One of South Korea’s most distinguished former generals has warned the US there could be no quick military victory against North Korea, casting doubt on Washington’s plans to deliver a “bloody nose” attack to force Kim Jong Un to scale back his nuclear ambitions.
韩国最知名的退役将军之一警告美国，对朝鲜不可能取得快速军事胜利，他质疑华盛顿发起猛烈军事打击以迫使金正恩(Kim Jong Un)放弃核武野心的计划。
Chun In-bum, who served for almost 40 years in the South Korean army and commanded the special forces, said the US would need to be prepared for a long, attritional war against a heavily militarised opponent.
“If we have to go into North Korea, it is not going to be like going into Iraq or Afghanistan,” Mr Chun told an audience at the Policy Exchange, a London think-tank. “It’s not going to be like toppling [Saddam] Hussein.
“This would be more like trying to get rid of Allah. King Jong Un and his family are a cult . . . It will be a toothache like pulling out all of your teeth”.
Mr Chun’s comments come as relations between North and South Korea are starting to thaw following a year of missile tests by Pyongyang and rising tensions between Mr Kim, the North’s supreme leader, and Donald Trump, US president.
This week delegates from the north and the south met for the first time in two years, with Mr Kim agreeing to send a team of athletes to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.
However, while Mr Trump has not ruled out future peace talks, the fresh discussions between the two Koreas risk undermining the “maximum pressure” approach of the US.
In recent months US military chiefs have raised the possibility of a pre-emptive attack to signal Washington’s determination to resolve the crisis, including a strike on an air base or naval facility or bombing one of Mr Kim’s homes.
Mr Chun warned against any sudden moves. “No one likes surprises,” he said, adding that North Korea had not yet acquired the capability to hit Washington with a nuclear warhead despite testing three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducting its sixth nuclear test in the past year.
“This is where the window still exists for them to cease. If they want to broker a deal with the Americans, they need to do it now,” said Mr Chun.