SOUTH KOREA: Forgive But Never Forget

Until recently, the stage seemed set for South Korea and Japan to sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, but South Korea suddenly decided to back down from the agreement. The GSOMIA would have been the first agreement to permit the exchange of military intelligence between South Korea and Japan. It could be helpful to South Korea, given the tension between them and North Korea, and the possibility of Japan having intelligence on North Korea.

However, there are two issues that made it nearly impossible for South Korea to sign the agreement. First, South Korea is a democracy, but they didn’t ask the citizens for their approval of the agreement. This is nearly eclipsed by Korea’s historic conflict with Japan, the second issue of impediment against the contract. In the early twentieth century, Korea was compelled to bend to a humiliation of decades of oppressive Japanese colonization. As a result, many South Koreans still have resentment against the now-democratic Japanese, making an agreement between the two politically risky.

South Korea could preserve democracy and gain the majority’s approval of the treaty by using the media to advertise the benefits of the GSOMIA. The fact of the matter is that another Japanese colonization is extremely unlikely. Sometimes being bogged down in memories of the past can lead one to repeat it. On the whole the Korean national goverment in Seoul should have handled this important matter with more skill.

South Korea: Japan, Japanese, prejudice, GSOMIA, military, intelligence, treaty, South Koreans, colonization.

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