A local court ordered the government Tuesday to disclose the whole process of negotiations on a botched military information-sharing deal between South Korea and Japan.
In 2012, the two nations initialed a pact on sharing military intelligence to spur the exchange of information on North Korea. But Seoul suspended its signing due to strong opposition from civic groups, which claimed the deal was inked hastily and behind the scenes.
In September 2013, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy sued the foreign ministry over its refusal to disclose all related information on the negotiations.
In a ruling statement, the Seoul Administrative Court said that the government should revoke its decision not to unveil related minutes and information to the public.
"There is a need to disclose the bargaining process and its content to determine whether the United States pressured Seoul to sign the deal, and dissipate suspicions of backroom negotiations or the Cabinet's hasty approval," the court said.
Civic groups have raised suspicions that South Korea might have been pressured by the U.S. to pursue such a pact with Japan to better counter North Korea's nuclear and missile test threats.
If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, Seoul's foreign ministry should unveil all internal reports, minutes and related information that were exchanged with Japan's foreign and defense ministries in seeking the intelligence-sharing pact.
The bilateral military intelligence pact was reached between Seoul and Washington, and between Tokyo and Washington, but not between Seoul and Tokyo.
Many South Koreans still harbor resentment toward Japan for its brutal rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. (Yonhap)