South Korea and U.S. to Finalize Strengthened Deterrence Against North Korea by Mid-2024, Says President Yoon

Seoul, South Korea - In a New Year's Day address, President Yoon Suk Yeol announced on Monday that South Korea and the United States are set to complete an enhanced "extended deterrence" regime within the first half of 2024. This initiative aims to fundamentally counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this strengthened deterrence system, a joint effort with the U.S., is a part of South Korea's strategy to establish "genuine and lasting peace" through military strength. He stated from the presidential office that this system will provide robust security to support free economic activities and ensure that citizens can go about their daily lives without fear. Extended deterrence is understood as the U.S. commitment to defend its allies using all military capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

Under Yoon's administration, Seoul and Washington have intensified their cooperation in nuclear planning and operations to address the growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. During the December meeting of the allies' Nuclear Consultative Group, both parties agreed to finalize a shared nuclear strategy guideline by mid-2024. This announcement came shortly after North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indicating the action as a response to potential wrong decisions by Washington.

President Yoon also dedicated a significant portion of his address to economic issues. He acknowledged the challenges faced in the past year, including high interest rates, inflation, and oil prices, which have impeded the nation's economic recovery. Yoon assured that the upcoming year would bring revitalization to daily life and economic growth that would be felt across society.

Specifically, Yoon committed to increasing urban housing supply to prevent people from relocating to city outskirts for new homes. He promised to review redevelopment and reconstruction projects and to expand the availability of smaller housing units for one or two-person households. Additionally, Yoon pledged to continue deregulation efforts to boost business investment and support advanced industries, thereby fostering business creativity and innovation.

In his address, Yoon reiterated his determination to combat corruption among public officials and interest groups, referring to them as "cartels with vested interests." He emphasized reforms in labor, education, and pensions, underscoring the importance of legal compliance in labor-management relations and the strict handling of illegal activities, whether by labor unions or management.

Lastly, Yoon expressed the urgency of addressing South Korea's low birth rate, emphasizing the need for a novel approach to understanding and solving this issue.

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