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Defense minister dismisses N. Korea’s taunts, highlights strong defense posture

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said it was not worth listening to North Korea’s criticism of South Korea’s joint military exercises with the United States, and vowed that defense posture would remain strong.

At a parliamentary defense committee meeting, Jeong also spoke of the usefulness of the controversial military intel-sharing agreement with Japan.

National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Yonhap)
National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Yonhap)

“(The North) is using vulgar words (to criticize us), but I do not feel it is worth responding to its words one by one,” Jeong said during the National Defense Committee meeting at the National Assembly.

Via Foreign Ministry statements, Pyongyang has slammed Seoul for conducting combined military exercises with the United States, directly criticizing the defense minister and the South Korean president.

“The oldest brother does not fire back and clash when the youngest acts out and whines,” Jeong said, referring to South Korea as the oldest brother and the North as the youngest.

Jeong added that regardless of what North Korea says, the South’s military defense posture would not weaken.

The North has long complained that the South’s annual joint military exercises with the United States amount to conducting wargames against the regime.

Responding to questions from opposition lawmakers, Jeong said the General Security of Military Information Agreement forged with Japan has been useful.

The agreement, which automatically renews every year, has been raised as an issue, as relations between South Korea and Japan have reached the lowest level.

Abolishing GSOMIA has been mentioned as an option for the South Korean government to hit back at Japan, which imposed trade restrictions on the South.

“The government is carefully and thoroughly reviewing the deal, and the decision is to be announced soon,” Jeong said.

As opinions are sharply divided here over the renewal of the agreement, the government appears to be mulling options until the last minute, with the deadline for renewal slated for Saturday.

“We are reviewing the renewal of the agreement carefully because it is useful. If it is not, we can just abolish the deal,” Jeong added, when an opposition lawmaker questioned whether GSOMIA has been effective.

By Jo He-rim (