Country Report: South Korea (September & October 2022)

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The early autumn of 2022 saw conservative and progressive news sources focusing on ongoing issues without the drama of the Ukraine War and the Taiwan Strait conflict rising to the center of attention as they had earlier in the year. Again. the United States and North Korea captured the most interest, the former for renewed military exercises and alliance responses to the North, and the latter for missile tests and a new, threatening nuclear doctrine. In the case of China, the 20th Party Congress raised further concern with little thought that deteriorating relations could be reversed. As for Japan, closer military cooperation in a trilateral context with the US won approval from the conservative side but drew some warnings from the progressive side. Given the low level of disagreement on alarm about North Korea, concern about China, and the need for close ties to the US, the debate in Seoul was relatively subdued in this time of relative lull. Perhaps, the biggest exception was the concern raised about US economic policy, described in South Korea as a reversion to “America First” and causing dismay across the political spectrum.    

On September 20, President Yoon Suk-yeol delivered a keynote speech at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, where he addressed the significance of freedom and solidarity to support international rules and counter global crises. In contrast to those two values, mentioned 21 and 8 times each, there was one thing that was left unsaid but garnered the most attention, North Korea. In September and October, North Korea continued to launch a barrage of missiles, including short-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. With a grave security threat posed by North Korea, which has already carried out 27 rounds of missile tests this year alone, South Korea announced its unilateral sanctions against North Korea for the first time in five years.

While North Korea was paving the way for its 7th nuclear test, China’s leader Xi Jinping consolidated his power at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As the CCP enshrined its stern opposition to Taiwan’s independence in its constitution, Xi’s seizure of the norm-breaking third term foreshadowed a grim future for further regional division between the US-led alliances and the China-Russia-North Korea triangle. With deepening tensions in the region, Seoul sought to strengthen trilateral security cooperation with Washington and Tokyo. However, as the US Inflation Reduction Act, which excludes electric vehicles assembled outside the US, was likely to hurt South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia, the legislation emerged as one of the major issues of ROK-US relations. Given the diversity and complexity of challenges at every corner, South Korea seems to have its plate full more than ever.

ROK-US Relations
ROK-US Joint Military Drills with a Resumption of Field Training
In August and September, South Korea and the United States held their largest joint military drills amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS), and the joint maritime counter-special operations exercise. The UFS, held from August 22 to September 1, unveiled some significant changes to the military drills, including the name of the military exercise, the integration of the government’s civil defense drills (Ulchi), and the resumption of field training. The joint maritime exercise was held in the East Sea from September 26 to 29 with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG), demonstrating the US’ “clear commitment to the alliance.”1

South Korea and the US conducted the Field Training Exercise (FTX) and the computer-simulated Command Post Exercise (CPX) this year. For the first time during the UFS, General Paul J. LaCamera, commander of the Combined Forces Command (CFC), and General Ahn Byung-seok, deputy commander of the CFC, exchanged their duties to assess the Full Operational Capability (FOC).2 Welcoming the resumption of the field training, Chosun Ilbo criticized the fact that the ROK-US joint military drills had been ossified for the past four years under the previous Moon Jae-in administration. Concerning Yoon Suk-yeol’s “audacious initiative,” it strongly urged that any adjustment or suspension of the ROK-US joint military exercises should not be subject to negotiation.3

Although the alliance highlighted these joint military drills as “defensive” in nature, there was concern about North Korea’s possible saber-rattling against South Korea and the US, especially after Pyongyang announced a new law on preemptive use of nuclear weapons in September. On August 16, the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that the UFS aimed at ensuring the ROK-US combined defense posture.4 Concerning the purpose of the drills, the Ministry of National Defense stated that the two parts of the UFS are each aimed at cultivating capabilities to manage the wartime system and all-out national warfare and at conducting the practice of counterattack against North Korea to secure the safety of the metropolitan area.5 During this period, Pyongyang responded only through its media, denouncing the combined exercises as “practice to invade North Korea.”6 Kyunghyang Shinmun paid attention to the North’s state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which warned of a military confrontation and said: “the United States and South Korea seem to be hoping that Pyongyang will conduct a nuclear test as soon as possible.”7

Tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula rose further as North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) toward the East Sea on September 25, a day before the ROK-US combined maritime exercise. The missile was assumed to be KN-23, similar to the Russian Iskander. The National Security Council criticized the missile launch as a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and an act of provocation that escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. The military authorities saw it as a part of the weapons development process to strengthen North Korea’s national defense in the long term under the direction of Kim Jong-un.8

