Korea-U.S. Summit : Results and Challenges
Director of the Department of Diplomatic Strategy Studies,
the Sejong Institute
On May 21st, 2021, the
first summit between President Biden and President Moon Jae In was held at the
White House. Analytically, South Korea and the U.S. have reached a reasonable
agreement through the summit. President Moon Jae In could gain U.S. support for
the Korean Peninsula Peace Process, and President Biden could secure a stable
supply of semiconductors and electric vehicle batteries needed for the 4th
industrial revolution. However, the joint statement contains many terms and
phrases that may hinder the actual
In terms of security, the end
of the Revised Missile Guidelines allows South Korea to develop and possess
intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can strike China and all of Japan.
The Panmunjom Declaration of
April 27th, 2018, and the Joint Statement of June 12th,
2018, served as starting points for South Korea and the U.S. policy toward
North Korea. The Moon Jae In administration will actively improve inter-Korean
relations. In addition, the appointment of Sung Kim as U.S. Special envoy for
North Korea indicates that there is a readied team to negotiate the North
Korean nuclear issue. The U.S.-North Korea negotiation will begin as soon as
North Korea responds.
In terms of the economy, the
scope of the U.S.-South Korea alliance expanded. South Korea and the U.S.
promised to cooperate in areas of climate change, world health, emerging
technology (5G, 6G, and semiconductors), supply chain resilience, migration,
development, and exchange of human resources. In particular, the U.S. and South
Korea agreed to establish a comprehensive KORUS Global Partnership and a KORUS
Global Vaccine Partnership Expert Group to unite the U.S. vaccine development
capabilities and South Korea's vaccine production capabilities. President Biden
promised to provide COVID-19 vaccines for 550,000 South Korean soldiers and
avoid a loophole in South Korea’s defense.
In the joint statement, South
Korea and the U.S. emphasized the importance of diplomatic talks to solve North
Korean issues, the full implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolution,
cooperative improvement of human rights in North Korea, and the U.S.-South
Korea-Japan relations. There was also a mention of resuming joint military
exercises between the U.S. and South Korea; this, however, prevents North Korea
from gladly responding to inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean negotiations. If
South Korea does not actively participate in the Indo-Pacific Strategy, which
the U.S. is pursuing to keep China in check, then the U.S.-South Korea alliance
will fail to function as a Comprehensive Strategic Alliance. Then, the U.S.
Forces in South Korea will harden its strategic flexibility. Then, the
deterrence against North Korea will be weakened. Also, Korea-China relations
should be particularly monitored as there were terms and phrases used by the
U.S. to criticize China in the joint statement although there was no actual
mention of the word ‘China.’
※ Translator’s note: This is a third party’s unofficial translation of the original paper that was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.
※ This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.