The South Korea Imperatives

Eliminating cybercrime and developing an effective missile defense system will go a long way toward ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and containing the North Korean threat.

by Newt Gingrich

Callista and I recently visited South Korea to participate in Peace Summit 2023, an event hosted by the Universal Peace Federation. The federation is a remarkable organization with activities in nearly 140 countries, and the summit was an amazing experience.

Visiting Seoul is always fascinating, and this year it was especially educational.

We joined a Washington Times Foundation delegation in a special briefing by key South Korean intelligence experts. As you might expect, South Korea pays extremely careful attention to Kim Jong Un and the North Korean dictatorship. Their common understanding of Korean language and culture makes them the preeminent analysts of Pyongyang.

Based on their briefings, two large but vital projects became obvious.

First, there is an enormous cyber theft hole in the sanctions regime levied against North Korea. This is providing an astonishing amount of money to the Kim dictatorship to finance its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Second, the recent North Korean missile firings have put renewed emphasis on analyzing the country’s non-nuclear ballistic threat to the Republic of Korea.

Let’s consider each challenge.

We were told North Korea is earning an estimated $1.2 billion a year through cybercrime. This is an enormous funding source for Kim Jong Un’s military research and development program.

There should be an all-out effort by the combined U.S., Korean, and Japanese intelligence services to lock down North Korea’s ability to steal on the internet. If Kim Jong Un can count on more than $1 billion a year in theft, the effect of other sanctions is dramatically weakened. Closing this loophole is vital to slowing down the North Korean military program.

Second, the scale of the North Korean missile program is growing and involves conventional as well as nuclear weapons.

As Time Magazine reported on April 12, North Korea completed a record 68 missile tests in 2022, “and there are no signs that the country plans to let up.”

The magazine reported that in early April, North Korea shot an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) toward the East Sea, which separates the Korean Peninsula from Japan. It was the 12th missile test this year.

“North Korea has reportedly fired 26 projectiles, including short-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles, over 11 test launches in just the first three months of this year,” Time Magazine reported.

North Korea could do enormous damage to Seoul with conventional missiles. Seoul is an extraordinarily modern city of nearly 10 million people and is only 31 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. The human casualties would be devastating.

The North Korean missile build up requires an extraordinary program of developing missile defenses.

The country which has the best record of defeating missile attacks is Israel. According to Claire Berlinski at the Cosmopolitan Globalist, 469 missiles were recently fired from Gaza targeting Israeli towns and cities. The combination of the Arrow short range defense system, the new David’s Sling medium range defensive system (codeveloped by Rafael Defense Systems and Raytheon), and the Iron Dome computerized control system – which sorts incoming missiles based on the danger they represent – has enabled Israel to defeat an amazing number of missile attacks and saved an enormous number of lives.

North Korea’s missile systems are faster, bigger, and more dangerous than the missiles being fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It will require a joint American-South Korean-Japanese development program to create an anti-missile umbrella over South Korea and Japan (North Korea threatens both). This should be a high priority for the Pentagon. The joint system’s development will yield defensive dividends all around the world as countries such as Iran and others also develop missile capabilities.

Eliminating cybercrime and developing an effective missile defense system will go a long way toward ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and containing the North Korean threat.

A city as beautiful as Seoul – and an ally as steadfast as South Korea (with whom we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of our alliance this year) – deserve the best possible defense.

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