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The Peninsula

Vision Group Looks to U.S.-ROK Relations in a Changing World

Published January 12, 2021

On January 11, the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) published a report on the future of the U.S.-Korea relationship with recommendations from leading American scholars and policy practitioners. The report comes from six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations that KEI hosted between December 2019 and November 2020 with the support of the Korea Foundation.

During these meetings, individual participants expressed the view that the bilateral relationship should adapt to changes in the global and regional environment, including the rising importance of advanced technologies and supply chains. Attendees also recognized the growing status of the Republic of Korea on the global stage and the need for the U.S.-Korea relationship to reflect this development.

The Vision Group’s key recommendations were as follows:

  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 here.

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