Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Monday that South Korea should offer sincere explanations to China about its decision to host the US THAAD missile defense system that Beijing sees as a threat to its national security.
Lee issued the instruction during a meeting with senior aides, saying China has pent-up disappointment with Seoul as the previous administration of former President Park Geun-hye decided to host THAAD, just 10 days after it said it wouldn't do so.
Beijing sees the decision as a violation of trust and faith from the context of human relations and morality, he said.
"Even though this happened during the previous administration, this is putting a big painful burden on us," Lee said. "We should talk to them with trust and faith, and offer explanations even if they don't understand our position."
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (Yonhap)
Referring to the North's latest nuclear test, Lee said that the situation is "very grave."
Lee said that China and Russia called for an approach different from that of the United States and Japan, adding that South Korea should not give up on efforts to explain its position to Beijing and Moscow.
South Korea decided last year to host a THAAD battery to boost defenses against North Korea.
China, which has long expressed concern that THAAD's radar can be used to spy on the country, took a number of economic retaliatory measures against the South as Seoul refused to give in to Chinese pressure to scrap the decision to host the system.
The new government of President Moon Jae-in had considered whether to stick to the decision to deploy THAAD, but it ultimately decided to keep the agreement as the North ratcheted up its nuclear and missile provocations. (Yonhap)