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Why South Korea's Liberals Are Defense Hawks

Added 10-22-21 11:34:02am EST - “Seoul's new missile technologies have both Pyongyang and Beijing in mind.” - Foreignpolicy.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Foreignpolicy.com: “Why South Korea’s Liberals Are Defense Hawks”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Argument: Why South Korea’s Liberals Are Defense Hawks Why South Korea’s Liberals Are Defense Haw... | View Comments ()

If it were happening in the other Korea, the manic pace of weapons development in South Korea would have caused global alarm. On Sept. 15, just hours after North Korea’s test of two short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea unveiled at least five different missile technologies: a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a bunker-busting ballistic missile, a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, a long-range air-to-surface missile, and a solid-fuel engine for space rockets. South Korean President Moon Jae-in was in attendance for these tests, immediately after Moon welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was visiting Seoul.

This round of testing put South Korea in a small elite group when it comes to missile technology. South Korea’s SLBM was fired by the ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho, a domestically produced attack submarine that became the first air independent power (AIP) submarine to fire an underwater ballistic missile. Because AIP submarines are virtually silent, the ability to fire an SLBM out of an AIP submarine is considered a “game changer.” South Korea is just the eighth country in the world to develop an SLBM; the other seven—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, India, China, and North Korea—all have nuclear weapons. It’s not unimaginable that South Korea could follow suit.

It shouldn’t be surprising that all this is happening during a liberal South Korean presidency. Peace through strength and autonomous self-defense have been consistent themes in South Korean liberals’ defense policy, despite the caricatures painted by conservatives. Yet in foreign-policy circles outside South Korea, confusion persists as to why a supposedly dovish Moon is engaged in a furious arms race—in part because right-wing narratives crafted in Seoul are often picked up in Washington.

If it were happening in the other Korea, the manic pace of weapons development in South Korea would have caused global alarm. On Sept. 15, just hours after North Korea’s test of two short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea unveiled at least five different missile technologies: a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a bunker-busting ballistic missile, a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, a long-range air-to-surface missile, and a solid-fuel engine for space rockets. South Korean President Moon Jae-in was in attendance for these tests, immediately after Moon welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was visiting Seoul.

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