By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Aug. 31, 2023 9:40PM GMT+9
Experts in foreign policy and cybersecurity gathered on Wednesday to explore South Korea’s involvement with the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which comprises the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
“We have to realistically examine two things regarding our involvement with the Five Eyes,” said Yoo In-tae, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at Dankook University’s College of Social Sciences. He made these remarks during the third National Strategy Forum organized by the Korean Association of Cybersecurity Studies (KACS). “One is our willingness. Do we have the desire to join the intelligence alliance? If so, do we have the capability to join them? We need both the willingness and the capability to make things happen.”
The Five Eyes alliance has indicated interest in broadening its intelligence network with other nations to bolster its defense against global threats. South Korea has been cited as a potential new member of the intelligence coalition, among other countries. In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services requested a report from the Director of National Intelligence specifically discussing the possibility of expanding the Five Eyes network to include South Korea, Japan, India, and Germany.
Lee Choong-koo, a research fellow at the Center for Security and Strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), delved into the details of South Korea’s potential involvement. He examined the pros and cons for both South Korea and existing Five Eyes member states.
The expert noted that including South Korea in the intelligence alliance could bolster the partnership against China’s growing influence. Lee added that South Korea stands to benefit as well, by deepening its ties with all five member nations and enhancing its military intelligence-gathering capabilities. However, he also highlighted challenges, such as South Korea’s relationship with China and cultural and linguistic differences with member states other than the U.S., with whom South Korea has had years of cooperation.
Jun Hae-won, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, believes the chances are slim for South Korea to join the intelligence alliance. “During World War II, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand significantly supported the other countries. They’ve built a foundation of trust since then. For instance, Australia even sent soldiers to France—consider the weight of that contribution,” Jun explained.
Nevertheless, the professor emphasized the importance of broadening South Korea’s information-sharing network globally. “It’s crucial for countries spanning both sides of the Eurasian Continent to better understand each other,” Jun asserted. “Currently, neither side knows what information the other might deem essential. Collective analysis, based on shareable information, is key.”
The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.
Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.