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Intervention of Dr. Yevgeny Kim at the Think Tank 2022 Forum

Intervention of Dr. Yevgeny Kim (Kim Young Woong), Leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies, Institute of the Far East, Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES), Russia, at the Opening Session of the Think Tank 2022 Forum on 1 February, 2022.

The situation around the Korean Peninsula now is generally not particularly alarming, although it may change during this year, and perhaps soon.

The situation is not particularly alarming because the United States, the European Union, NATO have become prisoners of their own inflated and hyped story about some intentions of Russia to invade Ukraine. Therefore, they are now not so interested in Korea and the situation around the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has made infrequent tests of short-range surface-to-surface missiles and cruise missiles there, and the launches of hypersonic missiles with short range, so that they do not threaten the United States, and it makes no sense for North Korea to demonstrate its military capabilities against other states. Although it must be said that by launching a hypersonic missile from a mobile platform, North Korea has shown the fairly successful development of various methods for launching such missiles, which, however, are at the initial stage of production.

On the other hand, it is impossible not to pay attention to the fact that both Japan and South Korea have been rapidly increasing spending on military purposes in recent years. So, for example, the annual increase in South Korea's military spending in recent years is 7.5%, and according to the defense plan for 2021-2022, the annual military spending of the Republic of Korea will be more than the spending of the second military power in the world - Russia. Also, Japan spends more than Russia on military purposes, though, according to its constitution, it should not fight with anyone.

In addition, in October of last year, South Korea launched a rocket with a model or layout satellite that weighed half a ton. At the same time, the first stage of the South Korean missile had a thrust force of 300 tons, which makes it possible for it to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles that are powerful in terms of the dimensions and striking capabilities of warheads.

As you know, in May 2021, the United States officially lifted all restrictions on the range and weight of a payload launched with a rocket from South Korea. The actual presence of an intercontinental ballistic missile in Japan has long been confirmed by the withdrawal of satellites from the Japanese cosmodrome.

Until the United States throws a tantrum on North Korea, as it does with Russia's alleged attack on Ukraine or China's equally mythical intention to attack Taiwan, North Korea will quietly improve its defense systems, but the focus will be on economic objectives.

The recent Plenum of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, as well as the meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, and the meetings and conferences held by agricultural workers, showed that it is more important for the DPRK this year to reinforce the achievements of the past year. For example, the construction of 10,000 apartments in Pyongyang annually in beautiful high-rise comfortable buildings, as well as the completion of the construction of the exemplary county town of Samjien, the construction of housing for workers at the Komdok mining enterprise.

Three days ago, the North Korean leader was at the construction site of a large greenhouse complex for a cooperative in the province of South Hamgyong, by the way, where the father of current South Korean President Moon Jae-in was born and raised. And he entrusted its building to army builders. So, the North Korean army is not only engaged in defense, but also actively involved in the economic development of the country, which confirms the point of view that it is not preparing to attack. And now the most important problem in the country is to seriously increase the harvest of rice and wheat, respectively, by reducing the share of corn in the diet of the population. This is a very serious task.

Much of the situation on the Korean peninsula will depend on the actions of the United States, as well as who will win the presidential election in South Korea. As you know, for the period 2019-2021, that is, for 3 years, the United States conducted about 250 joint military exercises in South Korea. Why so many in foreign territory?

I want to remind you that in 2018, then-President D. Trump spoke about the uselessness of military exercises in South Korea and promised the North Korean leader in Singapore to significantly reduce them, and to completely cancel the exercises that irritate the northerners. In addition, during the same time, the United States imposed 20 different sanctions against the DPRK. Although North Korea has not conducted nuclear tests and has not conducted test launches of intercontinental missiles for 4 years, the United States vetoed two times the proposals submitted by Russia and China to the UN Security Council to ease sanctions against the DPRK, at least on humanitarian aspects.

5 years ago, when President Moon Jae-in took up office, he set as his task to achieve by May 2022 the decision to transfer the operational command of the South Korean troops into the hands of the South Korean army itself in wartime. President Trump gave at least lip service to President Moon's plans positively, and substantive negotiations began to sign such an agreement and implement it.

For the sake of this, South Korea signed an agreement on the purchase of expensive American heavy fighters of the F-35 generation, for more than $100 million each, and agreed that a joint command of the American and South Korean forces would be created, headed by a South Korean 4-star a general who is not in military service.

However, a perfectly reasonable question arose, what would he do if his deputy was an American four- or three-star general in military service and who, of course, would not take into account the opinion of a person who would not have any levers of military influence. As a military retiree, he is a retiree.

In addition, if a candidate wins the presidential election on March 9 in South Korea, who declares the possibility of launching a preventive strike against the DPRK, as well as importing American nuclear weapons into the territory of their country or additionally deploying the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, then the situation will be very disturbing. Russia's analysts do not expect any military conflict between China and Taiwan initiated by China until at least 2035.

China, which determines policy with a long-term vision, building its policy not for 4 or 5 years, but for a long period of time, there is no need to use force against Taiwan, because, the natural development of economic and cultural ties between China and Taiwan will gradually lead to the unification of China with Taiwan. Another issue is that I am skeptical about the prospect of unification of Korea, as long as there are politicians who claim the presidency from the country's two largest parties, make such irresponsible statements regarding pre-emptive strikes.

Russia's position on the situation around the Korean Peninsula remains the same: we proceed from the need to ensure equal security for all countries in the region, to renounce attempts to impose only its own model of life on all countries in the region, to renounce attempts to circumvent international law, replacing them with some invented rules themselves.

We are confident that only through political and diplomatic means can peace be achieved, and this means negotiations, step-by-step decisions and compromises based on the principle of equal and indivisible security and respect for the right of each state to live by its own laws, respecting and observing international law. There is no need to demonize anyone; we should respect and observe the right of every people to live according to their traditions and culture, in good neighborliness and cooperation, without placing illegal barriers on them. Then there will be lasting peace in the region and in the world.

 

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