Earlier this week, officials from the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) conceded that the latter could “easily be dragged” into the Taiwan crisis if tensions escalate with or without the over 28,500 US troops based in the peninsula.

The fact alone that Seoul is located near the disputing China and Taiwan, not to mention its archnemesis North Korea’s close ties with Beijing, already places ROK in an unfavorable situation.

In an interview with CNN, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol proclaimed to strengthen closer ties with the US in expanding “freedom” and sovereignty. However, it wasn’t clear whether it would send its armed forces should China attack Taiwan, as this could also trigger “provocation” with Pyongyang—thus urging to deal with the latter first.

“In the case of military conflict around Taiwan, there would be increased possibility of North Korean provocation,” Yoon said on Sunday. “Therefore, in that case, the top priority for Korea and the US-Korea alliance on the Korean Peninsula would be based on our robust defense posture. We must deal with the North Korean threat first.”