June 02, 2020

As U.S. shifts inward, S.Korea talks going nuclear
Non-interventionist, protectionist trends in U.S. leave Seoul thinking deterrence

You may never have heard of Chung Mong-jun, though it is a name you should probably remember. Chung is the son of the late Chung Ju-yung (the founder of Hyundai). Chung the younger is a prominent member of the ruling Saenuri Party in South Korea, a former supporter of the late Roh Moo-hyun and generally a pro-corporate pragmatist. He has served as a member of the National Assembly since the late 1980s. He was also the mastermind behind South Korea’s successful bid for the 2002 World Cup that it cohosted with Japan. He is now probably the leading advocate of a movement on the right for South Korea to leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and develop an independent nuclear deterrent.

He is no quiet advocate either: Just this morning another article appeared in the leading right-wing daily, Chosun Ilbo, citing his blog in which he says: “We have done all we can with North Korea and China, and accepted as much as we can. Now is the time to find an alternative … I am not suggesting we immediately leave the NPT, what I am saying is that we explain to the outside world how the NPT system has failed to stop North Korea’s nuclear development, and how we put in place policies that allow us to exercise our rights.” Chung is no fringe right-wing activist; he is a top member of the ruling party.