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Seoul Chooses to Avoid Confrontation Over GSOMIA

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On 23 November 2019, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between Japan and South Korea was due to expire, and right up until the last moment it was not clear whether Seoul would succumb to U.S. pressure. The United States views the GSOMIA as part of its strategy aimed at consolidating the trilateral security alliance.

On 8 November, ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said that the South Korean government was not planning on changing its decision on the future of the agreement, during her speech at the National Assembly Special Committee on Budget and Accounts. It would be reviewed only if Tokyo stopped applying economic pressure on Seoul by various means, including limiting deliveries of strategic raw materials to the ROK. The spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense and director of the Blue House National Security Office Chung Eui-yong made similar statements. And during a dinner meeting with five leaders of South Korea’s main political parties, President Moon Jae-in said that Seoul’s decision not to renew the GSOMIA had been a matter of principle.

According to a survey conducted by the national television network MBC, the people of the Republic of Korea also agreed with their leadership, i.e. 52.1% of the respondents stated that the government needed to terminate the bilateral security agreement as planned.

In the meantime, during his visit to the ROK, Robert B. Abrams, the commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), noted that not renewing the GSOMIA may send the wrong signal, i.e. “that the trilateral alliance among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington” was not strong enough to maintain regional security order. The key purpose of the GSOMIA is that it serves as a clear message to nations in the region that the ROK and Japan can put aside their historical differences to make stability and security in this area a matter of priority. A similar viewpoint had been........

© New Eastern Outlook