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Will South Korea Join the Enemy? Plans to Engage With China and Russia

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News

As President Yoon Suk Yeol enters his third year in office, he addresses the perceived limitations of his foreign and security policies, particularly in managing relations with China and Russia. Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae Yul is expected to visit China for the first time in six years as Foreign Minister. Unlike the boycott by allies such as the U.S. and Japan, our ambassador to Russia attended Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 8th, Minister Cho is expected to visit China soon at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. There is speculation that he might also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

There is also a high likelihood that a trilateral summit between South Korea, China, and Japan will be held in Seoul on the 27th and 28th of this month. If realized, it would be the first such meeting since December 2019. Experts have praised the Yoon Suk Yeol administration for strengthening the Korea-U.S.-Japan alliance and restoring the solidarity of free democratic values over the past two years but have pointed out the neglect of relations with China as a regrettable aspect.

The government is also making efforts to manage relations with Russia. Ambassador to Russia, Lee Do Hoon, attended Putin’s inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin on the 7th. The Kremlin had previously announced that it would invite all foreign diplomats stationed in Russia, including those from countries hostile to Putin’s inauguration. Ambassadors from ally countries like the USA and Japan boycotted the event.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the relationship between Russia and South Korea has been at its worst since diplomatic ties were established in 1990, including summoning ambassadors over issues like the Ukraine war and North Korea. Recently, Russia opposed the extension of the activities of the UN Security Council’s North Korea sanctions expert panel, leading to the end of the panel’s activities. A South Korean missionary was arrested by Russian authorities in Vladivostok last January on charges of spying and is currently detained in Moscow.

Amid these developments, the attendance of the South Korean ambassador at President Putin’s inauguration is seen as a reflection of the need to manage the relationship with Russia. President Putin secured a fifth term in the elections held last March with overwhelming support. His new term will last until 2030.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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