By Robert H. Kim
Professor Emeritus, Western Washington University
Despite international sanctions and warnings, North Korea conducted its fifth round of nuclear tests on Sept. 9, threatening the security of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the world. The international community surmises that North Korean leader Kim Jung-eun continues to conduct nuclear tests despite international sanctions because its so-called “nuclear capability” will eventually lead to a favorable outcome. The reason for this is the conviction that “China will never abandon North Korea, no matter what bad actions it takes.”
Although China knows that the deployment of the U.S. built missile-defense system known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is paramount to the security of South Korea against North Korean nuclear and ballistic missiles threats, it has in fact taken to criticizing the South Korean government and turning a blind eye to the North Korean nuclear threat.
Over the past several years, South Korea and China have had mutually beneficial and amicable economic relations. It is desirable that China take the opportunity of North Korea’s fifth nuclear test to establish a new policy. By showing understanding for the deployment of THAAD and firmly opposing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development program, China can open doors to a new era of peace and economic prosperity in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula.
Some might be concerned that North Korea’s nuclear tests will negatively impact South Korea’s economy. However, Boeing, Microsoft, and other Seattle-based global corporations are not worried about any immediate consequences, but rather future issues. In reality, “predictive modeling” concluded that the effects of North Korea’s nuclear tests on South Korea’s stock market and economy were limited.
On Sept. 9, the South Korean stock market closed with the won/dollar exchange rate increasing by 5.8 won to 1,098.4 won and the Korea Composite Stock Price Index dropping 1.25 percent to 2,037.87. Economists assessed that the rise of U.S. interest rates and North Korea’s nuclear test were limited factors. In addition, Fitch and Moody’s recently praised South Korea’s strong and stable economic development, as well as its sound foreign policy and finances. If China joins forces with such strong economies, such as South Korea and the United States, unparalleled economic prosperity can be achieved in Northeast Asia.
We have high hopes that North Korea’s fifth nuclear test will result in opposition, thereby leading to a new era of high security cooperation between South Korea and China.