Korea has been in the Australian media maybe more than ever this year. And maybe for all the wrong reasons.
The release of a new song by PSY is received some attention, considering the success of his previous Gangnam Style. Was he a one-hit wonder? What would he comment on in Gentleman? Certainly a point of interest, but not the biggest issue that we ought to be focusing on between Australia and Korea in our relationship.
The backdrop to this year has been the rising tensions with North Korea since the early missile testing in January, and subsequent threats of provocation to bomb the United States. If it wasn’t for the Boston Bombers, maybe Kim Jong-un might still be front page on the newspapers.
But it was an extraordinary development last week which pointed to a new dimension unfolding in the relationship Australia has with Korea. With our unfinished negotiations to the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea which commenced in 2009, last week the front page of the Australian national newspapers reported two cases of espionage unveiled from two South Korean spies from their National Intelligence Service.
This is a potentially damaging development in the relationship between our two countries. Incidents of espionage from Asian countries is nothing new, but typically we have come to expect this from places like China. With so much shared potential between our two countries, what ought we to make of these reports of Korean spies?
It is unfortunate that the Australian media remains blind to much of the newsworthy stories from Korea, now extending a focus beyond PSY and North Korea to the antics of some clumsy operatives careless in their intelligence gathering. Let’s hope this episode is short-lived, and we can only hope that the languishing FTA negotiations are resolved before the end of this year.