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Spy agency chief proposes postponement of ROK-U.S. military drills

Spy agency chief proposes postponement of ROK-U.S. military drills

Posted August. 04, 2021 07:21,   

Updated August. 04, 2021 07:21


National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Park Jie-won said on Tuesday that the ROK-U.S. joint military drills scheduled for the second week of this month should be postponed, two days after Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned against the military drills saying there will be no improvement of inter-Korean relations if Seoul proceeds with the planned joint military exercise. This is a rare move made by the head of the spy agency following proposals by the Ministry of Unification and some members of the ruling party to postpone the joint military drills. In response, the opposition party protested strongly, saying the NIS has been degraded to an agency taking orders from Kim Yo Jong.

Director Park said during a parliamentary Intelligence Committee (IC) meeting on Tuesday that even though he understands the importance of ROK-U.S. joint military exercises, it is also necessary to consider responding flexibly to the situation in order to maintain momentum for dialogue and realize the big picture vision of denuclearization, according to Rep. Kim Byung-ki of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. A committee member told the Dong-A Ilbo on the phone that Director Park directly mentioned the postponement of the joint military drills as a flexible response to the situation, adding North Korea could seek another provocation if the planned drills are not postponed.

Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), who is also a member of the IC, said the NIS, which is responsible for operations against North Korea and national security, has degraded to an agency taking orders from Kim Yo Jong, and officially demanded that the NIS withdraw its position on ROK-U.S. joint military drills and offer an apology to the public. PPP lawmakers, who are members of the National Defense Committee, also said in a statement that canceling a planned drill just because the younger sister of the enemy’s leader said so is the same as declaring surrender, calling for the government to proceed with the planned drills.

Lee Nak-yon, presidential contender from the ruling party, supported the postponement of the planned drills, saying he hopes that a rational decision will be made in consideration of various factors, including the spread of COVID-19 and the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines.

Kyung-Suk Kang coolup@donga.com · Oh-Hyuk Kwon hyuk@donga.com