Chosun Ilbo refrained from affirming the intentions of North Korea’s SRBM launch but paid attention to the possibility of further provocations, urging that the best way to break the North’s will for saber-rattling is to show the alliance’s overwhelming ability for retribution.9 On the other hand, Seoul Shinmun argued that the North’s September 25 missile launch served multiple purposes, such as expressing opposition to the ROK-US combined exercise, accusing Seoul and Washington of increasing tension on the Korean Peninsula, and creating a rift in the international community to ease sanctions against North Korea.10 Regardless of the uncertainty of whether Pyongyang intended to return to the “power to power confrontation,” Hankook Ilbo noted that it foreshadowed a grim future of further provocations and a lack of effort to relieve tensions.11

The US Inflation Reduction Act and Export Controls on Semiconductor
Early in September, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Biden administration’s landmark law to curb inflation, emerged as one of the most significant issues that overshadowed ROK-US relations. Under the Act, the new tax credits for adopting electric vehicles (EV) do not apply to those assembled outside the United States. It appeared highly likely that the IRA would pose a threat to South Korea’s major automakers, including Hyundai and Kia Motors, which recorded the second-highest market share in the US EV market during the first half of this year. The Yoon administration exerted efforts through diplomatic channels to come up with countermeasures.

On September 1, Kim Sung-han, director of the National Security Office, met with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Japan’s National Security Secretariat Secretary General Akiba Takeo in Hawaii. In South Korea, the trilateral talks are considered an opportunity to address the country’s concerns over the US Inflation Reduction Act. However, as the meeting ended without any breakthrough, Hankook Ilbo expressed disappointment and doubt about the effectiveness of the ROK-US “global comprehensive strategic alliance” announced in May.12 Despite the government’s effort to establish a bilateral channel to discuss the issue further,13 it was not considered promising. Hankyoreh charged that the US was eager to share the burden with its allies but monopolized the profits. It urged the government to recalibrate its trade strategy in response to the challenge of “America First.”14

Calling it “discrimination” that ignores the interest of the allies, Segye Ilbo argued that the Act would seriously impede Washington’s efforts to establish a new supply chain without China.15 In addition, Joongang Ilbo condemned the IRA for violating the principle of “national treatment” in the KORUS free trade agreement, urging the US government to understand that it is a matter of trust between South Korea and the US, going beyond the level of individual companies.16 Dong-a Ilbo editorialized that despite opposition from major allies, including the European Union and Japan, the US would not revise the law before the upcoming midterm elections.17 Nevertheless, Chosun Ilbo urged the Yoon administration to continue to persuade the US government.18 Hankook Ilbo echoed this view, stressing that the IRA was not only against the free market economy but also against the US national interest of strengthening solidarity with its allies.19

On October 5, the South Korean Presidential Office announced that Yoon received a letter from Biden indicating that he was aware of South Korean concerns over the fallout of the Inflation Reduction Act on South Korean carmakers and that his government would continue to consult with South Korea “in a candid and open-minded manner.”20 The conservative Donga Ilbo editorialized that Biden’s personal letter, which was an unusual means of communication between the leaders of the allied countries, was somewhat awkward, prompting speculation that the letter was an effort of the Yoon administration to assuage domestic criticism over its series of diplomatic gaffes and controversies that followed Yoon’s September visit to the UK and UN. Questioning how flexible Biden’s executive office can be in enforcing the act passed by Congress, the newspaper called on South Korea not to make a quick decision that the US will offer adjustments and to be ready to make a ‘principled response’ to the violations of WTO and FTA.21 The Financial News editorialized that as the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service work out the details, the South Korea government should engage in advanced negotiations with the US to postpone the implementation of the tax incentives for EVs at least until October 2024, the date by which the construction of the South Korean carmaker Hyundai’s EV and battery manufacturing plant will be completed in the US state of Georgia.22

Two days later, when the US Department of Commerce released new rules of export controls on advanced computing and semiconductor manufacturing items to China, the restrictions were expected to pose another threat to South Korea. This time, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the two largest chipmakers in the country that operate chip manufacturing plants in China faced a bleak outlook in light of the intensifying US-China competition. Although Samsung and SK Hynix were granted one-year waivers from the restrictions, the uncertainty remained.

Major media outlets underscored the urgency of establishing a long-term plan to support key industries while refraining from picking a side between the US and China. Hankook Ilbo argued that the US government’s decision on the scope of the restrictions would have an enormous impact on South Korea as the Chinese market accounts for 40% of South Korea’s semiconductor exports.23 Considering the US-China trade war and the risk of global recession, Hankook Kyungjae stressed the need for enactment of a “K-Chips” act, equivalent to the CHIPS for America Act, to secure competitiveness.24 Addressing the IRA as an important example, Kyunghyang Shinmun editorialized that the government should not repeat the same mistake of responding late to the US legislation but consult with the US in a timely, proactive manner.25 Highlighting the “discrimination” of the IRA against US allies, Hankyoreh focused on the significance of cooperation with other countries with similar interests, such as European countries and Japan, to raise their voice at the US and China if necessary.26

US Vice President Kamala Harris’s Visit to South Korea
On September 29, Kamala Harris made a one-day visit to South Korea after attending the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Yoon Suk-yeol had a meeting with her to discuss a broad range of issues including the ROK-US alliance, North Korea’s growing nuclear threat, and economic security.27 With the new tax incentive for electric vehicles in the US as one of the most pressing issues, major media outlets paid close attention to whether Yoon would be able to propose solutions to ease domestic concerns over the IRA.

