A cold-headed approach, please

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A cold-headed approach, please


An incident took place at the Ministry of National Defense when the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) was signed between Korea and Japan on Wednesday, after the ministry suddenly reversed its position to allow the journalists to cover the signing ceremony. The reporters demanded the signing ceremony be covered for the people’s right to know, but this request was rejected.

Photojournalists then took action. As Japanese Ambassador to Korea Yasumasa Nagamine entered the ministry for the ceremony, they put their cameras on the floor and watched him with folded arms, refusing to take photos.

The bilateral intelligence agreement, once pursued in 2012 but failed, was finally signed after 27 years. But it still was trouble-ridden until the end.

The signing wasn’t easy. Three opposition parties, including the opposition Minjoo Party, protested the government’s unilateral attempt to sign the agreement. They said it was premature to sign the sensitive agreement with Tokyo when taking into account pending bilateral issues such as Japan’s attempts to whitewash its colonial past in the history textbooks, its repeated claim over Dokdo and the comfort women issue.

Critics said we should wait because Korea will soon, in five to 10 years, have the intelligence capability offered by Japan’s reconnaissance satellites, Aegis ships and maritime patrol aircraft. Some wondered if the pact was a part of Japan’s strategy to become a military superpower. Some also questioned if our military was pushing ahead to dilute the Choi Soon-sil scandal. The opposition parties threatened to impeach Defense Minister Han Min-koo.

There is, however, no need to stress the importance of intelligence in modern war. In fact, intelligence is the weakest point of our military. As North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities are rapidly advancing, some assessed that its possession of nuclear weapons was a matter of time. Under such circumstances, intelligence is an imminent issue. The more diversified and more accurate the information is, the more enhanced our military counteraction will be. Japan’s ability to collect intelligence is much better than ours, thanks to its five intelligence satellites.

Security is a matter that cannot be traded for those of us who experienced the Korean War. Ahn Chang-ho, a prominent leader of our independence movement against Japan decades ago, said a country’s destiny is decided by power. When a country is mired in a domestic crisis, which affects its international relations. We must approach the security issues more calmly and cold-headedly, even though we hate the government.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 24, Page 33

*The author is a political news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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