Park's security aide bungles key issues

2013-10-28 : 18:24

By Kim Tae-gyu

Kim Chang-soo, chief of Cheong Wa Dae National Security Office

What’s wrong with Kim Chang-soo, the top security officer for President Park Geun-hye?

The former defense minister acts sheepishly, contrary to his reputation as a strong-willed soldier, and obviously fails to stand up for the national interest as forcefully as the occasion calls for.

In a meeting with his counterpart Susan Rice in Washington last week, Cheong Wa Dae National Security Office chief Kim virtually acknowledged Japan’s bid to secure the right to send its forces beyond its territory.

According to Cheong Wa Dae officials, Kim made clear the country’s opposition to Japan’s military dispatch to the Korean Peninsula based on the right to exercise collective self-defense.

“Collective self-defense is a right guaranteed under the United Nations Charter. But if Japan’s defense ties with the U.S. are revised to influence Korea’s sovereign right, our approval is necessary. We made that clear to the U.S.,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

Branding the remark as a practical endorsement on Japan’s collective self-defense right, experts pointed out that the Park Geun-hye administration cannot effectively deal with Tokyo’s attempt to increase its military clout in the Northeast Asian region.

“Korea is dealing with the case in an inappropriate manner that will generate a backlash as the country failed to safeguard its interests diplomatically,” said Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Institute of Peace and Unification Studies affiliated with Seoul National University.

Under the pacifist Constitution that was drawn up in the late 1940s by the U.S. after World War II, Japan was prohibited from dispatching its troops to any other countries for any reason.

But ultra-rightist Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to change this via a revision of the Constitution or its interpretation, reviving bitter memories of victims of imperialist Japan such as Korea and China.

Analysts say Kim is also not working properly to deal with the U.S. National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping on up to 35 world leaders.

Citing a confidential document provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the British daily The Guardian reported that mobile phones of global leaders had been tapped.

It did not specify whether Korea was included in the list.

The Korean government purportedly requested a reply from the U.S. on whether the country was one of the 35 countries whose leaders were allegedly monitored by the U.S. intelligence service.

But political watchers said that Korea was too late in responding to the news as the suspicions surfaced some time ago.

“The biggest problem is that Korea depends too much on the U.S. We should think about our own self interest,” Chang said. 


김장수 국가안보실장 미국 발언 논란

김장수 청와대 국가안보실장이 지난 23~26일 미국 방문을 통해 수전 라이스 국가안보보좌관과 존 케리 국무장관, 척 헤이글 국방장관 등에게 일본의 집단 자위권을 사실상 인정한 발언을 했다는 논란이 일고 있다.

정부 고위 관계자는 워싱턴 특파원 간담회에서 “집단적 자위권은 유엔 헌장에 나와 있는 보통 국가의 권리 중 하나이지만 이것이 확대 해석돼 한반도와 한국 주권과 관련된다면 우리의 동의가 반드시 필요하다”며 “미/일 방위협력지침 개정에서 이에 대한 우리의 입장을 반영할 것을 요구했다”고 밝혔다.

이는 그 동안 정부가 견지해 온 방향과 크게 다르진 않지만 정부가 공식적인 입장 표명을 통해 집단적 자위권의 행사 자체를 용인키로 했다는 점에서 주의를 끌고 있다.

미국이 중국의 군사력을 견제하기 위해 추진하는 집단적 자위권 행사를 지지하는 상황에서 대북 공조 체제를 위해 미국과 일본의 협조를 얻어야 하는 정부가 이에 반대하는 것이 쉽지 않다는 상황논리가 깔려있다.

하지만 최근 미국 국가안보국의 도청의혹에 대한 미적지근한 대응에서 보듯이 우리 정부가 미국의 눈치를 너무 살핀다는 비판도 제기되고 있다. 동북아 정세가 바뀌고 있지만 자칫 우리 정부는 전통적인 동맹관계에만 치우쳐 큰 그림을 놓칠 수도 있다는 걱정이다.