March 19, 2021

What Biden Should Consider When Picking the New US Ambassador to South Korea

The past four years have tested the resolve of the U.S.-ROK alliance as both Washington and Seoul clashed over traditional points of contention, such as the military cost-sharing of U.S. troops in South Korea, with extraordinary vigor. As the Biden administration concludes its first diplomatic trip to Seoul, it is imperative that President Joe Biden selects a new U.S. ambassador to South Korea who can not only support U.S. national interests abroad, but also improve public trust in the alliance.

The United States’ continued hyper-fixation on the military aspect of the alliance will only hinder its ability to access less controversial avenues for the strengthening of trust between the American and South Korean people. The ultimate responsibility of the U.S. ambassador to South Korea is not to show Seoul why U.S. troops should stay on the Korean Peninsula, but rather to show the South Korean government and public alike that the U.S.-ROK alliance is a partnership involving mutually beneficial and equally important military, economic, social, and cultural aspects.

Washington should refrain from viewing its relationship with Seoul as solely a tool to expand its North Korea and China policy.

The North Korea and China security threat, although irrefutably dangerous, should not solely determine the validity of the U.S.-ROK alliance. Although both U.S. and South Korean policy toward North Korea and China is most effective when applied bilaterally, the severe polarization of the conservative and progressive parties in South Korea prevents any two politically opposing presidents from continuing previous U.S. or North Korean policies.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

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