Working toward a Common Approach to Strengthen U.S.-Korean Relations
The new administration of President Lee Myung-bak takes over the reins in Seoul in a climate in which there appears to have been some reevaluation of the U.S.-ROK relationship by the South Korea body politic. Perhaps due to the North Korea nuclear test, the controversy surrounding China’s historical claims on the ancient kingdom of Kokuryo, and the stark relief in which the alliance was placed by the negotiations on the transfer of wartime operational control, a sizable majority of South Korean voters clearly indicated their preference for an improvement in U.S.-Korean relations in Korea’s December 2007 elections. As this is the political base to which President Lee Myung-bak will be beholden, the current transition in Seoul likely represents a new political reality.
In order to better understand this new reality, the Mansfield Foundation, with support of the Korea Foundation, commissioned five papers from leading American scholars on how the U.S. and South Korea might forge a common approach on economic and humanitarian issues, denuclearization, a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism; trade and economic relations; and the U.S.-ROK military alliance. These papers, including the introduction, recommendations and chapter summaries in Korean, were published as a book in March 2008.
Jon B. Wolfsthal, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Toby Dalton, Ph.D. candidate at The George Washington University, Luce Scholar to South Korea, 2001-02