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ROK-US alliance marks the 70th anniversary

Posted April. 01, 2023 08:06,   

Updated April. 01, 2023 08:06


Marking the 70th anniversary of the ROK-US alliance and the 103rd anniversary of the founding of the Dong-A Ilbo, together with the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, conducted a survey targeting citizens of both Korea and the United States, and both citizens agreed on the need for the stationing of U.S. forces in Korea and the ROK-US joint training. On the other hand, there was a significant difference in perception between Koreans and Americans about the “America First” legislation such as the CHIPS Act. These survey results indicate that there is an urgent need for efforts to narrow the gap in perception between the two countries on economic security issues directly related to the Korean economy, such as trade and investment with the United States.

The results of this survey affirm that the people of the United States and South Korea share the rationale and necessity of a bilateral security alliance. 66% of American respondents said the presence of U.S. forces in Korea was necessary, and furthermore, 71% agreed on the necessity of joint training. When asked, “Should we send troops in the event of a war in the other country?”, the share of U.S. respondents in favor of dispatching troops was higher than opposed. Mutual recognition that security interests are shared, rather than unilateral dependence or burden given on any country, is the core foundation of the alliance's solidarity.

It is somewhat surprising that the public opinion of Americans in favor of South Korea's nuclear weapons or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-style nuclear sharing was higher than those opposed. Although the U.S. administration has expressed disapproval of South Korea's nuclear armament in any form, Americans' perceptions are not aligned with that. It points to the fact that their fear of the North Korean nuclear threat is great. Still, it also serves as an opportunity to peak at the underlying mindset of Americans that they want it to end as a “problem on the Korean Peninsula and it should stay that way.” We should take note of the mixed reaction between the U.S. and South Korea on the level of South Korea's defense cost sharing as it could also be a potential source of tension in the alliance.

The gap in perception between Korea and the United States in the economic field shows that it will be an important challenge for the future alliance between the two countries. More than 80% of Koreans agreed with whether the interests of allies should be considered in the U.S. CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, but only half of the Americans agreed. 76.7% of South Koreans and 41.4% of Americans said that the ROK-US alliance positively impacted their respective economies. This leads to the overarching trend of Americans who value economic interests more than the value or utility of the alliance.

The ROK-US alliance began with the mighty power of the US that saved Korea from the verge of crisis. Of course, the difference in national power, including military and economic power, remains the same between the two countries. However, Korea now boasts the world's 10th-largest economy and military might. The two countries started as an asymmetrical alliance with a poor balance of power, but now, as security and economic partners, they must grow into an alliance that addresses each other's shortcomings on an equal footing. A larger role for Korea to play, especially for Korean businesses, could show us a more attractive future for the bilateral alliance.