For John, BLUF: We should encourage South Korea to obtain a Missile Defense. Nothing to see here; just move along.
As we know, North Korea conducted some sort of a nuclear test. They claimed it was a thermonuclear weapon, a hydrogen bomb. The US Government says it wasn't.
But, either way, life goes on. And people hedge their bets. Here is an article by Reporter Chung Ah-young of the Korea Times, in which is discussed the state of play between the US and Korea.
The lede plus three:
Washington may increase the pressure on South Korea for the stationing of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit on South Korean soil following the North's claimed test of a hydrogen bomb, experts said Thursday.The mention of THAAD drags in China, which is against the Republic of Korea (South Korea) getting this advanced weaponry. And, frankly, weaponry that diminishes the Chinese nuclear threat to Korea and Japan.
The United States discussed its measures with South Korea to deploy U.S. strategic assets on the Korean peninsula to deter the North's growing threats.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter discussed ways they could tighten their security collaboration after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test on Wednesday.
"Secretary Carter reaffirmed the U.S.' ironclad defense commitment to South Korea, and this includes all kinds of extended deterrence assets," Han said in a joint press release with Carter.
Thus, if the NK test does, in fact, cause South Korea to accept THAAD, then this may cause the Chinese to reconsider their approach to North Korea, which seems to be fairly hands off.
So, if Korea moves to accept THAAD, acting in its own national security interests vis-a-via North Korea, which China would prefer it not do, then China may decide it is time to have a serious talk with North Korea. This is not necessarily something that would have immediate public results, but it could have long term results we do see. Signally will be involved.
North Korea may have gone a step too far this time. Or not.
Regards — Cliff