The growing threat from North Korea has South Koreans wanting nuclear weaponry themselves.
While most South Korean people do not anticipate a renewed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, an increasing number, roughly 60 percent, according to a recent Gallup poll, support the idea of a nuclear-armed South Korea. Younger South Korean people tended to oppose nuclear rearmament while older members of society were much more supportive.
The ruling liberal party rejects calls for the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons, which were removed from South Korea in 1991. Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a conservative leader who was removed from office earlier this year for corruption, asked former President Barack Obama after North Korea’s fifth nuclear test to redeploy nuclear weapons in South Korea, but he denied her request due to his opposition to the spread of nuclear weapons.
North Korea recently tested a possible staged thermonuclear weapon on Sept. 3, reigniting the tactical nuclear weapons debate in the South. (RELATED: South Korea Debates Bringing Tactical Nukes Back As North Korean Bombs Get Bigger)
Public sentiment in South Korea is shifting as North Korean provocations become more frequent and more dangerous, according to South Korean media. Even liberals are considering nuclear rearmament. Of the over 300 respondents in the recent poll who identified themselves as liberals, 47 percent approved of stationing nuclear weapons in South Korea, according to The Korea Herald.
“The liberals, who were thought to be relatively more friendly toward the North, are now turning their backs, as they see their northern neighbor is not so brotherly anymore,” a Gallup Korea analyst revealed. “Despite President Moon Jae-in’s suggestions for dialogue and peaceful approaches, the North is not taking the kindness and has only become a threat.”
A number of South Koreans told The Korea Herald that their peace-loving nation has become more vulnerable as the belligerent country to the north has become a nuclear-armed military power. Some argued that South Korea has become weak, unable to handle its own affairs.
General Vincent Brooks, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, recently stated that the U.S. does not support the redeployment of tactical nukes in South Korea, a move that would increase friction with Beijing and Moscow.
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