How an aging population and fiscal conservatism are shaping ROK defense spending
Seoul has balanced between domestic concerns and external threats, but economic realities now threaten the equilibrium
Upon assuming the presidency, Yoon Suk-yeol set out to reorient South Korea’s defense priorities, reinstating North Korea in his first defense white paper as the nation’s “main enemy” — a designation abandoned by the previous Moon Jae-in administration.
But Yoon’s inaugural defense budget, approved in Dec. 2022, shares many similarities with Moon’s approach. Yoon’s decision to terminate Moon’s light aircraft carrier project is one notable divergence, yet South Korea’s reliance on the three-axis defense system and various missiles persist.
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