Korea Mulls Including Ieo in Air Defense Zone

The Defense Ministry wants to discuss with other ministries including the submerged shelf of Ieo Island in Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said in the National Assembly Defense Committee on Tuesday.

Asked by Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Hee-soo whether Ieo should be included in the Korean defense zone, Kim said Korea already has "effective control" over the island and that Japan has yet to protest.

The ministry is mulling expanding of the country's current air defense zone to the same boundaries as the Flight Information Region, which was created simply to ensure smooth air traffic flow. That region already includes a large part of Japan's identification zone south of Jeju Island as well as Ieo.

A ministry official said any country can in principle decide its own air identification zone unilaterally, but added Korea would prefer to discuss the matter with China and Japan.

Chief presidential security advisor Kim Jang-soo also told lawmakers that Ieo Island is "part of Korea's military area of operation" and that China's inclusion of the underwater shelf in its own identification zone has no bearing on this.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 27, 2013 12:29 KST