S. Korea’s Foreign Ministry asks US to refrain from public comments about GSOMIA

Posted on : 2019-08-29 16:37 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
During meeting with the American ambassador, S. Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Se-young says that such remarks “don’t help” the two countries’ relationship or alliance
US Ambassador Harry Harris (Hankyoreh archives)
US Ambassador Harry Harris (Hankyoreh archives)

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Se-young summoned US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and requested that the US government “refrain” from public remarks and expressions of displeasure in regard to Seoul’s decision to withdraw from its intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry was essentially calling for a stop to the US’ repeated expression of “deep disappointment” and “concerns” since Seoul’s decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Aug. 22. A US official has even taken issue with the South Korean military’s Dokdo defense exercise on Aug. 27.

On Aug. 28, the Foreign Ministry disclosed that it had summoned Harris to its building in the Doryeom neighborhood of Seoul’s Jongno District that morning. Sources said that Cho stressed during his meeting with Harris that the South Korean government had made its decision about GSOMIA in the context of South Korea-Japan relations and that there was no intention to negatively impact the South Korea-US relationship or alliance. But Cho added that repeated public messages of disappointment and concern by the US “don’t help strengthen our relationship or alliance.”

Cho explained that the US’ disappointment and concerns had been communicated to South Korea and asked the US to refrain from publicly conveying that message any more. “Restraint [on those remarks] helps strengthen the South Korean government’s resolve, and I’m concerned that the failure to do so could have the opposite effect,” Cho said.

The apparent reason that Cho summoned Harris to express this position is because the South Korean government concluded that the US doesn’t adequately understand its true intentions. The meeting was also designed to put a halt to the US government’s repeated expression of criticism about Seoul’s decision to terminate GSOMIA.

The US has continued to voice its irritation since the GSOMIA decision was made on Aug. 22. The US State Department said in a statement on Aug. 22 that the US was “deeply concerned and disappointed” about the Moon administration’s decision not to extend GSOMIA. Those sentiments were reiterated on Aug. 25 in a tweet by the department’s spokesperson, who said, “We are deeply disappointed and concerned that the ROK’s government terminated the General Security of Military Information Agreement.” The spokesperson’s comments were translated into Korean by the US Embassy in Seoul and retweeted on its official Twitter account.

While speaking to Harris, Cho also brought up remarks made on Aug. 27 by a US State Department spokesperson about the South Korean military’s Dokdo defense exercise. Cho reportedly said he wanted to “speak plainly about the US’ unusual adoption of a position on a regular, defensive exercise designed to protect our territory.” Sources said that Cho also asked for the US’ “understanding” since such remarks “don’t help strengthen South Korea-US relations.”

“Given the recent disagreements between the ROK and Japan, the timing, messaging, and increased scale of military drills at Liancourt Rocks [Dokdo] are not productive toward resolving ongoing issues,” Yonhap News quoted the spokesperson as saying.

While sources didn’t say how Harris responded to Cho’s remarks, the American government appears to be still asking South Korea to reconsider its GSOMIA decision.

By Noh Ji-won, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories