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Spokesperson's Press Briefing (Nov. 28, 2013)

  • Date : 2013-11-28 18:00:00
  • Hit : 1195

Press Briefing
Spokesperson and Deputy Minister for Public Relations Cho Tai-young
Nov. 28, 2013 14:30 KST

Good afternoon.

It is very cold today. We always appreciate your hard work. Let me start today’s briefing.

Today, I have three announcements to make. Press releases on the issues I will address will be issued right after this briefing.

First, the Foreign Ministry will expand the “system of using electronic signature for passport application” to 43 passport service agencies in provincial governments starting from December 1.

In addition, 24 overseas diplomatic missions will implement the “system of using electronic signature for passport application” and the “live face capture system” that allows photos to be taken on the spot at the time of application.

The Foreign Ministry will gradually expand the “system of using electronic signature for passport application” to all passport service agencies at home and abroad until 2016.

The “live face capture system” will be implemented at all overseas diplomatic missions until 2016.

Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry made the electronic revenue stamp available at all passport agencies from June 1. The Ministry will continue to work to improve the convenience of passport applicants.

I have mentioned three systems. To give you further details, the systems were introduced to help people apply for a passport more easily.

To that end, the Foreign Ministry is expanding the paperless passport application system to more passport agencies. The system will improve the convenience of the public in three areas, application form, photo and revenue stamp. Previously, passport applicants purchased a revenue stamp and pasted it on an application form, but now, applicants don’t need to buy the revenue stamp and the electronic revenue stamp can replace it.

The paperless passport application means people can apply for a passport online without filling out a paper form. The number of items that should be filled out was also reduced, because personal information on an ID card is entered automatically when the card is submitted. Applicants only need to fill out the rest and sign electronically.

In case of photo, applicants don’t need to bring a photo. Their photos are taken on the spot at the time of application and attached to their application form. However, this service is now available only at overseas diplomatic missions. It is not available at domestic passport agencies. The Foreign Ministry is working to expand the service to all overseas missions.

Moving on to the second topic, the 3rd Lee Tae-seok Award ceremony will take place at the Foreign Ministry on November 29 with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in attendance.

This year’s Lee Tae-seok Award will be presented to a dentist-turned-nun Park Jeong-sook, who established a school and other facilities for the poor and challenged children and provided free dental service in Bangladesh.

As you know, the Lee Tae-seok Award is one of the Foreign Minister’s Awards established in 2011 in honor of the sacrifice and the spirit of devotion of the late Father Lee Tae-seok. He passed away in January 2010 while carrying out volunteer work in Tonj, South Sudan.

The first and the second Lee Tae-seok Awards went to medical doctor Lee Jae-hoon and nurse Baek Young-shim for their medical services in Madagascar and Malawi, respectively.

Last, Romanian violinist Alexandru Tomescu, who was appointed as the ROK’s Goodwill Ambassador for Public Diplomacy in October, 2012, will visit the ROK from December 2 to 7.

The Foreign Ministry has appointed famous foreign celebrities as Goodwill Ambassadors for Public Diplomacy and encouraged their activities in order to draw more attention to the ROK and promote a positive image of the country.

During his visit to the ROK, Goodwill Ambassador Tomescu will engage in various activities, including a joint performance with KBS Symphony Orchestra, a concert hosted by the Romanian Embassy in the ROK to celebrate Romania’s National Day, and a master class lesson for students of Korea National University of Arts.

Goodwill Ambassador Tomescu is very much interested in Korea and fluent in Korean. He even won the Korean speech competition held in Romania in 2007.

There will be an interview with the Goodwill Ambassador at the Foreign Ministry at 5:30 p.m. on December 6. Please submit an application to the Spokesperson’s Office if you want to interview him.

This is all for my opening statement.


Q: I understand that the Air Defense Identification Zone announced by China also includes the airspace over Ieodo and this has caused controversy. However, the ROK government is saying that it will not have much impact. I know that some are arguing that the ROK needs to modify its ADIZ to include the airspace over Ieodo. What do you make of that?

A: On the first part, there seems to be misunderstanding. Enough explanation might not have been provided, but the ROK government made it clear that China’s announcement of the ADIZ cannot affect the ROK’s jurisdiction over Ieodo in any way.

On the second part, as I said here yesterday, the ROK government will review the issue, taking into account ways to maximize the ROK’s national interests.

Taking this opportunity, in regard to a question I was asked yesterday, let me add this.

I was asked yesterday what Ieodo’s status is under international law, and in answer to the question, I gave you related facts. After this, I saw a lot of reaction.

What I told you yesterday were, as I said a moment ago, simple facts about the legal status of Ieodo. They were not about our attitude, posture and approach toward the ROK’s research station on Ieodo.

I want to tell you once again that you don’t need to over-interpret what I told you. Let me also repeat that the ROK government will review whether to expand its ADIZ to include the airspace over Ieodo, while giving consideration to ways to maximize the ROK’s national interests.

Q: I have one more question. You said that the ROK government will review whether to expand its ADIZ to include the airspace over Ieodo. Does it mean that there are chances that the government will expand its ADIZ?

A: I think reviewing means considering all possibilities.

Q: It could be a related question. In his lecture at the Defense Forum yesterday, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said that the ROK-US alliance is currently at their highest point and the ROK and China are working to make substantive progress in their strategic partnership. However, the reality seems to be a little bit different.

The US and Japan are strengthening their alliance, as demonstrated in the US’s support for Japan’s right to collective self-defense. In addition, China’s latest announcement of the ADIZ showed elements of potential conflicts underlying the ROK-China relations. Some are saying that the Park Geun-hye government’s “balanced diplomacy” is being put to the test amid the latest developments. I’d like to know where the ROK government is heading in terms of its strategy and what measures it is considering.

A: I understand that Foreign Minister Yun already gave an answer to such question at the National Assembly today. The ROK-US alliance has never been stronger than it is today. Not only the ROK but also the US makes such assessment. On the ROK-China relations, as seen in President Park’s visit to China in June, the two countries are maintaining a very good relationship.

Instead of assessing the overall situation with just a single issue, it would be better to look at the whole picture. Based on the solid ROK-US alliance, the ROK government will continue to make efforts, including those on relations with neighboring countries, to ensure stability and development in the region.

We cannot agree with the opinion that the ROK government’s balanced diplomacy caused the problems it is facing. I have also seen some reports claiming that the US-Japan alliance is doing fine, but the ROK-US alliance is not.

To my knowledge, Foreign Minister Yun gave an answer to that at the National Assembly today, but let me say this again. The two cannot be compared and they are not in a zero-sum relationship where the gain of one side is offset by the loss of another side. The ROK-US alliance has no problem and I think it doesn’t even need to be compared to the US-Japan alliance.

Q: There have been many reports regarding the Japanese news reports. In addition to its latest article, the Shukan Bunshun again carried an article denigrating President Park Geun-hye, sparking some controversy. Though it is a private media, does the Foreign Ministry hold any position or plan to announce any position on that?

In addition, there have been reports on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ alleged spying activities in the ROK, though the Japanese government is denying the allegations. I’d like to know if the ROK government was aware of the issue in advance or if it will request the Japanese government or related agencies to verify the reports.

A: On your first question on the Shukan Bunshun, we will not make a response every time the weekly carries such extremely senseless article. Such report also runs counter to the sound manner of Japanese people.

On your second question, the ROK will take necessary measures after verifying the reports.

Q: Some media reported that the ROK’s ADIZ does not include the airspace over Hongdo. It was found in 2003 that the ROK’s ADIZ does not include the airspace over Hongdo but Japan’s ADIZ does. Since then, what measures has the Foreign Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of National Defense, taken toward Japan? Please tell us the ROK government’s position on this.

A: First, please ask the Ministry of National Defense to verify the report first. I will also check what measures the Foreign Ministry has taken regarding the issue.

Q: As far as I know, Evan Medeiros, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council, visited the ROK and met with officials from the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun. On the ADIZ, what position did the US side deliver and what did the two sides discuss? Also, please tell us what was discussed regarding the right to collective self-defense.

A: Evan Medeiros, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council, visited the ROK to prepare for US Vice President Biden’s visit to the ROK next week. To my knowledge, the Senior Director met with First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun and officials from Cheong Wa Dae yesterday, November 27, and consult on preparations for the US Vice President’s visit to the ROK.

On China’s ADIZ, as I said a moment ago, the ROK government will handle the issue, comprehensively taking into account the ROK’s national interests. The government is holding consultations with China and other concerned countries.

Let me stress that the main purpose of the Senior Director’s visit was to prepare for Vice President Biden’s upcoming visit to the ROK.

Q: In his lecture at the Defense Forum yesterday, Minister Yun Byung-se said the ROK also needs to make efforts, while calling for efforts by the Japanese side. What efforts do you think the ROK needs to make?

A: To my knowledge, in the lecture, Minister Yun used the expression “one who has tied a knot must untie it.” The Minister said that the Japanese side should make more efforts, as one who has tied a knot must untie it.

Though I don’t remember exactly what expression the Minister used, he made some remarks which meant that Japan is an important neighbor for the ROK and the ROK is also willing to work to improve bilateral relations. I think the remarks can be an answer to your question.

Thank you.

*unofficial translation