The military cooperation between South Korea, the US, and Japan, which had a reaction to check China,
became the cause of solidarity between North Korea, China, and Russia.
These military cooperation is a new phenomenon that did not exist after the Korean War.
Northeast Asia has entered an era of turbulence. The leaders of Korea, the United States, and Japan declared a ‘new era of cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan’ at the trilateral summit at Camp David last month. The trilateral cooperation system that the United States strongly wanted to keep China in check was expanded to the level of a paramilitary alliance. The movements of North Korea, China, and Russia are also unusual. North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un departed Pyongyang for Russia on the 10th at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. The confrontational structure between Korea, the United States, and Japan and North Korea, China, and Russia is becoming clearer.
Regarding the North Korea-Russia summit, former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok predicted, “Close cooperation beyond the level of military friendship and comprehensive economic cooperation will be discussed.” Former Minister Lee said, “Trilateral military cooperation between North Korea, China, and Russia has never occurred since the Korean War,” and called it “a new phenomenon.” The reason was “military cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan.” It is said that the movement of South Korea, the United States, and Japan, which came together to keep China in check, became the cause of the solidarity of North Korea, China, and Russia as a reaction.
Former Minister Lee expressed strong concern about military cooperation between South Korea, the United States, and Japan, the benefits of which are unclear, saying, “The current ROK-U.S. combined forces have sufficient deterrent power against North Korea’s nuclear weapons.” Former Minister Lee predicted that considering the interdependence in the global economy, the United States and China will eventually find a point of contact for coexistence. He advised the Yoon Seok-yeol government, “We must maintain center and balance and seek the optimal national interest.”
I met former Minister Lee at the Sejong Research Institute in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do on the 6th. An additional interview was conducted over the phone on the 12th regarding Chairman Kim’s visit to Russia.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons can be deterred through a joint ROK-US strategy, so
it is dangerous to follow the ROK-US-Japan alliance
alone. Why is Japan paving the way for militarism and doing whatever it wants
? – The leaders of Korea, the US and Japan held the Camp David meeting. A new era of Japan-Japan cooperation has been declared. How do you evaluate the cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan that has expanded to the military field?
“The logic of the Yoon Seok-yeol administration is that cooperation between Korea and the United States must be strengthened on the premise that the era of decoupling between the U.S. and China is deepening and will continue to deepen. The United States showed such strength in its pursuit of containing China, but since the beginning of this year, there has been talk that there are limits, and de-risking has come out. Both say they are trying to keep China in check, but they are recognizing the limitations of decoupling. In the end, the world cannot continue to deepen decoupling between the US and China, which will lead to disaster. As Derisking says, few people think China will give in. Few people think that the United States will be defeated. I think we will eventually take the form of coexistence. While we pursue decoupling between the U.S. and China, if we say that cooperation between Korea, the U.S., and Japan is at the level of an alliance, doesn’t that mean we are excluding China? So where will we go when the US-China decoupling is resolved? At least, if Donald Trump becomes President of the United States next year, we don’t know where the world will turn. Our interests are bound to be geopolitically different from those of the United States or Japan. This government ignores everything we have learned and experienced in the most rudimentary way. In that respect, it is dangerous to go solely on alliances, which can be called ‘alliance reductionism.’”
– The government now says that economy and security cannot be separated.
“Ahn Mi-kyung-jung (the United States for security and China for the economy) may seem like a plausible statement, but it cannot be achieved. Were security and economics separate in the past? Where economic interests are concentrated, security interests also arise. Of course, there are places where there are special security interests. Not only do we have close security interests with the United States, but we are also economically close. Of course, the security relationship with China is less than the economic relationship, but as the economic relationship deepens, the security relationship also needs to be improved. That’s why no administration in the past did security or economy separately.”
– Is there any other reason why the Yoon Seok-yeol government does that?
“It’s difficult to find the reason. If Korea-China relations become dangerous and Korea-US-Japan solidarity is extremely strengthened, new national interests must be created that can cover the enormous losses arising from the deterioration of Korea-China relations. ‘I’m doing this because I like it’ cannot be a reason. But I can’t remember what that national interest is. If we believe that there is a high possibility that the United States and China will someday coexist, we cannot go as the United States demands, and it is not in our complete national interest to faithfully follow U.S. interests. “I have no idea what benefit there is for us in making endless concessions and rushing toward improving relations with Japan.”
