S. Korea to seek appropriate steps from U.S. after verification of leaked documents

April 10, 2023

South Korea will seek “appropriate measures” from the United States if necessary after the two countries look into the veracity of leaked documents purporting the U.S. eavesdropped on South Korean officials, the presidential office said Monday.

According to reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post, a set of leaked Pentagon documents shared on social media revealed that U.S. intelligence services eavesdropped on conversations at the South Korean presidential office in early March regarding whether to provide weapons support to Ukraine.

President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap)

“Once the two countries finish figuring out the situation, we plan to request appropriate measures from the U.S. if necessary,” a presidential official told reporters. “That process will proceed based on a relationship of trust formed between two allies.”

The official noted the reports on the leaked documents have not yet been verified as true and that a U.S. government investigation is under way.

He also pointed out most of the information contained within the purported U.S. documents is related to Russia’s war in Ukraine, with some in the U.S. suspecting some of the information was fabricated.

“If there are forces trying to exaggerate this incident ahead of the South Korea-U.S. summit or distort it to undermine the alliance, they will face the resistance of many people,” the official said, referring to President Yoon Suk Yeol’s planned summit with U.S. President Joe Biden on April 26.

The official also denied accusations from the main opposition Democratic Party that the alleged eavesdropping resulted from the Yoon administration’s hasty relocation of the presidential office.

“In terms of security at the presidential office building, we prepared perfectly during the relocation process, and though I can’t divulge details, we’re still carrying out regular checks on areas that you’re concerned about, and there have been no problems until now,” he said.

The official went on to claim the current presidential office building is more secure than the former presidential complex of Cheong Wa Dae because the bunker there partially emerged from the ground.