May 24, 2022 13:05
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday said his new government will stop bending over backwards to appease North Korea.
"The age of appeasing North Korea is over," Yoon told CNN in his first international media interview since taking office on May 10. He added the ball is now in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's court whether to start dialogue with Seoul.
Yoon pointed out that regular military exercises with the U.S. are "the basic duty of every military around the world to maintain their readiness." But for now he ruled out the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula by saying, "In the case of an attack, the U.S. would provide assistance including missile defense and its 'nuclear umbrella.'"
But he distanced himself from the previous administration's strenuous efforts to keep North Korea happy or at least calm. "Just to escape temporarily North Korean provocation or conflict is not something that we should do," he said. "This kind of approach over the past five years has proven to be a failure."
Asked about North Korea's 15 missile tests so far this year, he said, "South Korea and its allies stand ready for any acts of North Korean provocation." But he added the ultimate goal is "shared and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," and added, "I do not believe that enhancing [North Korea's] nuclear capability is helpful and conducive to maintaining international peace."
CNN reported that despite this stance he does not want North Korea to "collapse."
The broadcaster said Yoon could seek some kind of affiliation with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, an informal anti-China alliance consisting of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S., in areas including vaccines, climate change and emerging technology. "However, he stopped short of saying the South would seek official Quad membership, saying it was something they would 'continue to consider,'" CNN added.
Meanwhile, Yoon was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of the year alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and "Squid Game" director Hwang Dong-hyuk.
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