South Korea to Expand Its Air Defense Identification Zone


South Korea is finalizing plans to expand its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in response to China establishing the East China Sea ADIZ, local newspapers are reporting.

According to a number of local reports, ROK National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo convened a meeting of top South Korean security officials on Sunday to discuss the new ADIZ.

The Korean Herald reported that the ADIZ is rumored to include the “country’s southernmost island of Marado; Hongdo Island, an uninhabited island south of Geojedo Island; and Ieodo, a submerged rock within the overlapping exclusive economic zones of South Korea and China.”

Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed local official as saying “(The new KADIZ) has been conceptually finalized. The government will announce the plan after carefully reviewing the military operation and aviation safety as well as the international regulations.”

Those consultations were initially scheduled to wrap up as early as Tuesday, however, Seoul has reportedly decided to delay the meetings in light of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the region this week. The meetings now may not take place until next week.

South Korea’s current ADIZ was established by the U.S. Air Force in 1951. Following China’s announcement that it is creating an East China Sea ADIZ, which overlapped with the KADIZ, many in South Korea were surprised to learn that the KADIZ didn’t cover some of Seoul’s more remotely claimed islands and submerged reefs.

Expanding the ADIZ is likely to increase tensions with China. Although the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) prohibits countries from claiming submerged reefs like Ieodo (China calls it Suyan Rock), both China and South Korea claim the rock, which falls within both of their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

In a Global Times article last month, Zhao Jianming, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said that compared with other territorial disputes in the East China Sea, “the issue of Suyan Rock, disputed between China and South Korea, is relatively uncovered, but still not unimportant.”

However, the two countries have often been at odds over the submerged rock, particularly when South Korea built the Ieodo Ocean Research Station and a helicopter pad on Ieodo. Zhao said in this article that China’s maritime agencies regularly patrol the waters around the rock. The East China Sea ADIZ also included Ieodo.

At bilateral defense talks last week, China assured South Korea that the new ADIZ was aimed at Tokyo not Seoul. Still, Beijing rejected Seoul’s demand that it redraw the new ADIZ to ensure that it does not encroach on any territory claimed by South Korea. In response, South Korea first suggested that it might expand its own ADIZ to cover its southernmost possessions.

Like Japan and the United States, South Korea has refused to recognize China’s ADIZ and continues to patrol the waters and skies above Ieodo as usual. The Seoul government has also told its national airlines not to identify their planes to China as Beijing demanded all airplanes do when flying in the ADIZ.

South Korea has also been in close consultation with the United States since China first announced the ADIZ. Evan Medeiros, the senior director of Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) met with security officials in Seoul last Wednesday to discuss the ADIZ. As noted above, Vice President Joe Biden will also be in South Korea this week, where conversations are likely to center on China’s new ADIZ. Meanwhile, Kang Chang-hee, speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea (ROK), is expected to visit China later this week.

Medeiros and Biden are also visiting Japan during their trips.

9 dashes, 4 dishes, 1 soup
December 12, 2013 at 09:10

None of the territorial issues between Tokyo & Beijing appear indivisible. At least that’s how I see it. Rational, peaceful solutions can be attained if both sides are willing. Split the islands – share the resource rights – no military basing for either side. Ditch the ADIZ after a settlement has been reached.

There are other ways it could be divided. And simply by negotiating, Japan would have tacitly admitted a dispute exists. That’s one sticking point as I understand it. But even so, go ahead and talk. Maybe they can shelve the sovereignty issue again and split the resource rights. That’s a rational solution. The problem is – one side is not a rational actor.

As far as Dokdo/Takeshima go, that is not a US problem, once Washington understands South Korea is an inherently unreliable ally. But that island dispute also has divisible issues as well, access, sovereignty and resource rights.

The Philippine reefs inside Manla’s EEZ are more difficult. The whole system of international law depends on Manila retaining sovereignty. Soverignty cannot be divided if the EEZ has any legal meaning.

If China is allowed to steal those reefs inside Manila’s EEZ by force, then the international legal system designed to settle these types of dispute no longer has any effect on China. Ergo, the rest of the world can’t be bound by it either.

In fact, China might then be able to claim a new EEZ based on the nine-dashed line. That new EEZ could incorporate the western coastline of Luzon, Palawan and the eastern coastline of Vietnam.

If that happens, I have no doubt, Beijing would demand the ICJ and ITLOS honor the new EEZ it had created by theft. Ergo, the international system of laws would have suffered a fatal wound. That’s why the Panatag Reef is important.

josef john
December 11, 2013 at 12:43

it is possible, that there will be WW3?

December 6, 2013 at 23:32

Let’s get our geography straight: Japan could not possibly expand its ADIZ into the South China Sea as it is not a littoral state (any more than any East Asian state could extend their ADIZ into say, the Arctic Ocean).

December 3, 2013 at 10:48

Another day, another rejection toward red commie china’s self proclaimed ADIZ. Make you wonder how could china and chinese face so much shame and humiliation in public for the whole world to see and laugh at. Must be very painful to suffer that much and that long.

December 3, 2013 at 10:10

Will S.Korea use this opportunity to extend the zone eastward to overlap Japan’s? As of now, Japan’s ADIZ is way to close to the Korean coastline.

December 3, 2013 at 07:38

It is another slap on China’s face. This time it is from Koreans.

December 3, 2013 at 05:38

now then. lets see if the media screams bloody murder when SK expands their zone. they certainly didn’t when japan expanded its zone into parts of Taiwan’s zone in 2010. the US certainly didn’t scream about it.
i predict there will be a deafening silence.

December 2, 2013 at 23:03

China should also expand its air defense zone.

jim dandy
December 3, 2013 at 05:52

Japans going to expand its zone and include the whole south china sea

December 2, 2013 at 22:52

How would this work any better than the Chinese ADIZ? Maybe China should give up on Korea for the time being.

TV Monitor
December 5, 2013 at 12:00


The ROK actually patrols its declared ADIZ in the East China Sea.

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