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S. Korea, US agree to upgrade cyber cooperation, regularize cyber exercises

Aug. 18, 2022 - 17:40 By Ji Da-gyum
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup (L) talks with US Cyber Command and National Security Agency chief Gen. Paul Nakasone (R) during their meeting at the defense ministry building in Seoul on Friday.(Ministry of National Defense)
South Korea and the United States agreed to develop cybersecurity cooperation through steps including regular cyber defense exercises, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Thursday.

South Korea’s Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup met Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of US Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, on Thursday in Seoul.

Both sides discussed recent cyber threats, countermeasures and ways to develop cyber cooperation between Seoul and Washington, South Korea’s Defense Ministry in a Korean-language statement.

Lee and Nakasone shared the view that “bilateral cyber cooperation is a vital element of establishing combined defense,“ and agreed to respond to cyber threats posed by North Korea and other actors in close coordination.

The two leaders committed to furthering close cyber cooperation through various channels to effectively respond to the increasingly advanced and sophisticated cyber threats.

To that end, Lee and Nakasone agreed to reinforce their capabilities through exchanges in the fields of information operations and regularizing combined cybersecurity exercises.

The Defense Ministry said South Korea and the US would “develop the level and areas of cooperation substantially and in a concrete manner” with Nakasone’s visit to South Korea as momentum.

South Korea’s Cyber Operations Command and the US Cyber Command also signed a memorandum of understanding on “cooperation and development in cyberspace operations.”

The US and South Korea cyber commands expect that the memorandum will “serve as an important opportunity to enhance their cyber operations capabilities” by advancing information sharing on cyber threats, and cooperating on cyber defense exercises and training and among others.

The US Cyber Command said it expects to “closely cooperate with the South Korean military to mitigate threats posed by common enemies in cyberspace,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in the Korean-language statement.

The memo came after President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden agreed in May to expand cyber cooperation to address 21st-century challenges.

The South Korean and US leaders also committed to “significantly” expanding cooperation to confront a range of cyber threats posed by North Korea to help reinforce alliance deterrence against the North’s destabilizing activities.

As part of their efforts, the South Korean military also plans to participate in the US-led multilateral cyber defense exercise Cyber Flag this October for the first time.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in June that the military will actively participate in multilateral cyber exercises, which the US military either host or join, in a bid to enhance interoperability in cyber operations and partnership with the US.