South Korea 'has very strong concerns' the US might strike North Korea, ex-CIA Korea expert says

  • The former director of the CIA's Korea division just returned from Seoul and said that officials there have "very strong concerns" about the US attacking North Korea.
  • President Donald Trump's administration is reportedly considering a strike.
  • The former CIA agent said some people think the US could hit two or three targets that North Korea wouldn't launch a full war over.


An ex-CIA agent from the agency's Korea division recently returned from South Korea and found widespread worry that the US is gearing up for a military strike against North Korea.

"Seoul has very strong concerns about the potential for a US 'preventive attack' on North Korea," Bruce Klingner, the former chief of the CIA Korea division, told NBC.

Klingner's comments follow persistent reports out of the White House that the US is considering a "bloody nose" strike on North Korea to make a statement, and that President Donald Trump's secretary of state and secretary of defense are the key figures holding him back.

Klingner seemed to pick up on a fear in Seoul of an attack even greater than a "bloody nose," which would be a highly visible yet materially limited strike.

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"Some are suggesting that the US is thinking of hitting two or three targets, and that North Korea would likely respond proportionately," Klingner said. "Not the all-out artillery barrage on Seoul."

To attack North Korea in such a way that they would notice, yet restrain their response to something short of all out war, would require meticulous planning, flawless execution, and a healthy dose of luck, as no one can surely say exactly how Kim Jong Un would react.

Experts have panned the idea of a strike on North Korea with near unanimity, but Trump's administration has constantly touted the use of force as a potential tool.

Trump's National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, the hawkish voice on North Korea within his inner circle, reportedly said at Davos that "the danger is growing" from North Korea and has become a "grave threat" to the US.

McMaster, according to a personal doctrine he expresses in talks and writing, believes using military force against the US's weaker enemies could cow them and show them who is in charge.

But with the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics going on until mid-March, it seems unlikely the US would decide to strike now.

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RELATED: How to survive a nuclear attack

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What should you do in the event of a nearby nuclear attack? Click through to learn more. 

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Seek shelter immediately, towards the center of a building or -- preferably -- a basement. Aim for the same type of shelter you would utilize in the event of a tornado. 

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The next three slides are examples of nuclear shelters that exist around the world. 

(Image via Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

The entrance of Shelter Co.'s nuclear shelter model room, which is placed in the basement of the company's CEO Seiichiro Nishimoto's house, is pictured in Osaka, Japan April 26, 2017. (Photo via REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
A fallout shelter sign hangs on the Mount Rona Baptist Church, on August 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. In the early 60's Washington was at the center of civil defense preparations in case of a nuclear blast, with over one thousand dedicated public fallout shelters in schools, churches and government buildings. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A 'shelter' sign is displayed at the entrance to a subway station in Seoul on July 6, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. According to the metropolitan government, South Korea's city subway stations serve a dual purpose with over 3,300 designated as shelters in case of aerial bombardment including any threat from North Korea. The U.S. said that it will use military force if needed to stop North Korea's nuclear missile program after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday into Japanese waters. The latest launch have drawn strong criticism from the U.S. as experts believe the ICBM has the range to reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the U.S. Pacific Northwest. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Dense materials, including dirt or thick walls, provide the best defense to fallout radiation.

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If possible, take a warm shower -- but do not use conditioner, as it can bond to nuclear particles. 

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Do not seek shelter in a car, as they won't provide adequate protection, and you should not attempt to outrun nuclear fallout. 

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The nuclear fallout zone shrinks quickly after an attack, but the less dangerous "hot zone" still grows. 

(Image via Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Once you are sheltered, do not leave. Listen to a radio or other announcements. 

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