Nothing new here with North Korea demanding that the US pull its troops out of South Korea:
The United States made clear Friday that North Korea’s demand for the pullout of American troops on the Korean Peninsula is not negotiable.
“I think you know that we have said, for quite some time, that we are not prepared to accept preconditions for the
resumption of talks,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. “And that precondition in particular would be unacceptable.”
Her comments came as the U.S. and North Korea are scheduled to hold high-level talks in Beijing next week to see if they can resume the six-party talks on the communist nation’s nuclear program. The other participants are South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. [Korea Times]
Some argue pulling US troops out of South Korea may actually be the last thing the North Koreans want since the presence of USFK helps to justify the amount of money they put into their military, missile development, and nuclear programs. The regime propaganda apparatus would have a harder time justifying everything the Kim regime does by motivating its population to free the South from the evil imperialist Yankees. But then again even without the evil imperialist Yankees in South Korea the regime could just move on and focus their propaganda against the threat of invasion by the US and Japan.
Also without USFK, the balance of power on the peninsula would change. The South Koreans would still have the military advantage, but depending on the defense agreement after a US withdrawal, there is no guarantees of instant US military involvement if hostilities did break out like there is now. Without everything that USFK brings to the defense of the ROK most notably air power, communications, and intelligence; any war on the peninsula would be pro-longed and thus be more devastating. Because of this I think the ROK would be more hesitant to respond to North Korean provocations and depending on who the ROK President is at the time they may just decide to pay off the North Koreans like the Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung governments did to behave. However, without the backing of the US military the extortion price would be much higher than what these prior governments paid. Additional expenses to the ROK would be the amount of money they would have to invest to replace the capabilities that USFK is currently providing. Possibly the largest cost of all would be the drop in foreign investment into the South Korean economy after the withdrawal of the US military from South Korea. I would think that international investors would have a whole lot more confidence in their investments in South Korea knowing that the US military is there to back it up.
With all these considerations I think the North Koreans are actually serious about wanting USFK to withdraw, but are pragmatic enough to know it is not going to happen by anything they say or do in North Korea. That is why they have their Chinboista allies in South Korea continue with their activities in the hope of causing a slow motion decay of the US-ROK alliance to where one day the US military does pull out of Korea.
So what does everyone else think, are the North Koreans serious about wanting USFK out of South Korea?