Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel held a joint press conference on October 2 in Seoul and announced that the two countries will keep shoring up their cooperation in the new defense fields of cyber security and aerospace security.
“We have signed an agreement for the establishment of a working-level council covering cyber security policy,” the former said, adding, “I expect that the agreement will make an institutional foundation for mutual collaboration in the field of cyber security.” The latter continued, “We have been engaged in very productive discussions for months, and we will work together with each other down the road against cyber threats while sharing our information, knowledge, and policy.”
The new agreement is welcome news for the Korean government, which encountered two large-scale cyber terrorism attacks on March 20 and June 25 in 2013 alone. Still, some experts are saying that Washington is using the tension among Seoul, Pyongyang, and Tokyo to its advantage by signing a similar agreement with the Japanese government.
In fact, the Secretary of Defense flew to Tokyo the very next day, October 3, to agree on the regular opening of vice minister-level cyber security conferences between the US and Japan. Also, they are planning to launch joint military drills against cyber attacks, and Japan is going to send its officers to the US for training purposes. The cooperation between the US and Japan is considered to be much closer than that of Seoul and Washington.
Such a move by the United States is regarded as an attempt to contain North Korea and China in cyber space rather than to set up a three-way cooperation scheme with South Korea and Japan, the bilateral relations of which are rapidly deteriorating these days.