Seoul has again described Tokyo as its "closest neighbor," using the same expression for two straight years after upgrading it from "a close neighbor" in 2019.
In its annual diplomatic white paper published on Monday, South Korea's foreign ministry said Seoul has taken a "two-track approach" to separate historical issues from "future-oriented cooperation" in practical areas to stably manage and develop Seoul-Tokyo relations.
The 2021 version also includes a new chapter on pandemic-related diplomatic activities such as the protection of Korean nationals and businesses abroad.
Highlighting Korea's COVID-19 diplomacy, foreign minister Chung Eui-yong noted in a preface that Seoul actively responded to the changing environment at home and abroad to protect its people and national interests at a time when countries across the globe closed their borders.
In terms of inter-Korean relations, the ministry noted that it continued with efforts to revitalize denuclearization talks with North Korea despite the regime's border closure over the global crisis.
The paper further noted that Seoul and Washington remained in close cooperation to sternly respond to the North's missile activities and the blowing up of the inter-Korean liaison office last June.
In regard to relations with China, the white paper stated that the two countries have developed a "strategic, cooperative" partnership by actively communicating through traditional in-person meetings as well as using virtual methods.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.