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S. Korea reviews 'propriety' of military intel-sharing pact with Japan: ministry

South Korea is reviewing whether it is right to continue exchanging military intelligence with Japan under a bilateral information-sharing pact, the defense ministry said Monday, amid speculation Seoul could rescind the agreement over a trade and diplomatic row with Tokyo.

Officials in Seoul have hinted at the possibility of scrapping the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in response to a series of retaliatory measures Japan has taken over a row surrounding wartime forced labor.

"The government is reviewing whether it is right to continue exchanging sensitive military information with a country that raises issues of the lack of trust with us and security-related problems," defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told a regular briefing. 

Defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo (Yonhap)
Defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo (Yonhap)

The defense ministry had said it sees no major problems with the pact's renewal.

"Now, circumstances, including the relations with Japan, have changed, and we will review relevant factors in a comprehensive manner to make a decision that best serves our national interest," a ministry official noted.

On Friday, Japan decided to remove South Korea from its so-called whitelist of countries given preferential treatment in importing Japanese dual-use products that can be diverted for military use. The retaliatory move came after its July 4 imposition of tighter restrictions on experts to Seoul of three key chemicals used for semiconductor and display production.

The 2016 information-sharing agreement, aimed at coping better with threats from North Korea, has been automatically renewed each year in Aug. It will expire in Nov., however, if either party notifies the other of its intention to scrap it 90 days in advance.

This year's notification deadline is Aug. 24. (Yonhap)