Alarms on securityWhile North Korea continues to test new missiles, the South Korea-U.S. alliance shows some serious signs of cracking, particularly after the Moon Jae-in administration decided to sever the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) with Japan. Given the significance of Gsomia as a symbol of tripartite security cooperation, Seoul’s act of scrapping it despite strong opposition from security experts is the same as self-harm. The U.S. government wanted to counter North Korean nuclear threats — and put the brakes on China’s expansion — through trilateral security cooperation. That’s why U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper both stressed the importance of maintaining Gsomia during their recent trips to Seoul.
Yet the Moon administration made a drastic decision which would not help any of the three countries. In an alarming sign, the U.S. government went so far as to express deep concerns and disappointment about its ally by describing it as the “Moon Jae-in administration,” not South Korea.
What is more baffling is the Moon administration fueling suspicions that it lied in the lead-up to the obfuscating decision. The Blue House insisted that Washington understood Seoul’s decision to end the agreement. But the U.S. government sources refuted that statement. Such a discrepancy itself is shocking.
The international environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula is getting worse as South Korea is increasingly isolated from allies. While U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is pressuring Seoul to share more of its defense cost, South Korea has the worst-ever relations with Japan. Moreover, North Korea once again test-fired advanced rockets Saturday even after the joint South Korea-U.S. military exercise was over. Considering the 600-kilometer (373 mile) range of the rockets, they must be aimed at South Korea.
The government is weakening its alliance with the United States despite unceasing threats from North Korea. If such discrepancies continues, Uncle Sam may be tempted to rearrange the alliance in Northeast Asia around the United States and Japan and exclude South Korea.
The Moon administration must avert South Korea’s isolation from the security alliance. To that end, it needs to conduct a drill to defend the Dokdo islets quietly so as not to provoke Japan. The best way to safeguard national security is to build a solid alliance. The government must restore the Trump administration’s trust and resolve the trade row with Japan as soon as possible.