In­ter­nal dis­cord deep­ens over GSOMIA nul­li­fi­ca­tion

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Lee Min-hyung mh­[email protected]­re­

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.

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