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Half of Koreans support GSOMIA decision: survey

About half of the Korean public approve of the government’s decision to end the military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a survey showed Monday.

On Thursday, Cheong Wa Dae announced that the General Security of Military Information Agreement or GSOMIA with Japan would not be renewed, citing Japan’s trade-curbing measures. The agreement will remain valid until Nov. 22. 

President Moon Jae-in and senior officials discuss the GSOMIA issue on Thursday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in and senior officials discuss the GSOMIA issue on Thursday. Yonhap

In the survey, conducted by local pollster Realmeter, 54.9 percent of the respondents said they agree with the decision.

Of the remainder, 38.4 percent said they disagree with the decision, while 6.7 percent declined to answer.

By political inclination, 85.7 percent of those identifying as progressive supported the decision, while only 34.4 percent of conservative respondents agreed.

Those identifying as moderates were more evenly divided, with 49.5 percent and 47.8 percent respectively agreeing and disagreeing with Seoul’s decision.

In comparison, views were more evenly divided in a Realmeter survey conducted before Japan’s decision to remove South Korea from its whitelist of countries receiving preferential trade treatment.

In the earlier survey, 47 percent said that GSOMIA should be terminated while 41.6 percent opposed the idea.

Japan removed Korea from the list on Aug. 2. Although Tokyo officials have cited various reasons, including claims that Seoul was not monitoring the flow of materials into North Korea, the move has been widely interpreted as retaliation for the Korean Supreme Court’s ruling siding with victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The US, meanwhile, continues to express concerns regarding Seoul’s decision.

“We are deeply disappointed and concerned that the ROK‘s government terminated the General Security of Military Information Agreement #GSOMIA,” Morgan Ortagus, US Department of State spokeswoman, tweeted Sunday.

“This will make defending #Korea more complicated and increase risk to US forces,” she added.

Ortagus’ tweet follows US President Donald Trump’s remark Friday that he would see “what happens” regarding Korea’s decision to pull out of GSOMIA.

US officials earlier issued statements expressing concerns. On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the US government was “disappointed to see the decision” and urged Seoul and Tokyo to continue dialogue.

The Department of Defense also released a statement echoing Pompeo, saying the department expresses “strong concern and disappointment.”

By Choi He-suk (