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KEI Spotlight

Biden Takes the Right First Steps With South Korea, But a Long Road Lies Ahead

March 12, 2021

In his latest column for the Diplomat Magazine, KEI Director of Academic Affairs and Fellow Kyle Ferrier noted that new challenges still need to be faced even as the Biden administration is moving to repair damages that the Trump administration inflicted on the U.S.-Korea Alliance.

The column welcomes the news of an agreement in principle to a new military burden-sharing agreement and the upcoming official visits by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Korea; however, Kyle also points out that the ground has shifted during those four years and requires special attention:

Ties between Seoul and Tokyo worsened under Trump over historical issues, namely 2018 court rulings in South Korea that determined Koreans forced into working for Japanese steel companies during World War II were owed compensation, in turn prompting Japan to tighten export controls on components crucial to South Korea’s semiconductor industry…  helping the two reconcile may prove harder now given recent events.

Additionally, even though Biden looks to have a less confrontational approach toward China across the board, Seoul is still going to view Beijing as less of a threat than Washington does.

Read the full article here