“If China attacks Taiwan, it is also very likely that North Korea will make a provocation,” said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday (local time). “South Korea’s priority is to address North Korea’s provocations based on a strong alliance between South Korea and the U.S.” It is believed as the president drew a line regarding the U.S.’ request for South Korea to support the defense of Taiwan by mentioning concerns about North Korean provocations.
“My answers do not change when it comes to questions about Taiwanese issues and policies regarding China regardless of when or who asks the questions under whatever circumstances,” said President Yoon in an interview with CNN. “It may be difficult for the U.S. to prioritize between peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and free navigations guaranteed in the Taiwan Strait. I believe that both are the values that the U.S. should protect.” He also added that North Korea’s nuclear threats are the most serious from the perspective of South Korea. His comments are interpreted as indirectly emphasizing that South Korean cannot directly support Taiwan in addressing North Korean issues.
However, the Joe Biden administration forecasted that Vice President Kamala Harris would discuss Taiwanese issues with Japan and South Korea during her Asian tour from Monday through Thursday. A senior member of the Biden administration said on Saturday that Vice President Harris would discuss North Korea’s threats and the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait with President Yoon during their meeting scheduled on Thursday. “The U.S.’ approach to Taiwan is cooperation with its allies,” the official added.
As President Biden announced that the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China invades the country, there are voices in the U.S. that South Korea should contribute to the defense of Taiwan. “I do not disagree, but it’s a matter that South Korea should decide on its own,” Paul LaCamera, the United Nations Command and the United States Forces Korea Command, said last week regarding the need for South Korea’s military support in case China invades Taiwan.