– The Yoon Seok-yeol government expresses it as ‘value.’
“How ridiculous this is. The reason so many countries on Earth can coexist is because they recognize and at least respect each other’s differences. A country that does not want to acknowledge this difference is a superpower. The United States sometimes talks about values, but it does so when it is advantageous but not when it is disadvantageous. Even the United States uses human rights and values strategically and tactically, and if we were to say that we are the absolute standard, we would be the only one in the world except the United States. We would like to conduct diplomacy based on the values of liberal democracy and freedom and human rights, but doing so may lead to conflicts and conflicts, and there are many risks. Besides, we don’t have the power to do that. “If you advocate value diplomacy, it is not right for President Yoon to try to get along with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, which is a dictatorship and a dynasty.”
– There is also great public concern about military cooperation with Japan.
“Even if North Korea has nuclear weapons, the combined forces of South Korea and the United States are sufficient for deterrence. There is nothing wrong with having more information and response capabilities, but what we have to give to strengthen military cooperation with Japan is very critical. Aren’t they giving generously to Japan in matters ranging from forced conscription to history and other issues? Why do we give up important issues related to national sovereignty and national dignity without gaining anything? North Korea invaded South Korea 73 years ago, and it was 78 years ago that we escaped Japanese imperialism. There is no law preventing a revival of Japan’s militaristic ambitions. No one can predict. But why do we give way to Japan’s militarism and do whatever we want?”
– The leaders of Korea, the United States, and Japan will hold trilateral summits on a regular basis. They said they would continue even if the government of each country changes.
“It seems like this government wants to move toward a Korea-Japan alliance. The alliance requires National Assembly consent and ratification. If the government attempts this, I believe it will meet resistance that will shake the regime. So, we have prepared such procedures in consideration of the burden and resistance of public opinion, but if there is a change in government in Korea, we are not obligated to accept it as is. Because it is not a treaty or agreement. “I believe that corrections are inevitable regarding the Japanese issue and the process of moving toward the Korea-U.S.-Japan alliance.”
-What do you think about the expression ‘new cold war’?
“The expression ‘new cold war’ is not entirely wrong. The core of the Cold War starts from ideological conflict. The United States raises human rights issues in China, and since it involves ideological issues, it has a new Cold War character in part. Whether this will lead to a new Cold War is another question. The new Cold War must be an ideological confrontation, but China is neither capable nor willing to export communist ideology. Also, China did not develop its economy through communist ideology. “China is moving together in the global market economic system, and considering the dependence of the U.S. and China on the world, it seems like they are fighting fiercely, but I think it is difficult to end up in a new Cold War.”
– Chairman Kim Jong-un visited Russia at the invitation of President Putin. What do you think of the significance of Chairman Kim’s visit to Russia?
“I believe it was carried out in close connection with the currently developing international situation, strengthening military cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan, and the wars in Ukraine and Russia. It seems to have a multipurpose meaning. First of all, it seems likely that close military cooperation will go beyond the level of friendship between North Korea and Russia in the past. One is the issue of arms exchange, and the other is concrete and practical military cooperation. It remains to be seen whether military cooperation will include military training, but I think cooperation in nuclear-powered submarine technology and the modernization of North Korea’s weapons have already been discussed. Second, I believe that comprehensive economic cooperation will also play an equally important role. “Although China is fundamentally responsible for North Korea’s people’s livelihood, cooperation with Russia in raw materials such as natural gas, crude oil, and coke, provision of North Korean labor in the Far East such as lumberjacks, and humanitarian aid can also be discussed.”
– The United States has been warning every day that it will ‘pay a price’ for arms trade between North Korea and Russia.
“I understand, but what are the means? The United States has exhausted all available sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile ( ICBM ) launches. There are almost no cards that can hurt North Korea. The decisive remaining card is China, and it appears that it will not join the additional sanctions demanded by the United States. “The United States is blocking and keeping China in check, so there is no way they will listen to the United States.”
– There is also an analysis that China’s position regarding military closeness between North Korea and Russia will be uncomfortable.
