President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea visited Camp Humphreys, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on April 7, 2022, and expressed his strong will to positively respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
At this meeting, President-elect Yoon said, "As President-elect of the Republic Korea, the first unit I visited was Camp Humphreys, the heart of the ROK-U.S. military alliance."
Yoon was also quoted by Korean and English media in Seoul as saying: “Strong military alliance between Korea and the United States is the surest deterrence to North Korean military provocations and the firm alliance between the two countries and the combined defense posture in very important to cope with the serious international situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula, including the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by the North Korean regime.”
Yoon then said, “The freedom and prosperity of the Republic of Korea that we enjoy today was made possible because of the dedication and sacrifices made by many members of the USFK and other members of the United Nations Command during the Korean War (1950-3).”
Yoon wrote in the guestbook, “Pyeongtaek is a symbol of the strong ROK-U.S. alliance.
Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commander of the United Nations Command, the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and the USFK Command, responded to Yoon’s remarks to the effect that he thought that failure to fulfill its role for stability on the Korean Peninsula is a negligence of duty and emphasized the importance of an ‘iron-clad alliance’ between the two countries.
The USFK side issued a separate press release stating that General LaCamera expressed the firm will of the UNC/ROK-US CFC, which are providing a strong combined defense posture to maintain peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Camp Humphreys is a key USFK base in Korea where the United Nations Command, USFK Command, Special Warfare Command, Eighth U.S. Army, and 2nd Infantry Division are located.
Former South Korean Presidents such as Madam Park Geun-hye, Lee Myung-bak, and the late Roh Moo-hyun have visited the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command in Yongsan when they were elected, but this is the first time for a President-elect to visit Camp Humphreys on a separate schedule.
Secretary General Shin Jong-woo of the Korea Defense Security Forum, a private research institute, showed the new government's strong will to respond to North Korea's recent ICBM provocation and a series of actions that escalate tensions, such as making the first public statement about the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the ROK.
Shin said, “It seems that President-elect Yoon visited the Combined Forces Command unusually, recognizing that the means to counter the increasing threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea is to be supported by a strong military force through the ROK-U.S. alliance.”
Jeong Seong-yoon, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, “It is difficult to resume negotiations on denuclearization as North Korea is expected to engage in an aggressive nuclear drive for the time being.”
Researcher Jeong said, “The possibility of North Korea’s provocation is high and the intensity of the escalation can only be reduced by significantly increasing the initial level of coercion.”
Jeong also said, “In the past, such a mechanism was established by applying coercion or sanctions and raising the level of sanctions little by little if North Korea violated them. If this happens, I think the highest priority is to work with the United States to raise the level of sanctions to the maximum possible extent.”
In particular, Professor Park pointed out the seriousness of North Korea's nuclear and missile advancement and said that the US-Korea-Japan missile defense network should be linked to strengthen its response capability.
Meanwhile, Unification Minister Lee In-young, in a video congratulatory speech at the conference, urged North Korea to come to the forum of dialogue, saying, "It would be very unfortunate for itself and for the future of the nation if North Korea chose nuclear and missile programs while neglecting dialogue."