Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers

The Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidential primary Moon Jae-in makes a speech at an event to declare their fair contest in the partyÕs presidential primary in Seoul, South Korea, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Yeganeh Torbati and James Pearson | SEOUL Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 6:19pm EDT

The liberal South Korean politician most likely to become the country’s next president would, if elected, review how the government would deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system and would consult China, two of his top advisers said on Friday.

If Moon Jae-in, front-runner for the May 9 presidential election, reverses policy on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, it will place him at odds with the United States, South Korea’s biggest ally.

The conservative government of impeached president Park Geun-hye agreed to deploy the THAAD to guard against attack by North Korea, but the decision sparked outrage in China, which responded with restrictions on some companies doing business with and in South Korea.

China says the system’s radar can be used to spy into its territory.

Moon would likely “do a review of the validity of the decision”, Choi Jong Kun, an adviser to Moon on foreign policy told Reuters. “While doing it, he will consult with the United States, as well as China.”

“At the end of the day, if the reality unfolds in a way that South Korea’s national security and the economy were damaged because of the THAAD, not because of the North Korea issue, then it’s not really a rational situation, is it?”

The comments are at variance with a tough stand taken by the new U.S. administration on North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting Seoul for the first time since taking office, said on Friday a U.S. policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended and military action would be “on the table” if North Korea if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Tillerson also said he expected the next South Korean government would “continue to be supportive” of THAAD.

A Pentagon spokesman said THAAD deployment was “a critical measure” to defend South Koreans and U.S. forces against North Korean missiles.

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner and the dispute over THAAD has left shopping districts in Seoul devoid of their usual crowds of Chinese tourists.

In China, the row has led to a freeze of South Korean television dramas and music, and product boycotts.

Moon, a liberal facing little in the way of a significant conservative challenger, said in a debate this week China should stop the economic retaliation and South Korea had to make diplomatic efforts to assuage Chinese anger.

“It’s only right for the THAAD deployment issue to be decided by the next administration,” Moon told foreign media recently.


A 63-year-old human rights lawyer, Moon has said he will extend an olive branch to North Korea if elected and visit Pyongyang before making a trip to the United States.

Just two North-South summits have been held since the 1950-53 Korean war.

Choi said the decision to deploy the THAAD battery had been made hastily. China’s reaction was foreseeable and yet was largely ignored by Park’s government, he said.

“We had a strategic partnership with Beijing, until this THAAD issue,” Choi said. “Our relationship had been pretty OK and pretty good.”

Kim Ki-Jung, another foreign policy adviser to Moon, said he had tried to convince U.S. military officials and diplomats in Washington last month that the deployment of the THAAD should be left to the leader who succeeds Park.

“We are going to acknowledge that two governments made an agreement … but the actual process of deployment, that should be given to the next government,” he said.

Instead, the United States started to deploy the first elements of the system this month, after North Korea fired off four ballistic missiles into the sea off northwest Japan.

Moon has criticized the two former conservative presidents – Park and her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak – for derailing progress made in inter-Korean relations under previous liberal administrations.

He calls for a “two-step” approach on North Korea, with talks leading to “economic unification” and ultimately “political and military unification.”

His viewpoints could spark friction with Washington, but Moon would have no problem distancing South Korea’s interests from those of the United States, Kim said.

“The basic assumption is that we are going to maintain the success of our bilateral alliance,” Kim said.

“We are going to keep it … as long as we admit that South Korea is not the 51st state of the United States. We are an independent country, we have our own national interest, and we should have our own foreign policy strategy.”

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and Raju Gopalkrishnan)

Source: Reuters “Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


6 Comments on “Top South Korean presidential candidate would review THAAD process: advisers”



    “Tillerson also said he expected the next South Korean government would “continue to be supportive” of THAAD.

    A Pentagon spokesman said THAAD deployment was “a critical measure” to defend South Koreans and U.S. forces against North Korean missiles.”

    Come, come. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

    If South Korea is to pay and manage its own defences – which they are very capable of – they do no need Amerikan meddling in their decision making.

    South Korea with its population double that of North Korea’s 24 million, is also richer and more knowledgeable. They can jolly well take care of the North Koreans without the Amerikans. The 28,000 Amerikan soldier in South Korea should pack up and go home. The same with their air force and navy based there.

    Seoul and Pyongyang fought fiercely for their independence and liberation from the “butcher” Imperial Japan and therefore deserve their freedom. They DON’T need a replacement colonial master in Washington. Pyongyang is the vanguard continuing he fight for Korean independence and sovereignty, unles Seoul wakes up to it also.

    You get that, Tillerson and Pentagon? Go home and save your country unnecessary expenses. Like your master said, America is NOT the world’s policeman.


  2. Steve says:

    Irrespective, whether it’s Moon, Sun, Stars, Sky, Park, Lee, Choi or whoever – the Candidate(s) who has the guts to condemn THAAD and US interference into Sth Korean culture will win the next Presidency. Just like Duterte ‘separate’ from the US, condemning US interference into PH mainstream politics and pivoting to China, likewise the next Sth Korean President shall pivot to China, establish economical. political and even military ties with their Northern brothers and ‘kill’ the alliance of the US hegemonic scoundrels – shall there be peace in the Korean peninsula.

    Sth Korea and their Northern brothers shall then apply separately for membership into SCO.


  3. johnleecan says:

    Wow! The Moon and the South Koreans are really feeling the pressure from ordinary Chinese citizens. This is just a preview. We have also stopped ordering South Korean brands and labels that are made in China even if our country is not affected by THAAD. Seems like many of our China suppliers have taken everything related to South Korea off their product list as we have relate to them that we as overseas Chinese support China all the way and that they should too.


  4. Simon says:

    The deployment of THAAD was a decision taken by America who arm twisted S Korea with the sole aim to monitor China. N Korea has been testing nuclear bombs for the last 10 years so what is new? The decision for THAAD is because America want to both see what Chinese military activities are upto and sour relations between China and S Korea which grew closer in recent years. If the new government in S Korea want Chinese involvement in some kind of missile shields there are a few things it must do.

    1, Divulge THAAD radar frequencies information to China so it can provide means to block THAAD from interfering in Chinese territories. This will hold America to account who claim it is not targeting at China. However it is unlikely to happen because it will foil America’s plan to spy on China and compromise American classified information.

    2. Stop THAAD altogether and replace it with alternative that does not interfere with other countries security.

    3. Let China install a missile shield in S Korea. This will not only antagonise N Korea but may commit China to security in NE Asia and at the same time deter N Korea from firing missiles at S Korea being shot down by Chinese missile defence. This would represent a fundamental shift and may start a phase of replacing American military in S Korea and kick start a process which eventually lead to Korean unification.

    Despite the rhetoric from Washington I think America is happy with the status quo of a hostile N Korea and are not interested in Korean unification. This allows American troops to stay in S Korea and Washington access to miltary bases to monitor China.


    • Mad Max says:

      It is obvious Ms Park Guen-Hye was blackmailed by American administration into agreeing to the THAAD system if she wants to survive politically. But like the dogs they are, the Washington and the CIA threw her to the protestors once she agreed, which was when she was no longer of any value to her. Typical double crossing Amerikans and CIA.

      Watch out for the Trump administration. Like the “great hypocrite” Obama, he too is every inch, capable of double crossing. Be aware of your deals with this man.