Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoon Byeong-se said on March 30 that the current diplomatic situation Korea is facing is a kind of blessing rather than a dilemma. His remarks were to refute criticism that Korea has lost its way between the United States and China concerning the terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) and Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) issues.
“We do not have to bother ourselves about a simplistic approach to the highly-complicated diplomatic issues, and what we have to do is walk our own way regardless of irresponsible criticism,” he added at the meeting of the heads of diplomatic missions, continuing, “The criticism that we lost our way is nothing but a defeatist and self-deprecating point of view.”
He spent much of his opening address on praising the achievements of the diplomats. “The Korean government decided to accede to the AIIB at the most opportune time to maximize the national interests, and Michael Green, Japan Chair and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, compared us to a shrimp that tamed the whales of the U.S. and China,” he mentioned, adding, “In addition, we held a foreign ministers’ meeting of Korea, Japan and China for the first time in three years to recover trilateral cooperation from its coma.”
Some experts pointed out that his compliments were to encourage the diplomats to follow their conviction in doing their jobs. “Do not be swayed in any case if you think you are making the right decision for the national interest,” he also mentioned. However, the others said he made inappropriate remarks, without humbly accepting the criticism from the outside, as the head of the foreign affairs ministry.