US President Biden and new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol have pledged to further cooperate on many technologies, including joint efforts to combat North Korea.
While the United States agreed to deploy physical weapons and conduct military exercises if necessary to defend the South against the North, the two together swore to “significantly expand cooperation in confronting a variety of cyber threats from the DPRK, including but not limited to state-sponsored cyber attacks.”
This cooperation will include working groups attended by law enforcement and national security agencies from both nations.
North Korea is accused of running many offensive operations online. Last month, the US government offered a reward of up to $5 million for information to disrupt North Korean state-backed cryptocurrency theft, cyber espionage, and other illicit activities. That reward came a day after the FBI blamed the Lazarus Group, a cybercrime gang it runs on behalf of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, for the theft of $620 million from Ronin Network from the video game Axie Infinity. .
And last week, the FBI warned companies that North Korean cyberspies were posing as foreign IT workers with an eye to committing cybercrimes.
South Korea and the US also pledged greater cooperation to safeguard emerging technologies and tackle supply chain issues.
“As global leaders in technology and innovation, the United States and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) are committed to fostering strong and resilient supply chains, deepening our cooperation in space and the new digital frontiers, and safeguarding a digital environment and reliable and values-based technological ecosystem, in line with our shared democratic values,” read a statement from the White House on the weekend meeting of the two presidents.
Both nations also celebrated the achievements of their scientific and engineering communities.
Those brains, along with $25 billion in investments from local “lead companies,” will be harnessed in the development of semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, and to bolster the supply chain, as well as research and development for AI, 6G, and computing. quantum.
The United States has earmarked $2.5 billion and the Republic of Korea $1 billion for research, development, testing and deployment of secure 5G and 6G networks, and both have said they are committed to working with open RAN technology and standardization to strengthen supply chains. .
In addition to the issue of supply chains, the two leaders committed their countries to “early warning systems to detect and address potential supply chain disruptions” and are working together to address the sourcing and processing of critical minerals. Supply chain dialogue working groups are also underway.
On the national security front, the two nations agreed to improve export control authorities and screening of foreign investments related to critical technologies.
The White House said South Korea would endorse the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, thus taking a stand against “digital authoritarianism,” pledging to uphold human rights and foster the open “network of networks” that guarantees global freedom of information. . The document was signed at the end of last month by more than 60 countries. At the same time, Russia acted to restrict Internet access for its citizens during its illegal invasion of Ukraine, and China took measures such as restricting the activities of some social media applications.
But the intention goes beyond pointing fingers at other countries. South Korea and the US also said they would clean up domestic abuse, for example in areas promoting gender equality and safety, by founding the Global Alliance for Action Against Online Gender-Based Harassment and Abuse. .
South Korea in particular has reportedly had a big problem with digital sex crimes against women. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch have called on the country’s government to do more to protect women online.
The promises don’t stop there. There are commitments on space, health and climate change initiatives, a pilot program to ease travel between the two countries by reducing human interaction at the airport, and a magnanimous offer to supply North Korea with vaccines as the country experiences a crisis. . covid wave and widespread lockdowns.