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PostSouth Korea's Possible Response to a Northern Strike (Brian Blodgett, USA, 09/05/17 6:22 am)
While most eyes are focused on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the threat of a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile able to target the United States, it is important to remember that the two Koreas may still be in a state of suspended war, since only an armistice was signed in 1953. I carefully used "may," since on March 9th, 2013, North Korea declared the armistice nullified, which many across the world may have forgotten.
However, it is unlikely that the Republic of Korea forgot about it and its government has actually been pursuing a Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan for some time. The KMPR plan is for the RoK to retaliate and punish North Korea if it strikes the RoK. In support of this plan, in 2012 the South Korean government revised their missile guidelines that it had agreed upon with the United States. The new guideline allows ballistic missile ranges to increase from 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers but maintained the maximum payload at 500 kilograms for ballistic missiles. Shorter-range ballistic missiles can carry up to 2 tons. With a range of 800 kilometers, a South Korean ballistic missile could strike anywhere in North Korea. Their goal was to deploy the missile by 2013 but actual launching of a Hyunmoo 2C (the likely designation) ballistic missile with its 800-kilometer range only occurred within the last few months on June 23rd. Sources indicate that the missile may go into operational status after two more successful tests. The addition of the Hyunmoo 2C to its arsenal of cruise missiles that can already reach 1,000 to 1,500 kilometers (they are not subject to the US / RoK guidelines due to their lower trajectories) and naval / air-launched missiles and bombs helps fulfill the intention of the KMPR plan.
Also in June, President Moon Jae-in discussed with President Trump another revising of the missile guidelines, allowing them an increased payload of up to 1,000 kilograms (1 ton). According to reports, Trump gave a positive response. During a phone call between the two leaders on September 2nd, the two presidents supposedly reaffirmed the need to apply maximum sanctions and pressure on North Korea and the two also agreed in principle on revising the missile guidelines. The increase to payload would allow the South Korean military to likely destroy many of North Korea's bunkers that are less than 10 meters underground--the estimate is that there are over 7,000 bunkers in the north.
While the US and many other countries are watching North Korea, Kim is likely also paying close attention to South Korea and its increased independent deterrent capability.
JE comments: How do you take out 7000 bunkers? It's a mind-boggling number. Imagine the resources required for such an infrastructure project. With the same amount of concrete, labor, and money, North Korea could have built world-class superhighways all around the country. Oh, and fed its people better.
Brian Blodgett gives an excellent summary of an oft-overlooked part of the Koreas equation: what is the South prepared to do to defend itself--or retaliate?