According to the presidential office, Yoon expressed concern about possible discrimination against Korean carmakers under the IRA and said he looked forward to working closely to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. In response, Harris noted that she understood Seoul’s concerns and pledged to continue to consult as the law comes into effect.28 Hankook Ilbo remarked that it was positive to garner the attention of the highest level in Washington but emphasized that the meeting should lead to measurable outcomes, such as a grace period for Korean EVs and incentives for the construction of EV and car battery plants in the United States by the end of the year.29 Likewise, Segye Ilbo noted that Harris’s remarks should not be an empty promise but turn out to be an opportunity to find a real solution.30

Harris visited the demilitarized zone (DMZ) amid growing concerns that North Korea was about to carry out its 7th nuclear test. North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) a day before she arrived in Seoul and once again fired two SRBMs toward the East Sea following her departure to Washington.31 During her visit, Harris highlighted that the border area offered “a stark reminder of the dramatically different paths of two Koreas,” denouncing the North as a country with a brutal dictatorship, an illegal weapons program, and human rights violations.32

Seoul Shinmun editorialized that Harris’s tour to the DMZ was symbolic in itself, sending a strong message to Pyongyang and reaffirming the firmness of the ROK-US alliance.33 Kukmin Ilbo noted that given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat and its possible impact on Kim Jong-un’s decision making, Harris’s visit to South Korea was timely to reaffirm the strength of the ROK-US alliance.34 Likewise, Joongang Ilbo addressed the significance of her remarks at the border area and expressed hope that her visit would add momentum for a sustainable ROK-US alliance based on mutual respect and cooperation.35

Redeployment of Tactical Nuclear Weapons to South Korea
From October 11 until October 12, amid the increasing North Korean provocations, South Korea’s president and some members of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) raised the possibility and importance of redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea and of abolishing the military confidence-building measure and denuclearization agreements with North Korea. On October 12, Yoon Suk-yeol answered a press question on the possibility of redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons that his government was “listening and examining various opinions from academia and the government in South Korea and the US.” On the same day, Chung Jin-suk, a head of the ruling People Power Party’s emergency standing committee, argued in his Facebook post that South Korea should abolish the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the 2018 military agreement with North Korea, if the North conducts a seventh nuclear test while Kim Ki Hyun, a representative from the PPP eyeing selection as the next party leader, on October 19, during a radio interview argued that South Korea should look into all measures including redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons, nuclear-sharing, or developing an independent nuclear force.36

The US reaction to South Korea’s growing calls to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons was muted with somewhat negative undertones. US Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg said during a public forum held in Seoul that “all this talk about tactical nuclear weapons, whether it comes from Putin or Kim Jong-un is irresponsible and dangerous” while National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby during a press briefing declined to comment on a question whether the US may consider redeploying its tactical nuclear weapons to South Korean soil. Meanwhile State Department Spokesperson Ned Price only said that Biden “affirmed the US extended deterrence commitment to the ROK…including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.”37

Amid the growing fissures, South Korean newspapers called on the government and the ruling party to approach the issue in a circumspect manner. The conservative Joongang Ilbo editorialized that nuclear armament and redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons were the issues that South Korea cannot decide independently and would result in enormous repercussions. It added that Seoul should prioritize getting the US to take action on its extended deterrence commitment by preparing and reviewing detailed response scenarios.38 The conservative Segye Ilbo editorialized that Seoul should be mindful of various aspects relating to the redeployment issue including domestic and US opposition and discuss the issue carefully to prevent it from becoming a source of conflict with the US.39 The center-right Hankook Ilbo editorialized that the government would be acting irresponsibility if it raised the sensitive security issue haphazardly without weighing its benefits and costs and coordinating fully with the US.40

North Korea
North Korea’s New Law on its Preemptive Use of Nuclear Weapons
On September 8, North Korea announced a new law on its nuclear forces policy passed at the 7th Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly. Stressing the importance of the law, which outlines the terms of the preemptive use of nuclear force, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his determination not to give up nuclear weapons, accusing the United States of aiming to topple the regime.41 In addition to Pyongyang’s repeated saber-rattling this year, its new law further raised concern about the North, paving the way for its 7th nuclear test.

