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GSOMIA decision: Moon Jae-in's nuclear option

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President Moon Jae-in receives a briefing on the National Security Office's recommendation to scrap the Korea-Japan military intelligence-sharing agreement, Thursday. Yonhap
By Oh Young-jin

Not long after President Roh Moo-hyun took office in 2003, he gathered presidential aides and discussed how to lead and govern the nation.

There was near-consensus against Roh's visit to the United States, espoused by former activists among the Roh aides who saw the U.S. as a supporter of the previous dictatorships they fought against. They were the so-called "386 generation" ― born in the 1960s, attending college in the 1980s and aged in their 30s. They belonged to the age when Korea was getting wealthy and starting to assert its national identity.

Their objection to Roh's U.S. visit was based on their wish to break the tradition of a newly elected president visiting Washington as his first overseas destination to gain America's recognition. But a few experienced hands who insisted on the importance of the ROK-U.S. alliance torpedoed their effort.

Ironically, those young cadres of Roh and the president himself were still cautious about going into the uncharted realm beyond the alliance's boundaries. In May, Roh made his first visit to the U.S. and met President George W. Bush. It set a pattern for Roh to protect the alliance by even alienating his support base in pushing for a free trade agreement with the U.S. and sending troops to the Middle East, as requested.

Fast-track to the incumbent President Moon Jae-in. Roh was his mentor and he served him in the presidential office. Now Moon is in the spotlight for his unexpected decision Thursday to scrap the country's three-year-old pact with Japan ― the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).........

© The Korea Times