North Korea increasingly poses a grave threat to its southern neighbor and the world by conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests. Amid this escalating tension on and around the Korean Peninsula, South Koreans have started voicing their concerns about a nuclear-armed North Korea.
A Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) poll conducted September 8–9 shows that 68.2 percent of those surveyed believe that U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn in 1991, should be redeployed to South Korea to protect the country from Pyongyang’s growing nuclear threat. A Gallup poll conducted September 5–7 also found that 60 percent of the respondents said that South Korea should arm itself with nuclear weapons. Extrapolating from the polls, some people could believe that an absolute majority of the South Koreans favors nuclear rearmament in response to a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Indeed, backed by the results of these latest polls, the right-wing Liberty Korea Party (LKP)—the main opposition party in South Korea—is further stepping up its demands for the redeployment of tactical nukes, not only to the South Korean government but also to the Trump administration. Having already adopted bringing back U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea as its party platform last month, the LKP argues that a “nuclear balance” is the best way to guarantee South Korea’s security in this dire situation. The LKP’s push for nuclear rearmament is in stark contrast with President Moon Jae-in’s policy of upholding a long-lasting principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which he reconfirmed during his latest interview with CNN.