“For South Korea, living with a nuclear-armed North Korea is much better than living without American troops,” said Shin Won-sik, a retired three-star South Korean general. “If they are gone, we will lose proof that the Americans will defend us. We will lose confidence that if war breaks out, we can win.”…

“The Moon government doesn’t want the focus of public attention to move from the denuclearization of North Korea to the withdrawal of U.S. troops yet, which is such a political hot potato,” said Lee Byong-chul, senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul. “But if a peace treaty is signed, the U.S. troops are bound to peter out. Much of the reason they are staying here will be gone.”

Conservatives in South Korea bristle at such a possibility, arguing that a withdrawal would expose their country to potential foes far stronger than North Korea, like China and Japan, which have invaded numerous times over the centuries. South Koreans reacted to Washington’s past attempts to pull out troops with calls for arming the country with nuclear weapons of its own.