Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South Korea

Newsline: Japan and South Korea hail diplomatic thaw

The leaders of Japan and South Korea promised to turn the page on years of animosity at a meeting on Thursday, putting aside their difficult, shared history and saying they needed to work more closely to counter the region’s security challenges. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-koreas-yoon-seeks-friend-tokyo-amid-regional-tensions-2023-03-15/) The comments from South Korea’s Yoon Suk Yeol and Japan’s Fumio Kishida at a joint meeting in Tokyo highlight how the two U.S. allies have been pushed closer together by North Korea’s frequent missile launches, as well as growing concern about China’s more muscular role on the international stage. Yoon’s visit to Japan on Thursday was the first for a South Korean president in 12 years. The urgency of the regional security situation – and the threat posed by North Korea – were underscored in the hours before Yoon’s arrival, when the North fired a long-range ballistic missile that landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The two countries also agreed to drop an almost four-year-old trade dispute on the high-tech materials used for chips, an issue that has dogged their relationship even as the political importance of semiconductors, and securing their supply, has increased.

Newsline: China to resume issuing short-term visas for South Koreans starting Feb 18

China plans to resume issuing short-term visas for travellers from South Korea on Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Seoul said on Wednesday, after South Korea lifted similar visa curbs last week citing an improved COVID situation in its neighbour. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-resume-issuing-short-term-visas-south-koreans-starting-feb-18-2023-02-15/) China halted issuing short-term visas to South Koreans last month, a retaliatory move after South Korea had imposed a number of COVID restrictions on travellers from China following Beijing’s abrupt ending of its “zero-COVID” policy. Seoul had planned to impose visa curbs until end-February but restarted issuing visas last week, saying the number of infections among Chinese arrivals had dropped significantly.

Newsline: South Korean embassy in Beijing warns of PCR tests upon arrival

China plans to require all passengers on direct flights from South Korea to undergo a PCR test upon arrival, starting from Feb. 1, the South Korean embassy in Beijing said. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said, “It is regrettable that individual countries persist on implementing discriminatory entry restrictions against China, to which China is firmly opposed and has reason to take reciprocal measures against.” (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/skorea-considers-early-easing-covid-visa-curbs-travellers-china-yonhap-2023-01-31/) She was responding to a query about China mandating COVID test for inbound travellers from South Korea. South Korea’s foreign ministry said its quarantine measures were based on scientific grounds for people’s protection. “There should never be any restrictions based on factors other than quarantine, and we are also communicating with the Chinese side as necessary,” the ministry added in the transcript of a news briefing. The curbs have hit air traffic links, one airline official said.

Newsline: South Korea, Iran summon each other’s ambassadors

Iran and South Korea summoned each other’s envoys in a deepening spat over comments by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol that described the Islamic republic as the enemy of the United Arab Emirates. Yoon, speaking to South Korean troops stationed in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, said South Korea and the UAE are under “very similar” circumstances, each facing North Korea and Iran as “the enemy, biggest threat.” Yoon’s office has said his comment was intended as words of encouragement for South Korean soldiers while the foreign ministry said on Thursday it had repeatedly offered explanations to Tehran. Unappeased, Tehran summoned South Korean ambassador Yun Kang-hyeon on Wednesday, warning that bilateral ties could be reviewed if the issue was not resolved, according to a report from Iran’s official IRNA news agency. Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal affairs, Reza Najafi, told Yun that Iran has “deep-rooted and friendly relations” with most neighbours. He described Yoon’s comment as “interfering”, adding that Yoon was “undermining peace and stability in the region,” the report said. Hours later on Thursday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said its vice minister Cho Hyun-dong had called in Iran’s ambassador in Seoul, Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, to complain about Najafi’s remarks. The ministry said Najafi had made a “completely groundless” claim that Yoon had hinted at developing a nuclear weapon. (https://neuters.de/world/south-korea-envoy-iran-summoned-over-yoons-enemy-remarks-media-2023-01-19/) Relations between Seoul and Tehran had already been testy over frozen Iranian funds in South Korea and suspected arms dealings between Iran and North Korea.

Newsline: South Korean embassy says two citizens on passenger list of jet that crashed in Nepal

Two Koreans seem to have been aboard a passenger aircraft that crashed in a resort town in Nepal, Seoul’s embassy in the Himalayan country said Sunday. “Two South Koreans are on the list of passengers. We are trying to confirm whether they were actually on board and their identities,” an embassy official said. (https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2023/01/281_343631.html) In Seoul, the foreign ministry said local embassy officials have been dispatched to the site to handle relevant affairs. All 72 passengers and crew members were killed in the crash of the plane near Pokhara International Airport, according to a news report.

