On July 27, South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young-moo briefed President Moon Jae-in on “Defense Reform 2.0,” an expansive initiative to restructure and modernize Korea’s defense. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has released seven proposals on specific agendas, most recently announcing plans to renovate military housing and facilities on August 16. The government is highly invested in military reform, but the array of modernization plans and restructuring raises questions about its financial feasibility and efficacy in improving Korea’s defense posture.
In South Korea, defense policy is often controversial, as the case of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system shows. THAAD was seen as an environmental and regional threat, and its deployment faced fierce opposition, including local protests and economic retaliation from China. However, THAAD was also considered effective in deterring North Korea’s missile threats and so was eventually deployed last September. More generally, South Korean defense policy is formed against a complex political background, with constant North Korean threats, memory of an oppressive 30-year military regime, and mandatory enlistment issues. These contribute to compelling arguments made by both conservative and progressive parties.
This article was originally published by The Diplomat on August 27, 2018. Read the full article here.
By Sungyoung Jang, Research Intern with the East Asia Program. Sungyoung is also an Asan Academy Fellow.