April 25, 2017 6:00 am JST

Risk of casualties seen staying US' hand in North Korea

South Korean experts see all-out assault exacting heavy civilian toll

HIROSHI MINEGISHI, Nikkei staff writer

SEOUL -- Even as tensions mount over North Korea, some South Korean media and analysts contend that the U.S. would find it difficult to launch a full-fledged attack on the North, given American estimates indicating that massive civilian casualties would ensue.

"For the U.S. to attack, it would need South Korea's consent and preparation," said former South Korean Unification Minister Kang In-duk, echoing the views of many North Korea experts in the country. "It'd be hard to make the decision."

During the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, the administration of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton secretly drew up plans for an airstrike against a North Korean nuclear facility at Yongbyon. It estimated at least 1 million casualties on the Korean Peninsula within the first three months of hostilities.

South Korea news channel YTN reported a similar estimate April 10, putting deaths within the first week in the hundreds of thousands.

South Korean media have cited research by a U.S. foundation in 2013 suggesting that a war on the Korean Peninsula could cause combined military and civilian casualties on a par with World War I. And an American research firm estimated in 2004 that a nuclear strike on Seoul could kill over a million people, a South Korean newspaper said.

Get Insights on Asia In Your Inbox

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Get your first month for $0.99

Redeemable only through the Subscribe button below

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

Resubscribe now to continue reading.
BEST OFFER:
Only US$ 9.99 per month for a full-year subscription

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.