Internal discord deepens over GSOMIA nullification
Internal discord among government authorities is deepening over Cheong Wa Dae’s decision to scrap a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
The presidential office’s widely unexpected decision on Aug. 22 put pressure on relevant government authorities to abruptly change their policy surrounding the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
Only a day before the announcement, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo spoke highly of the “strategic value” of GSOMIA to keep track of any potential nuclear threats from North Korea.
But a few days later, Jeong changed the ministry’s stance by saying “GSOMIA is not of great value in terms of exchanging military information between South Korea and Japan.”
The shift was predictable considering political pressure from Cheong Wa Dae. But on Thursday, the defense authority drew controversy after Jeong made public remarks opposing the government’s decision to scrap GSOMIA.
While attending a National Assembly meeting, the defense chief said the quasi-military alliance among China, Russia and North Korea will welcome the GSOMIA nullification.
Regarding which countries would welcome the decision, Jeong said: “I think North Korea, China or Russia would.”
The remark comes with the assumption that South Korea’s withdrawal from the pact will not enhance the trilateral security alliance among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.
This is in contrast to Cheong Wa Dae’s stance that a possible extension of GSOMIA does not serve the South’s national interest amid the intensifying political feud with Japan.
Since July, Tokyo has taken a series of retaliatory actions against Seoul over their failure to settle historic disputes involving issues on compensation for surviving South Koreans mobilized for forced labor during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial era.
Jeong’s latest remark also raises concerns that Cheong Wa Dae has failed to keep in close communication with the defense ministry.