The Korea Herald


Outgoing FM says S. Korea-Japan ties 'completely normalized' thanks to Yoon

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 10, 2024 - 10:02

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Outgoing Foreign Minister Park Jin enters the ministry to speak to reporters on Jan. 10, 2024, his last day at the office. (Yonhap) Outgoing Foreign Minister Park Jin enters the ministry to speak to reporters on Jan. 10, 2024, his last day at the office. (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Park Jin left office Wednesday after nearly two years of juggling a set of diplomatic tasks, ranging from addressing escalating North Korean provocations to ramping up the alliance with the United States and improving ties with its neighboring countries.

At his farewell ceremony, Park touched on the ministry's achievements during his term, saying South Korea has realized the "complete normalization" of its ties with Japan owing to the "big decision" of President Yoon Suk Yeol.

The Yoon administration has sought to mend ties strained by historical disputes stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The outgoing minister also said the US extended deterrence against the North's nuclear threat has been "dramatically strengthened" with the launch of the Nuclear Consultative Group as agreed to by the allies last year.

"As North Korea's security threats escalated unprecedentedly, we have successfully contributed to easing the public's anxiety by strengthening our capabilities to respond through the South Korea-US alliance," he said.

He noted, "The diplomatic environment facing our country in an era of multiple global crises is becoming increasingly challenging.

"Over the past 20 months, I spared no effort during all 38 of my trips that span a flight distance of over 540,000 kilometers, equivalent to circling the globe around 13 times," he said.

Park also said Yoon's vision of South Korea as a "global pivotal state" will be "in full swing" as it began a two-year term as a nonpermanent UN Security Council member this year.

"I believe that South Korea's status has reached the point where it is on par with the Group of Seven countries, and our national power has expanded significantly," Park told reporters. "I feel a great sense of accomplishment."

The G7 consists of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Park, a four-term lawmaker with extensive expertise on foreign affairs, took up the post in May 2022 as the first foreign minister under the Yoon administration. He plans to return to the National Assembly.

Cho Tae-yul, a former South Korean ambassador to the United Nations, is set to replace Park. (Yonhap)