South Korea should further strengthen the alliance with the United States and put greater pressure on North Korea if it wants to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump from going to war with the communist nation, an opposition party leader said Thursday.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min, head of the conservative minor opposition Bareun Party, made the remark during a meeting of party leaders, noting that Washington's withdrawal of Korea expert Victor Cha from consideration for ambassador to South Korea shows Trump's North Korea policy is much more hard-line than expected.
Cha had all but been officially nominated to be Trump's first ambassador to South Korea, with Washington asking for Seoul's diplomatic consent, known as "agrement," to his appointment last year. But his nomination was derailed at the last minute amid reports of differences over how to deal with North Korea.
Media reports have said that China expressed opposition to the idea of the U.S. undertaking a "preventive war" against the North, known as a "bloody nose" strike. Cha also objected to the U.S. tearing up the free trade deal with the South, according to the reports.
These reports, if confirmed, suggest that the Trump administration is considering military action against the North in a much more serious manner than thought, despite widespread concern that a military strike against the North could quickly escalate into a full-scale war and result in massive casualties in the South.
"Victor Cha's withdrawal is an incident that presages how the Trump administration will respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile (threats)," Yoo said. "If President Trump disapproved of even Victor Cha, who has been known as a hawk, we have to think seriously about its meaning."
Yoo also stressed that the U.S. fears no war.
"The only way to prevent a U.S.-started war is persuasion through the Korea-U.S. alliance and sanctions and pressure against the North," he said. "If the government of President Moon Jae-in fails to do this, we would be faced with a new 'Korea passing' where the U.S. bypasses South Korea and launches an attack on the North."