South Korea’s annual Hoguk military exercise which include elements of the South’s army, navy, air force and marine corps will conclude today.
This year’s iteration of the Hoguk drills come amid high tensions between North and South Korea because of Pyongyang’s recent flurry of missile tests. Near the end of September, North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a hypersonic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. It followed this announcement with a declaration in October that the country had fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The significant advancement in the technological sophistication of Pyongyang’s latest launches will likely increase Seoul’s anxiety moving forward.
Expect South Korea to respond to the North’s escalatory missile tests by increasing the frequency of military exercises like Hoguk, heightening coordination with the US and investing in offensive weapons and missile defense systems. South Korea is likely to focus its efforts on mastering submarine-launched ballistic missile technology—which it only recently acquired—and developing a robust multi-layered air defense network. In the medium- to long-term, the continued heightening of tensions and the escalation of missile tests on both sides could devolve into an uncontrollable arms race, which would be detrimental to regional security and global peace.
Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.