defense system design to shoot down any rockets from North Korea. However, there has been also doubts that THAAD is an effective and fully functioning system which could provide the necessary defense for the entire country.
Al-tough South Korea boasts a highly capable military, it still needs to depend on foreign allies such as US for their defense needs. However, this dependency on the US has also been making China unsettled as it sees the growing presence and proximity of US military a threat to it's sovereignty. As such this could highly affects China's outlook and response towards their ally North Korea.
Other than military options, the new South Korean President Moon Jae In seems to be also ready to open the diplomacy channel between the North and the South provided that the North halts these provocative acts such as missile launches and nuclear tests.
So for the South Koreans, they would have to adopt a mix of military and diplomacy option that would underpin their approach in dealing with North Korea. But a key concern areas to watch, would be to ensure that it does not complicate it's relationship with China another big power in the region.
Given China relationship with North Korea, the South Koreans could always find a helping hand in China to ensure that the Chinese would be able to communicate to the North Koreans about this issue in another manner. Furthermore, China in recent years has also been a important trading partner of South Korea.
North Korea and Kim Jong Un, doesn't seem to be abandoning their ambitions of a country that is nuclear capable with missile ready to launch. The South koreans must maintain an utmost balance between military and diplomacy in handling North Korea while also ensuring that all sides whether US and China could cooperate together in tacking this growing threat.