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The Vision Group on U.S.-ROK Relations: Insights and Recommendations

The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), with the generous support of the Korea Foundation, organized six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations with leading American scholars and commentators to discuss the United States’ relationship with the Republic of Korea. The first was held in December 2019, the last in November 2020. The intent was to consider the future of relations during a time of change. The Vision Group comprised a wide range of expertise and opinion. This record conveys some of the insights and recommendations that arose during the conversations.

These recommendations included:

  1. Washington and Seoul should undertake a strategic review of their future alliance and partnership.
  2. It would be useful to conduct a thorough post-mortem of what actually took place at the February 2019 Hanoi Summit and see whether any part of it might still be built upon.
  3. An in-depth conversation between Washington and Seoul regarding what type of economic assistance would help North Korea, what it might be willing to accept, and which countries or organizations are best placed to provide it, could help determine a diplomatic way forward.
  4. The Biden Administration should act quickly on North Korea to prevent Pyongyang from setting the stage by creating a crisis, as it has in the past.
  5. One new approach might be for the United States and South Korea to make a joint, public offer to North Korea including both demands and concessions.
  6. Consideration should be given to instituting a technology information sharing agreement among trusted, leading countries, similar to the “Five Eyes” system that facilitates the sharing of intelligence.
  7. South Korea and the United States should discuss the issue of Chinese economic pressure with countries of the region to consider whether a coordinated response would be appropriate.
  8. South Korea should consider its role in the evolving coordination among like-minded countries, including the United States, in shaping China’s international behavior.
  9. The South Korean government might gain more American popular support for its inter-Korean policies if it described them in terms of universal values.
  10. The U.S. and South Korean governments might consider sponsoring or organizing a private sector advisory commission to help them think through the increasingly complex and promising interrelationships between the United States and Korea.

KEI eagerly invites you to read the full report.

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