Sejong Policy Series
Individual and joint research results are published as Policy Books.

Sejong Policy Series

The New U.S. Administration and Pending Issues between ROK and the U.S.
2017.11.15  Wednesday
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Daewoo Lee, Sang Hyun Lee, Park Jong Chul, Lee Wang-hwi



The Sejong Institute has continuously strived to establish South Korea’s strategy regarding foreign affairs, national security, and Korean unification, with the brand of “National Strategy.” As a response to the rapidly-shifting strategic landscape domestically and internationally, the Sejong Institute published five volumes of National Strategy 2020 in 2005 and published three volumes of National Strategy 2030 in 2016 after the planning in 2015. Indeed, the institute also makes efforts to aid the South Korean government‘s policy-making for the mid-to-long term by holding Sejong National Strategy Forum twice every year. It published the research outcome, The New U.S. Administration and Pending Issues between ROK and the U.S., after analyzing the Trump administration’s foreign policy, policy regarding the Korean Peninsula to be exact, which was inaugurated in January 2017, and revising the details to assist the policy formulation of the Moon Jae-in administration which was inaugurated in May 2017, toward the U.S.

As Dr. Lee Daewoo elucidates in the preface, in the midst of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development threatening the international community beyond Northeast Asia, the uncertainty surrounding the Korean Peninsula and the international security environment have further escalated as Donald Trump, a businessman of peculiar personality without any experience in the public office, was elected as the 45th President of the United States. In such circumstances, pending issues between South Korea and the U.S. have emerged such as policy coordination regarding North Korea, the renegotiations of KORUS FTA, and measures to enhance ROK-U.S. alliance. The book focuses on measures to resolve these issues through analysis of the bones of contention within these issues.


In the first chapter, Dr. Lee Sang Hyun prospects the Trump administration’s tenets of foreign policy strategy and policy orientation and generally analyzes the pending issues in setting relations with the new South Korean administration. When negotiating with the U.S. on the contending issues between the two countries, Dr. Lee underscores that the South Korean government should be cognizant of the point that President Trump adheres to transactional state-to-state relations and hardline stance on China and hence, demonstrate in numbers that South Korea’s share of defense costs contributes to the stationing of U.S. Forces in Korea and KORUS FTA contributes to job creation.


On the second chapter concerning the DPRK-U.S. relations and ROK-U.S. coordination on North Korea policy, Dr. Park Jong-chul of Korea Institute for National Unification summarized the Trump administration’s policy option regarding North Korea in four different kinds sanctions, diplomatic and military pressure, regime change, and dialogue and suggested different scenarios for DPRK-U.S. relations based on the mentioned policy options partial compromise of nuclear freeze, North Korea’s denuclearization, recognition of North Korea’s nuclear possession, and military clash. In light of such scenarios, he concluded with the order of possibility the recognition of North Korea’s nuclear possession, North Korea’s denuclearization, military clash, and North Korea’s nuclear freeze the latter being more probable. Meanwhile, he regarded that the most desirable scenario for South Korea will be North Korea‘s denuclearization, followed by North Korea’s nuclear freeze, while military clash and the acknowledgment of North Korea as a nuclear power as worst case scenarios.


Professor Lee Wang-hwi of Ajou University writes that the Trump administration’s external economic policy will bring considerable changes to U.S. economic diplomacy overall, not to mention the ROK-U.S. trade relations and asserts that ‘America First’ the notion that President Trump underlines hints at a transition in U.S. economic policy, thus a review of overall U.S. economic policy to achieve the goal of ‘job creation’ in the third chapter. However, he prospects that South Korea and the U.S. will not hassle in economic terms, with some concessions from the South Korean side in consideration of the security situation. He claims that South Korea should enhance lobby activities toward the U.S. Congress and expand direct investment in the U.S., emphasizing that it should extricate from the perception that the KORUS FTA renegotiations will be disadvantageous to South Korea.


In the final chapter, Dr. Lee Daewoo of the Sejong Institute lays out five security issues standing between South Korea and the U.S., with both countries having new administrations this year by a four-month time difference. These issues are the THAAD deployment on the Korean Peninsula and the cost involved, the share of defense burden, the reinforcement of ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral security cooperation, the early transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON), the enhancement of international cooperation of ROK-U.S. alliance. Nonetheless, he viewed that as these issues could be resolved without difficulty between the Moon Jae-in administration and the Trump administration, they will not have a negative impact on the bilateral ties overall.


Volume No.: 2017-9
Publisher: The Sejong Institute
Publication Date: November 15, 2017

Paperback, 184 Pages