The “Nuclear Forces Policy Act” states five conditions for preemptive use of nuclear weapons. The conditions include when a nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction attack have been carried out or are imminent; when a nuclear or non-nuclear attack by hostile forces against the leadership or the national nuclear force command body has been carried out or is imminent; when a fatal military attack has been carried out or is imminent on the country’s critical strategic targets; when there is an unavoidable necessity to prevent the expansion and prolongation of war and seize the initiative in war; and when a catastrophic crisis occurs to the existence of the country and the safety of the people, leaving no choice but to respond with nuclear weapons.42 North Korea’s clarity on these conditions was open to diverse interpretation.

Hankyoreh paid attention to the clarity and transparency of the North’s nuclear doctrine, which seemed unusual, as most nuclear powers prefer ambiguity to diversify their strategic options. It noted that North Korea appeared to “increase the deterrence by disclosing its nuclear doctrine clearly and concretely.”43 On the other hand, Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat and currently a member of the National Assembly in South Korea, noted that Pyongyang seemed to be receiving necessary support from China on condition of a temporary suspension of the 7th nuclear test.44

In response to North Korea’s new law, the Yoon administration reaffirmed its commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea. The ruling PPP strongly argued that the North’s nuclear threat can no longer be a means of negotiation but an empty cry to protect Kim Jong-un regime.45 Expressing strong regret over the North’s hostile position, Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said that Pyongyang’s new law on its nuclear force policy would only cause “fatal losses to both South and North Korea.”46

Major media outlets warned that North Korea’s legislation would only deepen its isolation in the international community. In the face of Pyongyang’s “outright and offensive nuclear threat,” Joongang Ilbo called for bipartisan efforts to respond decisively to the unstable security environment.47 Segye Ilbo stressed the importance of the combined deterrence of Seoul and Washington to counter North Korea’s misjudgment and reckless provocations.48 For this reason, Hankook Ilbo argued that the two countries should discuss the US nuclear umbrella and other diplomatic solutions in depth at the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) meeting.49 Kyunghyang Shinmun pointed out that Kim Jong-un’s “irreversible” policy on nuclear weapons and his urgent need to solve economic problems are at odds with each other, arguing that its nuclear policy and next nuclear test, which is assumed to be highly likely, would end up with the international community strengthening sanctions against North Korea.50

October 4 IRBM Launch
On October 4, at around 7:23 a.m. local time, North Korea test-fired an intermediate-range missile that overflew Japan for the first time in five years. According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the missile was launched at Mupyong-ri in the Northern province of Jagang, flying around 4,500 km to a maximum altitude of around 970 km at a top speed of Mach 17.51 South Korea and the international community strongly condemned the missile launch. General Kim Seung-kyum, Chairman of the South Korean JCS, said the provocative act “would further strengthen deterrence and the response of the South Korea-US alliance and only deepen [North Korea’s] isolation from the international community” while the US National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a released statement that “the United States strongly condemns the DPRK’s dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan.”52 The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also issued a statement that said, “this was a reckless act and a violation of Security Council resolutions”53 France and the United Kingdom, two permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Canada, Australia, Ukraine, and Taiwan also denounced the launch as undermining regional and international security and violating obligations imposed by the relevant UN resolutions.54 South Korea, the United States, and Japan, acting in unison, increased diplomatic pressure on North Korea by holding separate calls between the US secretary of state with the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers on October 3, an open briefing at the UN Security Council on October 5, and a call between Yoon and his Japanese counterpart Kishida on October 6. At the UN Security Council meeting, the US Ambassador Linda-Thomas Greenfield also criticized China and Russia, two permanent members of the Security Council, for providing “blanket protection” to North Korea and “justifying the DPRK’s repeated provocations.”55

All the newspapers in South Korea across the political spectrum condemned North Korea’s missile launch. The conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized that the missile launch had been forecast, given Kim Jong Un’s need to showcase his military accomplishments to consolidate his support base ahead of the October 10 founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, adding that the only way to keep peace would be to achieve a balance of power through military might.56 The conservative Donga Ilbo editorialized that the October 4 IRBM launch likely portended the North’s more frequent provocations, adding that South Korea should not react obsessively but demonstrate its overwhelming response capabilities, strengthen the trilateral cooperation between South Korea, the US, and Japan, and review the readiness of extended deterrence.57 The conservative Joongang Ilbo editorialized that the IRBM, presumed to be a variant of Hwasong-12, travelled the longest range yet by a North Korean missile that can potentially target the US Forces in Japan and US strategic assets stationed in Guam. Given the high possibility of the North’s further missile tests and the seventh nuclear test in the future, the newspaper said building a bipartisan consensus on the North Korean threats within South Korea would be more important than ever.58 The conservative Segye Ilbo editorialized that the North’s ultimate objective is to seal its status as a nuclear weapon state and that the South Korean government should maintain airtight security posture including by deploying strategic assets as agreed at the Extended Deterrence Strategic Consultation Group (EDSCG).59 The progressive Kyunghyang Shinmun editorialized that North Korea’s recent spate of missile launches since September 25 and the South Korean and the US administrations’ riposte led to a downward spiral that significantly escalated tensions. Worrying that the trends would inevitably lead to the North’s seventh nuclear test, the newspaper called on South Korea and the US to reaffirm their intention to resolve conflict through dialogue and pursue back-channel talks with the North to deescalate the situation.60