“The period when China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea had common interests and cooperated militarily was from 1950 to 1953 until the Korean War. During the 30 years of the Cold War from the 1960s to the 1980s, trilateral military cooperation was completely impossible due to the conflict between China and the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no trilateral military cooperation as the military alliance between North Korea and Russia disbanded and China took the path of a market economy. Since the end of the Korean War, there has never been a single time when the three parties had the same interests and cooperated militarily. But now the possibility of that new phenomenon appearing has increased. The key reason is military cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan. While talking about strengthening military cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan, you explicitly said that the United States would keep China in check. Right now, China may feel some burden about military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, but there is no reason to oppose it. The biggest burden so far is the military conflict between China and Russia, which has been resolved and is leading to joint military exercises. China will probably feel some pressure from the West’s criticism of North Korea-China-Russia military cooperation. However, in a situation where the United States is mobilizing its allies to block China and strengthening military cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan in Northeast Asia, it is questionable how much that burden will deter China’s actions. Perhaps China is also seeing the timing as moving toward military cooperation between North Korea, China, and Russia. “I think China has now reached a stage where it is hinting at the possibility of pursuing military cooperation between North Korea, China, and Russia.”
Considering the US and Chinese economies, we will eventually find a point of coexistence, but
the Yoon administration must remain centered and pursue optimal national interests.
– If South Korea, the United States, and Japan and North Korea, China, and Russia become confrontational, the Korean Peninsula will inevitably become an arena for confrontation between factions.
“We are a peninsula nation sandwiched between an ocean and a continent. In particular, we are at a point where power between great powers is at a standstill and there is a risk of conflict. Although it is difficult, maintaining focus and balance is the core task of our diplomacy. There is not always a perfect score, but the optimal national interest is sought. The Chinese army came in because North Korea invaded the South and started a war on the Korean Peninsula. Because of this historical origin, China also recognizes the ROK-US alliance centered on the US Forces Korea. It’s a strong asset for us. However, if we cross this line and move toward a Korea-US-Japan alliance, and if we subsume the Korea-US alliance not on the Korean Peninsula but in the global strategy pursued by the United States and its China containment strategy, we will be breaking away from the framework of the existing alliance. This is where the risk comes from. The most dangerous thing is tit for tat , where the confrontation continues to escalate. We need the wisdom to press this. In fact, previous Korean governments tried to prevent alliances and factions in Northeast Asia. However, it is surprising that the Yoon Seok-yeol스포츠토토 government is acting as a facilitator rather than preventing it.”
-What is the current stage of inter-Korean relations?
“During the Cold War, North and South Korea faced off like hostile nations. Nevertheless, even though it was a different dream, I pursued unification. Currently, we are in a situation where two hostile countries are separated, and neither are pursuing unification. It is not good if there are too many words in a confrontation that can provoke the other person. Even if North Korea had nuclear weapons, I think it is highly unlikely that an all-out war would intentionally break out on the Korean Peninsula. However, there is a possibility of accidental collision due to misunderstanding and misjudgment. Chairman Kim even said that if war broke out, he would occupy the entire territory. Right now, we are engaging in the most childish sit-in war between each other. “It wasn’t to this extent even during the Cold War.”
– President Yoon criticizes the previous government’s inter-Korean relations as a ‘fake peace.’
“It is true that a peace regime is not being established on the Korean Peninsula. However, because each government, both progressive and conservative, made efforts for peace, the people were able to live more comfortably and the Korean economy was able to develop even amidst the Korea discount. They say that the Yoon Seok-yeol government is protecting freedom from communist totalitarianism, but they make statements that seem to criticize past governments as if they were anti-state forces. Over the past 25 years, the country, which was economically at risk due to the foreign exchange crisis in 1997 at the end of the Kim Young-sam administration, has grown into an advanced economy and created the K industry following the K-Korean Wave and K-culture. Of the 25 years, 15 years were under progressive presidents and Democratic governments. The progressive and conservative governments have done some things well and some things they have not done well, but they have all worked together to get this far. President Yoon is on top of that. But if you ignore all past governments, where will you be?”
– How do you evaluate the Yoon Seok-yeol government’s policy toward North Korea?
“We only talk about strong power, but what is clear is that physical force alone cannot strengthen security. We are now a global leading country and are joining the ranks of advanced countries. It’s not just that we don’t have nuclear weapons, but there’s no change in the fact that we have system capabilities and economic capabilities that are dozens of times greater than those of North Korea. But should we still live with the risk and worry that war could destroy everything we have achieved? “We need to look for ways to reduce that concern and prevent that from happening.”