In the opinion of many Koreans in the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south, especially the conservatively oriented senior citizens, Minister of National Defense Song Young-mu appears to be having a tough time trying to keep his own ideas and those of the established generation in Korea on the topic of national defense. Naturally, Song is seen having a difficult time between the present government of President Moon Jae-in filled with many radically oriented ministers and the traditional conservatives of the right wing.
On Feb. 28, Minister Song openly criticized the views of Presidential Special Policy Advisor Moon Jung-in on National Unification, Foreign Affairs & National Security when Moon Jung-in said, “The Combined ROK-US joint military exercise will take place in the first week of April.”
Song also took issue with the statement of Moon Jung-in who said at a seminar in Washington D.C. on March 27, “The US Forces in Korea must withdraw from the ROK if and when President Moon Jae-in tells them to do so.”
The obviously conservative-minded Minister Song is seen having a hard time keeping up his job in the middle of progressively-minded aides of President Moon. However, many people in Korea, especially the conservatives and the established generation, feel that Song should do his best and keep the job no matter how tough the it may be surrounded by progressively minded Presidential aides.
At a meeting with members of the National Assembly on Feb. 28, Defense Minister Song said that the Cheonan warship of the ROK was torpedoed and sunk by North Korea’s Yeono-class midget submarine belonging to the Reconnaissance General Bureau of North Korea commanded by Kim Yong-chul who came to Seoul leading the North Korean delegation to attend the Pyongchang Winter Olympic Games.
Minister Song, however, declined to confirm if there was evidence linking the attack to Kim. Kim was in charge of the Reconnaissance General Bureau of the North Korean regime in March 2010 when the ROK warship was attacked and sunk.
At an emergency inquiry session at the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly in Seoul, however, Song said, “We can speculate about things in North Korea, but we cannot confirm exactly what happened there at the time.”
It is not clear how long the conservatively minded Minister Song can keep up his job in the middle of overwhelmingly large number of progressives in the government. However, many people hope that Song will outlive the tough period of time in the Moon government to keep the national defense and security strong against the backdrop of the incomparably large number of radically minded people in the present government.
The North Korean regime seems somewhat less ‘warlike’ at the present time perhaps due to the toughest-ever posture taken by President Donald Trump of the United States.
However, the best solution for Chairman Kim Jong Un seems to be his use of the well-meaning proposals of President Moon and try to peacefully co-exist with the ROK in the South, who can do a lot of good things to North Korea with its overwhelmingly large economic strength.
The GNI of the ROK is over 40 times that of the North and in this situation President Moon surely can do many good things for Chairman Kim and North Korea—as long as Kim and his regime do not try to ‘conquer’ the south with its nuclear weapons.