North Korea Media Report on Seven Rounds of Missile Launches
On October 10, marking the 77th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the state media outlet Korea Central News Agency revealed details on the North’s latest seven rounds of ballistic missile launches from September 25 to October 9. According to the media’s report, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in response to the South Korea-US and South Korea-US-Japan trilateral naval drills involving the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the waters off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, guided on the spot military drills of the Korea People’s Army tactical nuclear weapon units, simulating strikes on South Korean airports, ports, and military command facilities with ballistic missiles using various platforms including an underwater silo and rocket launchers. The North Korea media added that the seven rounds of military drills demonstrated its country’s ability “to hit and wipe out the set objects at the intended places in the set time” and with regard to dialogue and negotiations the report quoted Kim as saying that “we do not have anything to talk about nor do we feel the need to do so.”61

The conservative Joongang Ilbo editorialized that the seven rounds of ballistic missile launches, conducted at various locations in different conditions, made clear North Korea’s intention to coerce South Korea and the US. The newspaper claimed that in response to the North’s new level of threats, South Korea should be highly vigilant, review and fill any gaps in its military readiness, and prepare detailed, scenario-based response plans.62 The conservative Hankook Kyungjae editorialized that Kim Jong-un whined about the trilateral naval drill, but, in fact, used it as a pretext to test various types of missile launches and stage a massive aerial drill. Faced with the North’s orchestrated threats, the newspaper claimed that South Korea would need to maintain an airtight security posture among the public, the military, and the government and further strengthen trilateral cooperation with the US. and Japan. With regard to the trilateral cooperation, the newspaper added that South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party’s denunciation of the trilateral cooperation as pro-Japanese would end up abetting North Korea.63

ROK-China Relations
Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Congress
On October 16, China’s ruling Communist Party convened its 20th National Congress in Beijing, a once-in-five-years meeting of 2,300 senior members of the party to approve a reshuffle of the party’s top leadership including the 7-member Politburo Standing Committee, the 24-member Politburo, and the 205-member Central Committee. The meeting garnered media attention as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping was anticipated to secure a precedent-breaking third term. In his report to the congress, Xi vowed to “build a modern socialist country in all respects and advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts” while on the cross-strait issue, he said that China “will never promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all measures necessary,” stressing that “complete reunification of our country must be realized.”64

Many newspapers in South Korea criticized Xi Jinping’s keynote speech and his anticipated lifelong rule as stoking conflict and anxiety across the world. The conservative Joongang Ilbo editorialized that Xi’s keynote speech revealed that China could invade Taiwan within Xi’s term and that Xi’s China Dream would plunge the world into anxiety, adding that the South Korean government should devise a detailed and delicate diplomatic approach toward the country.65 The conservative Donga Ilbo editorialized that China under Xi’s 10-year rule saw a rebirth of Marxism-Leninism that strengthened the party’s control over politics and suppressed the private sphere and a wolf-warrior diplomacy that threatened neighboring countries, adding that China’s increasing isolation and coercion under Xi’s one-man rule would only increase instability and uncertainty in China and beyond.66 The conservative Maeil Kyungjae editorialized that one-man rule is against democracy and that Xi, who threatened the US that it would crack a head and spill blood, can be more coercive to South Korea and Taiwan, calling on the South Korean government to erect boundaries to protect its interests and reduce its dependency on China for importing key raw materials.67 The conservative Seoul Kyungjae editorialized that amid the crises highlighted by the onset of the new Cold War between the US and China, North Korea’s continued provocations and increasing ties between North Korea and China, the South Korean government should strengthen its alliance with the US to strengthen deterrence capabilities, secure its own military capabilities, and break away from cozying up to China and nurturing a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship with the country.68

ROK-Japan Relations
Yoon-Kishida Call
Following the October 4 IRBM launch of North Korea, on October 5, Yoon and Kishida held a telephone call for about 25 minutes to discuss response measures. The South Korean newspapers largely assessed the telephone conservation between the leaders as a positive turn after two years of strained relations. The conservative Joongang Ilbo editorialized that security cooperation with Japan would be a necessary condition for the well-functioning ROK-US alliance in a potential military conflict with the North as Japan can provide rear support for the US Forces in Korea and the UN Command. Noting the consensus two leaders reached during the call that they need to send a clear message to the North to restrain its provocative acts, the newspaper urged the leaders and their countries to work together to resolve the wartime labor issues and build more future-oriented relations.69 The conservative Segye Ilbo echoed the view that the telephone call was desirable and timely and that it should serve as a starting point to increased trilateral cooperation between South Korea, the US, and Japan for responding against North Korean nuclear threats and reinstating the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).70 The conservative Seoul Shinmun noted that South Korea should spare no effort in strengthening the trilateral cooperation as a high-profile gathering of countries that share the value of freedom to put a halt to the activities of North Korea, China, and Russia that destroy the current world order.71 The center-right Kukmin Ilbo editorialized that the need for future-oriented relations between South Korea and Japan increased more than ever in the midst of a changing world order evidenced by the US-China competition and the ongoing Ukraine war, adding that the South Korean opposition party’s criticism of the recently held naval exercises among South Korea, the US, and Japan for permitting Japanese maritime Self-Defense Force vessels access to the East Sea was myopic.72