Newsline: South Korean top diplomat calls China’s visa suspension ‘deeply regrettable’

China’s recent decision to suspend the issue of short-term visas in South Korea was “deeply regrettable”, the South’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Wednesday. “It’s deeply regrettable China took such a countermeasure by entirely suspending issuance of short-term visas,” Park told a news briefing, adding that South Korea still issues visas to Chinese visitors for urgent business or humanitarian purposes. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-calls-chinas-visa-suspension-deeply-regrettable-2023-01-11/) Tuesday’s suspension by the Chinese embassy in South Korea was China’s first retaliatory move against countries imposing COVID-19 curbs on its travellers. Last week, South Korea ordered a PCR test for travellers arriving from China, joining a growing list of nations adopting border curbs amid concern over infections, after China abruptly ended its stringent “zero-COVID” policy.

Newsline: Chinese embassy in Seoul suspends visas for South Koreans

The Chinese embassy in South Korea has suspended issuing short-term visas for South Korean visitors, it said on Tuesday, the first retaliatory move against nations imposing COVID-19 curbs on travellers from China. The embassy will adjust the policy subject to the lifting of South Korea’s “discriminatory entry restrictions” against China, it said on its official WeChat account. Beijing retaliated on Tuesday against South Korea’s COVID-19 curbs on travellers from China, while state media further downplayed the severity of the outbreak in the last major economy to reopen its borders after three years of isolation. Although China imposes similar testing requirements for all arrivals, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday the entry curbs for Chinese travellers were “discriminatory.” “We will take reciprocal measures,” Wang said, without elaborating. (https://neuters.de/world/china/covid-wave-past-its-peak-many-parts-china-state-media-2023-01-10/) Kyodo news agency, quoting multiple travel industry sources, said China has told travel agencies that it has stopped issuing new visas in Japan. An AFP journalist tweeted that the Chinese embassy in Japan released a statement confirming the curbs on Tuesday but removed it from its website within minutes.

Newsline: South Korea’s foreign ministry lashes out at Japan’s island claim

South Korea issued a strong protest against Japan’s territorial claim over disputed islands made in a national security strategy released on Friday while cautiously responding to Tokyo’s plans for an unprecedented military buildup. South Korea’s foreign ministry on Friday demanded an immediate removal of the territorial claims from Japan’s national strategy documents, saying in a statement that the move did nothing to help “building a future-oriented relationship” between the two countries. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-protests-japans-island-claim-national-security-strategy-2022-12-16/) The foreign ministry later said it summoned a senior diplomat from Japan’s embassy in Seoul to lodge the protest. The islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan are controlled by Seoul with a small contingent of coast guards. In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said it hoped the implementation of Japan’s new security policy will be transparent and contribute to regional peace and stability while continuing to uphold the spirit of is pacifist constitution.

Newsline: U.S. embassy says two citizens killed in Seoul’s stampede

Two U.S. citizens were among those killed, the U.S. embassy told CNN in a statement Sunday. “Our staff in Seoul and colleagues in the United States are working tirelessly to provide consular assistance to the victims of last night’s incident and their families,” an embassy statement read. “The U.S. Embassy in Seoul is working closely with local authorities and other partner organizations to assist U.S. citizens affected. We offer our sincerest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and continue to assist the injured. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional details at this time.” (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/10/30/At-least-153-killed-133-injured-in-Halloween-stampede-in-Seoul/4081667140137/) The number of foreigners killed came to 20, according to the official tally from fire authorities. They are four each from China and Iran; three from Russia; and one each from the United States, France, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Norway, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Austria, officials said. At least 153 people have been killed and 133 others injured in a deadly stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district as huge crowds of partygoers, many in their 20s, converged in the entertainment district for late-night Halloween celebrations.

Newsline: U.S. Diplomat to Discuss North Korea’s Missile Launches With Japan, South Korean Counterparts

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will discuss North Korea’s recent missile launches, along with other issues of regional security including China and Taiwan, at meetings with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo next week, a senior State Department official said. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-10-20/u-s-diplomat-sherman-to-discuss-n-korea-missile-launches-with-japan-s-korean-counterparts-official) “We will discuss a range of issues, including the DPRK’s numerous ballistic missile launches this year, the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and Russia’s unprovoked and devastating war against Ukraine,” the official said while briefing reporters on the talks from Oct. 24-26, adding the officials will also discuss tensions over Taiwan.