PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — In saying the United States will pursue diplomacy and not military action after North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile, U.S. officials are taking a prudent course, analysts in South Korea said Wednesday.
The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session and Japan introduced a resolution calling for sanctions against North Korea.
The White House issued a statement condemning the action, but officials said the United States’ response would not include military action.
“Even some of the conservatives in South Korea are opposed to U.S. military action against North Korea,” said Hyun In-taek, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul.
“Most of the conservatives understand that North Korean missile-launching is a direct threat to South Korean security. But the U.S. military action would bring about some kind of very, very severe, critical situation on the Korean peninsula. …
“So in that sense, some of the Korean conservatives … would not support U.S. military action against the North at this moment,” Hyun said.
Yoon Dae-kyu, director of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, agreed.
“I don’t think it is possible from the Korean people’s viewpoint,” Yoon said of any military action. “We had a war before. Any possible alternative which may bring out large-scale war, it’s very difficult for us to accept this. You know, Seoul is just 25 miles from the North.”
Kum Sung-han, director general for American studies at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul, said the United States should use the option of mobilizing international support through the United Nations.
“The United States needs to show to the international community that it is doing every kind of effort to exhaust diplomatic measures,” Kum said.
In addition, Hyun said, the fact that the Taepodong-2 launch was an apparent failure suggests that there is less need for immediate military action.
“If North Korea’s Taepodong-2 missile was successful, then tension will be highly heightened,” Hyun said. “Then, probably U.S. will think about military action.
“But the fact is, we don’t have any clear evidence whether Taepodong-2 is quite successful or not at this time. That’s one factor.
“The other factor,” he said, “is the South Korean government … has not agreed on the development of military escalation on the Korean peninsula. And China also, I think, has been opposing to that kind of development on the Korean peninsula.”