In contrast to conservative newspapers, the progressive Hankyoreh editorialized that although security cooperation with Japan could have some merit, South Korea might weaken its own diplomatic leverage vis-à-vis Japan if it prioritizes security interests at the expense of the wartime labor issues. The newspaper added that the increased cooperation among South Korea, the US, and Japan could have the danger of solidifying triangular ties between North Korea, China, and Russia.73



1. “USS Ronald Reagan in S. Korea for joint drills against N. Korean threats,” Yonhap News Agency, September 23, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20220923000453325.

2. “한미 연합연습 ‘을지 자유의 방패’, 새롭게 시작합니다!” 대한민국 정책브리핑, August 16, 2022, https://www.korea.kr/news/visualNewsView.do?newsId=148904904.

3. “4년 만에 정상화되는 한미훈련, 다시는 협상카드 안 된다,” Chosun Ilbo, August 17, 2022, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2022/08/17/GU4GBOFIBJA6VJWG56QFNWX66M/.

4. “합참 ‘UFS는 방어적 연습…국가총력전 수행능력 향상,’” Hankook Kyungjae, August 16, 2022, https://www.hankyung.com/politics/article/202208164237Y.

5. “한미 ‘을지 자유의 방패’ 연합연습 돌입…北도발 대비태세 강화,” Yonhap News Agency, August 22, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/MYH20220822014100704.

6. “한미연합연습 ‘을지자유의 방패’ 1일 마무리,” Hankyoreh, September 1, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/defense/1057092.html.

7. “‘반격’ 한·미 군사훈련 2부 시작에···북 선전·공식매체 ‘방어 아닌 침략’ 맹비난,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, August 29, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/politics/north-korea/article/202208291453001.

8. “北, 美항모 반발 이스칸데르 미사일 쏴…내일부터 연합훈련,” Yonhap News Agency, September 25, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20220925015551504.

9. “부산 입항 美 항모까지 거리 계산해 쏜 北 미사일 도발,” Chosun Ilbo, September 26, 2022, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2022/09/26/AKF4NX5VTFBXTFUR4BAG4PCMOE/.

10. “한미 5년 만에 고강도 연합훈련, 北 도발 자제를,” Seoul Shinmun, September 26, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20220927027008.

11. “한미훈련 전날 미사일 쏜 北… 추가 도발 대비해야,” Hankook Ilbo, September 26, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022092513390003758.

12. “인플레 감축법 논의도 못한 한미 안보실장협의,” Hankook Ilbo, September 3, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022090215340004782.

13. “한-미, 전기차 세액공제 관련 협의채널 구축 합의,” Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, September 8, 2022, http://www.motie.go.kr/motie/ne/motienewse/Motienews/bbs/bbsView.do?bbs_cd_n=2&bbs_seq_n=155118165.

14. “‘미국 우선주의’ 대응할 새 통상정책 마련해야,” Hankyoreh, September 8, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1058104.html.

15. “美 전기차 차별에 EU·日과 공동대응하고 대통령도 나서라,” Segye Ilbo, September 6, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20220906521975.

16. “미국의 한국산 전기차 차별, 외교 총력전으로 풀자,” Joongang Ilbo, September 2, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25098925#home.

17. “EU·日도 ‘美 인플레법’ 반발… 동맹 외면한 ‘리더 국가’는 없었다,” Dong-a Ilbo, September 6, 2022, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20220905/115323361/1.

18. “동맹보다 자국 이익 우선은 불변의 진리, 대처 못한 게 문제,” Chosun Ilbo, September 7, 2022, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2022/09/07/36G6BHIBLNHL3ECL2BG5O2YTOE/.

19. “美 인플레법 대응 ‘5개국 공조’가 돌파구 돼야,” Hankook Ilbo, September 7, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022090615300005412.

20. “바이든 ‘열린 마음으로 韓과 IRA 협의’…尹대통령에게 친서 보내,” Hankook Kyungjae, October 5, 2022, https://www.hankyung.com/politics/article/2022100580281.

21. “바이든 “IRA 열린 협의”… ‘배려’ 속단 말고 냉철하게 대응해야,” Donga Ilbo, October 7, 2022, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20221006/115840272/1.

