On Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, highlighting the need for vigilance. This statement came as Germany was preparing to sign a defense cooperation agreement with South Korea, aimed at enhancing their collaborative efforts in defense matters.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol announced the pact on Sunday during Scholz’s visit to Seoul. He said it aimed to protect military secrets and help “smoothly operate the defense industry supply chain.”
Scholz said North Korea’s ballistic and missile tests were a sign of a “still dangerous situation” on the Korean peninsula. He urged Pyongyang to stop carrying out the tests, calling them a “threat to peace and security in the region.”
Scholz traveled to South Korea on Sunday, after attending the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
He is the first German chancellor to visit the South Korean capital for a bilateral meeting in 30 years.
Scholz met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul. Security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were on the agenda during the talks.
Economic relations were also thought to be a key focus of the visit, as Berlin is seeking to reduce the German economy’s reliance on China and broaden relations with other Asian countries.
Scholz said that he hoped South Korea would invest in his country for chip production. He added that the two countries would work to advance their trade relations, especially in the fields of high-tech and clean energy.
South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia after China, Japan and India.
Yoon had met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the G7 event in Hiroshima this past week.
“From now, I expect South Korea and Germany will further expand reciprocal and future-oriented cooperation and strengthen the solidarity for peace and prosperity of Europe and Asia,” Yoon said in opening remarks at the meeting with Scholz.
The chancellor also visited the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which divides the Korean Peninsula.
Together with his wife Britta Ernst, Scholz visited the blue barracks in the DMZ along the border with North Korea, where the armistice agreement concluded in July 1953 was negotiated after the three-year war.
He said the visit to the border was very important and moving in view of the German division between 1949 and 1990.
“Germany is now reunited. That is a great fortune that we have.” Visiting the Korean border showed how lucky this is, he added.