I believe this when I see it happen since the ROK has literally vowed to take over operational control from the US military for decades to only keep putting it off:
He vowed to strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance while beefing up domestic military capabilities in order for the country to command its own troops in the event of a conflict.
“My administration is pursuing the early takeover of wartime operational control,” he said. “The handover on the basis of our independent defense capabilities will ultimately lead to a remarkable advancement in the fundamentals and abilities of our military. When the South has wartime operation control, the North will fear us more, and the people will trust our armed forces more. With elevated self-esteem, our military will become stronger, and the Republic of Korea will emerge as a security hub in Northeast Asia. I am convinced that our military is equipped with such capabilities. The people and I have confidence in our armed forces.”
Recovery of wartime operational control of the Korean forces from the United States was a presidential pledge of Moon. During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, Seoul and Washington agreed that the transfer would take place in 2012, but the plan was delayed by the succeeding conservative presidents. Moon said he will complete it during his presidency, which ends in May 2022. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link, but I think this may have a real chance of happening this time since President Trump reportedly wants the same thing. Anyway this whole OPCON issue has historically had little to do with military strategy and more to do with being a reactionary response to Korean nationalism. I had reach way back in the archives, but ROK Heads can read how President Moon’s mentor former President Roh pushed this same issue from this 2005 posting.
Be thankful you don’t have to shop in a ROK military commissary because according to the below article Korean food manufacturers are known for selling tainted food products to ROK military servicemembers:
A dead lizard was found in a can of candy sold at a commissary on a military base, prompting public outrage against lax food safety regulations.
This latest incident comes amid a growing number of complaints filed over the safety of food sold at military camps, according to data made public by a lawmaker.
In a report filed with Rep. Kim Hack-yong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party by the Ministry of National Defense Welfare Agency, 89 cases of tainted food were reported from January 2013 to early this month. Kim sits on the National Assembly Defense Committee.
The number of reports has increased over the years with 16 cases reported in 2013, 17 in 2014, 21 in 2015 and 22 in 2016.
Besides the dead lizard, hair, chicken feathers, maggots, ticks, pieces of plastic bags, and nuts and bolts were also found in various packaged food products, the report said. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but authorities will not even publish the names of the companies that sold the tainted products. It seems that naming these companies would be enough of a threat to their business to ensure that they increase food safety procedures for products going to ROK military commissaries.
Some how I doubt Kim Jong-un was impressed by this South Korean response to his recent missile test over Japan considering one missile did not even work:
South Korea’s military said Friday it has fired two ballistic missiles in a swift response to North Korea’s latest provocation.
The Army shot the Hyunmoo-2 missiles from an eastern site near the inter-Korean border just six minutes after the North’s missile firing from Pyongyang.
One “accurately hit” a simulated target in the East Sea about 250 kilometers away, a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) official told reporters in a background briefing.
It’s the same distance between the training area and the Sunan airfield in Pyongyang, where the missile was fired.
The other, however, fell into water “in the initial stage,” he added. Related authorities are analyzing the reason.
A defense ministry official pointed out the South’s response came while the North’s missile was still flying.
He stressed that the military was able to take such a quick measure as it detected signs of the secretive North preparing to fire the missile in advance. Related information was immediately reported to President Moon Jae-in who ordered the missile training. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link.
I doubt Kim Jong-un is very concerned about this when he knows there is almost zero chance the ROK President is willing to execute such a preemptive strike. This report seems more for domestic consumption to show the ROK public the government is “doing something”:
South Korea’s defense minister is publicly boasting that it will create a new “decapitation unit” called the Spartan 3000 with the express intent of taking out North Korean leadership, The New York Times reports.
The brigade-sized unit of between 2,000 and 4,000 soldiers will be established by year’s end, The Times reported the defense minister, Song Young-moo, as saying, adding that the military was already “retooling” helicopters and transporting planes to be able to penetrate North Korean airspace at night.
It’s out of the ordinary for a senior government leader to publicly say they are working on a plan to assassinate a foreign head of state. But there’s an interesting reason behind it: The South is trying to freak out its northern neighbor and get it to the negotiating table instead of further developing nuclear weapons.
“The best deterrence we can have, next to having our own nukes, is to make Kim Jong Un fear for his life,” retired South Korean Lt. Gen. Shin Won-sik told The Times. [Business Insider]
You can read more at the link.
The ROK military likely has personnel planning for all kinds of contingencies, but people are living in a fantasy land if they think President Moon is any where near authorizing a preemptive strike on North Korea:
According to a report in South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo newspaper, which cites an unidentified government official, South Korea’s military is preparing a “surgical strike” scenario that could wipe out North Korean command and missile and nuclear facilities following an order by S.Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. Munhwa adds that the military is to report the scenario to presidential office after completing it as early as August 1.
As the report details, South Korea’s Special Forces are preparing a special strike op which would be launched in response to President Moon Jae-In’s order to remove the North Korean leadership in case of emergency. This operation is taking place in addition to separate preparations currently conducted by the country’s military forces.
Targeted by the surgical strike would be North Korea’s core facilities. As part of the operation, South Korea’s forces would launch Taurus cruise missiles from F-15 fighters, which would be able to strike all key facilities in Pyongyang and can also strike the office of the Chairman of the Labor Party, Kim Jong Eun, at the Pyongyang Labor Party headquarters. [Zero Hedge]
You can read more at the link.