22. “새 국면 맞은 IRA법 유예 협상력 발휘하라,” Financial News, October 6, 2022, https://www.fnnews.com/news/202210061831334203.

23. “미국, 반도체 中 수출도 규제 … 전기차 실기 반복 안 돼,” Hankook Ilbo, October 6, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022100515540004728.

24. “한국 반도체 산업에 비상벨이 울리고 있다,” Hankook Kyungjae, October 7, https://www.hankyung.com/opinion/article/2022100741471.

25. “이번엔 반도체 수출 통제, 미·중 갈등 장기 대책 세워야,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, October 9, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202210092044005#c2b.

26. “미국 강력한 대중 반도체 통제, 한국 중장기적 피해 대비해야,” Hankyoreh, October 7, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1061850.html.

27. “해리스 美부통령, 방한 마치고 출국…尹 예방·DMZ 방문,” Yonhap News Agency, September 29, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20220929171900001.

28. “해리스, 尹 IRA 우려에 ‘집행시 우려 해소 방안 잘 챙겨보겠다,’” Yonhap News Agency, September 29, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20220929116900001?input=1195m.

29. “美 부통령 “한국 IRA 우려 해소안 마련”… 빈말 안 돼야,” Hankook Ilbo, September 30, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022092914450001893.

30. “美의 IRA 입장 변화 기대감 높인 해리스 부통령 방한,” Segye Ilbo, September 29, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20220929519410.

31. “최근 북한 미사일 발사 등 도발 및 한미·한미일 대응,” Yonhap News Agency, October 9, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20221009036400504.

32. “해리스, DMZ서 “북, 악랄한 정권”…북은 또 탄도미사일 쏴,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, September 29, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/politics/defense-diplomacy/article/202209292114005#c2b.

33. “DMZ서 동맹 강조한 해리스, 전기차 해법도 힘쓰길,” Seoul Shinmun, September 29, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20220930027017.

34. “북 도발에 DMZ 방문으로 경고한 해리스 미국 부통령,” Kukmin Ilbo, September 30, 2022, http://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view.asp?arcid=0924266238&code=11171111&sid1=hon.

35. “‘공고한 한·미 동맹’ 확인한 윤석열·해리스 회동,” Joongang Ilbo, September 30, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25105823#home.

36. “김기현 ‘국회의원도 전쟁터 나가야…육십 넘었지만 총 들고 나올 것,’” KBS News, October 19, 2022, https://news.kbs.co.kr/news/view.do?ncd=5581824.

37. “Talk of tactical nuke redeployment ‘irresponsible’: US ambassador,” Korea Herald, October 18, 2022, https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20221018000650; “(LEAD) U.S. remains open to dialogue with N. Korea despite Kim remarks: NSC spokesperson” Yonhap News Agency, October 12, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20221012000251325.

38. “핵우산 신뢰성 확보가 우선이다,” Joongang Ilbo, October 14, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25109073#home.

39. “전술핵 재배치, 北비핵화 정책 변경인 만큼 신중한 접근을,” Segye Ilbo, October 12, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20221012519880.

40. “與 전술핵 배치·비핵화 파기… 한미 조율은 됐나,” Hankook Ilbo, October 13, 2022, https://m.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022101216110005824.

41. “김정은 ‘미국이 노리는 건 정권 붕괴…절대 핵 포기 못해,’” Yonhap News Agency, September 9, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20220909015452504.

42. “김정은이 법으로 밝힌 ‘핵 사용 5대 조건’은,” Hankyoreh, September 9, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/defense/1058180.html.

43. “북, 왜 핵무기 매뉴얼 5가지 못박았나…‘억지력 키우려는 듯,’” Hankyoreh, September 12, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/diplomacy/1058296.html.

44. “與 ‘북한 핵무력 법제화, 여전히 국제정세 오판…고립자초,’” Yonhap News Agency, September 9, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20220909033901001.

45. “국민의힘, 北핵무력 법제화에 ‘국제정세 오판, 고립 자초,’” Seoul Shinmun, September 9, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20220909500069.

46. “이재명, 북한 핵무력 법제화에 ‘한반도 평화·안정 전혀 도움 되지 않아, 강한 유감 표명,’” Kyunghyang Shinmun, September 11, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/politics/defense-diplomacy/article/202209111449001#c2b.

47. “‘선제적 핵공격’ 법에 못박은 북한의 위험한 도박,” Joongang Ilbo, September 13, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25101137#home.

48. “北 핵무력 법제화, 국제사회 고립만 심화시킬 것,” Segye Ilbo, September 12, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20220912517615.

49. “‘절대 핵 포기 않겠다’는 김정은… 고립 자초할 뿐,” Hankook Ilbo, September 13, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022091213540004078.

50. “‘핵무력’ 법제화한 북한, 도발적 조치로 얻을 것 없다,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, September 12, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202209122042005.

51. “합참 “北 탄도미사일 4천500㎞ 비행”…추가도발 대비 추적·감시,” Yonhap News, October 4, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20221004052100504.

52. “北 미사일 4500㎞ 비행, 고도 970㎞, 속도 마하17,” Chosun Ilbo, October 4, 2022, https://biz.chosun.com/policy/politics/2022/10/04/Z65GWMDAZJHUVMWAXPALOVIAI4/; “Statement by NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Ballistic Missile Launch,” The White House, October 3, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/10/03/statement-by-nsc-spokesperson-adrienne-watson-on-the-democratic-peoples-republic-of-koreas-ballistic-missile-launch/.

53. “UN chief condemns DPR Korea missile launch over Japan as ‘reckless act,’” United Nations, October 4, 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/10/1129222.

54. “국제사회 ‘북한 탄도미사일 규탄’ 이어져…’무모한 행동,’” VOA한국어, October 6, 2022, https://www.voakorea.com/a/6777610.html.

55. “尹·기시다 전화통화 “북 도발 강력 규탄,’” Seoul Shinmun, October 6, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20221006500243.; “Secretary Blinken’s Calls with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Park and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi,” U.S. Department of State, October 4, 2022, https://www.state.gov/secretary-blinkens-calls-with-republic-of-korea-foreign-minister-park-and-japanese-foreign-minister-hayashi-2/.; “유엔 안보리, 북한 탄도미사일 대응 회의…미국 “새 결의 추진해야”,” VOA 한국어, October 6, 2022, https://www.voakorea.com/a/6777556.html.

56. “北 ICBM 발사와 핵실험은 정해진 수순, 실질 군사 대비를,” Chosun Ilbo, October 5, 2022, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2022/10/05/USOX54Q37FHUBMYHY64J4HSXRE/.

57. “北, 日 넘어 괌 타격 위협… 무모함 꺾을 확장억제력 보여줄 때,” Donga Ilbo, October 5, 2022, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20221004/115797124/1.

58. “북한 4500㎞ IRBM 발사…국론 분열되면 도발 못 막아,” Joongang Ilbo, October 5, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25106828#home.

59. “北, 수위 높인 IRBM 도발, 7차 핵실험 대응태세 갖춰야,” Segye Ilbo, October 4, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20221004520249.

60. “강 대 강 대결로 치닫는 한반도 정세, 대화도 모색하라,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, October 6, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202210062055015.

61. “KCNA – Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un Guides Military Drills of KPA Units for Operation of Tactical Nukes,” NK News KCNA Watch, October 10, 2022, https://kcnawatch.app/newstream/1665358635-402491168/respected-comrade-kim-jong-un-guides-military-drills-of-kpa-units-for-operation-of-tactical-nukes/.

62. “심상찮은 북한 핵 무력시위…안보 경각심 무너져선 안 된다,” Joongang Ilbo, October 11, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25108191#home.

63. “김정은이 쥐고 흔든 7차례 도발…한·미·일 공조 더 중요해졌다,” Hankook Kyungjae, October 10, 2022, https://www.hankyung.com/opinion/article/2022101072781.

64. “Full Text of Xi Jinping’s Speech at China’s Party Congress,” Bloomberg, October 18, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-18/full-text-of-xi-jinping-s-speech-at-china-20th-party-congress-2022?sref=pfyOJ3jG.

65. “대만 침공 시사한 시진핑, 지구촌 불안 부추긴 꼴,” Joongang Ilbo, October 17, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25109596#home.

66. “시진핑 ‘후계 없는 종신 집권’… 세계의 분열과 불안 커진다,” Donga Ilbo, October 17, 2022, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20221016/115979762/1.

67. “종신집권 향해가는 시진핑, 中 거친 패권주의를 경계한다 [사설],” Maeil Kyungjae, October 17, 2022, https://www.mk.co.kr/opinion/editorial/view/2022/10/914610/.

68. “‘중국몽’ 시진핑 3기, 가치동맹 강화가 국익·안보 지키는 길,” Seoul Kyungjae, October 17, 2022, https://www.sedaily.com/NewsView/26CDUE2655.

69. “한·일 정상의 안보협력 공감, 관계 개선으로 이어져야,” Joongang Ilbo, October 7, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25107445#home.

70. “尹·기시다 통화, 북핵 공조 강화·지소미아 복원 전기 돼야,” Segye Ilbo, October 6, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20221006519559.

71. “높아지는 북핵 위기, 한미일 삼각동맹 굳건히 해야,” Seoul Shinmun, October 6, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20221007027011.

72. “북핵·미사일 위협 대응하는 한·일 안보협력 강화해야,” Kukmin Ilbo, October 7, 2022, https://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view.asp?arcid=0924267199.

73. “한반도 대치, 한미일 공조 일변도로 출구 찾을 수 있나,” Hankyoreh, October 6, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1061720.html.

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