“Pyeongtaek US military base, something like a’thorn in the neck’ in China”

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Nam Si-wook, a journalist who published’The Birth Secret of the ROK-US Alliance’


Siwook Nam, Chairman of the Hwajeong Peace Foundation. [박해윤 기자]

●The origin of the ROK-US alliance from a close look
●Isn’t sad, but fearful for the election of Biden
●Pyeongtaek base, something like a thorn in the throat
● “We have allies”
●China must not go beyond the unbearable line
●The first pro-American political leader in history was Gojong

The Korean Peninsula is in a state of cease-fire in which the Korea-US Mutual Defense Treaty and the Korea-China (North Korea and China) friendly cooperation and mutual aid treaty are in parallel. As the US relatively declines and China rises, the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula fluctuates.

The main point of the US Indo-Pacific strategy is to check China’s expansion and transfer (two-way, Indian Ocean, Pacific) advance along with Japan, Australia and India. It is bound to collide with China’s One Belt, One Road. The US hopes that Korea will also join the Indo-Pacific strategy. If a new Cold War composition is formed and the US-China conflict goes beyond normal friction and spreads in all directions, the ROK-US relations and the ROK-China relations are not individual issues, but a zero-sum (if one side benefits, the other side loses) ).

The Moon Jae-in administration emphasizes’balance’ in the diplomacy of the great powers, but if the US-ROK relations and the ROK-China relations are structured into a zero-sum game, the view that “Let’s strengthen the ROK-US alliance and relations with China at the same time” can be a tabletop debate. In an era of conflict between the US and China, what is the ROK-US alliance for us?

The origin of the ROK-US alliance from a close look

US President-elect Joe Biden visits a memorial to the Korean War veterans in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as the first official event after the declaration of victory in the Veterans Day on November 11 (local time). [필라델피아=AP 뉴시스]

Nam Si-wook (82), the chairman of the Hwajeong Peace Foundation, recently published the “The Birth Story of the ROK-US Alliance”, a book that carefully examines the process of signing the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty. The origin of the ROK-US alliance was concluded in 1953, and it is a mutual defense treaty that has served as the structure of international politics surrounding the Korean Peninsula for 67 years.

In accordance with the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which was concluded by the Republic of Korea persuading the United States, Korea and the United States formed an alliance and the US troops were stationed on the Korean Peninsula, forming a structure in which East Asian countries check each other. The ROK-US alliance served as a balancer for peace in East Asia for 67 years.

After graduating from Seoul National University’s Department of Politics, Chairman Nam Si-wook devoted himself to the media in 1959 as a reporter at the Dong-A Ilbo, and worked as a reporter for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Politics, and a Tokyo correspondent. He served as the director of the Dong-A Ilbo publishing bureau, the editor-in-chief, the editorial office director, and the executive director. He served as President of Munhwa Ilbo and President of Korea Newspaper Broadcasting Editors Association.

During the democratic uprising in June 1987, all citizens were responsible for democratization, but the Dong-A Ilbo exploration report served as the trigger. He was the command tower of the exploration report of the’Park Jong-cheol torture death case’, which became a watershed in modern history. As the editor-in-chief of the Dong-A Ilbo, he led a series of reports that uncovered the truth of the torture murder case.

At the age of over 80 years old, why did he indulge in exploring the origins of the ROK-US alliance? In the foreword of the’birth story of the ROK-US alliance’, he wrote:

“The Republic of Korea has become a hostage to the North Korean nuclear weapons, and has become a pitiful person protected as if avoiding a shower under the US nuclear umbrella. If President Syngman Rhee had not signed a defense treaty with the United States immediately after the ceasefire in 1953, what would Korea look like now? Is it possible to affirm that the internal crisis of collapse did not occur due to the operation of external forces and the call of pro-North Korea and pro-Chinese forces in Korea? This is one of the motivations to focus the study of the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty on the process of concluding the treaty.”

The’Birth Secret of the ROK-US Alliance’ is a review of the entire process from the initial signing of the ROK-US Mutual Protection Treaty, to the formal signing and ratification, the exchange of instruments of ratification, and the announcement of the treaty. Describe in detail the political and international background that came out.

Another inflection point facing the crisis of the ROK-US alliance

‘The secret story of the birth of the ROK-US alliance’ recently published by Chairman Si-wook Nam. This is a detailed look into the process of signing the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty.

The title of Chapter 1 of’The Secret Story of the Birth of the ROK-US Alliance’ is’The ROK-US Alliance, which the US rejected.’ At the time, Syngman Rhee used the edge of the cliff tactics. In the United States, he has been referred to as a master of manipulation. The United States suffered from Rhee Syngman’s stubbornness. It was like a thorn in America. Syngman Rhee shouted against a ceasefire without reunification, and the ROK military alone marched in North Korea and unified. This is the reason Washington has established the’Plan Ever Ready’, the main focus of’elimination of Syngman Rhee and establishment of a military government’. Syngman Rhee stubbornly insisted against the ceasefire and demanded the conclusion of a mutual defense treaty before the withdrawal of UN forces. There was also an unexpected incident of releasing 27,000 people on anti-communist guns without US consent. Even in the course of the Korea-US negotiations, the EverReady Plan repeatedly climbed up and down on the desk.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and the 67th anniversary of the ROK-US alliance. The situation surrounding Korea and the United States heralds a challenge to the future of the ROK-US alliance. The Biden administration will be launched in the United States on January 20 next year. This is another inflection point facing the crisis of the ROK-US alliance.

Chairman Nam Si-wook said, “67 years ago, Syngman Rhee had a foresight.” “Korea’s strategic values ​​are different from those immediately after World War II. The US military base in Pyeongtaek is like a’thorn in the neck’ in China.” “With Biden’s election, the Moon Jae-in administration’s policy toward North Korea took a break,” he said. “North Korea will also be afraid of the Biden administration.”

The beauty of beauty in 70 years after the end of the Joseon Dynasty

-In a way, the Republic of Korea has lived in the structure of the ROK-US alliance for 67 years.

“At first the US was not willing to enter into a mutual protection treaty. The United States gave way to Syngman Rhee. The opposition was particularly strong in the US military. I even tried to get rid of Syngman Rhee by making an Everready plan.”

-There were also expressions such as’the edge of the cliff tactics’ and’the master of tricks’ with only Rhee at the time.

“It is a bad expression of Syngman Rhee from the perspective of a powerful country. There was also public opinion in the United States as to why they received the claim of a weak country. It was different in Korea. What happens when the US military goes away. In front of the Chinese Army, the ROK Army was insignificant. The United States tried to get rid of Syngman Rhee, who couldn’t speak, but eventually failed.”

-In the book, the signing of the Korea-US Mutual Protection Treaty is expressed as’a rejoicing that was achieved 70 years after the end of the Joseon Dynasty’.

“The signing of the ROK-US Mutual Protection Treaty is 70 years after adopting the “Yeonmi” route at the Chinese New Year’s Conference in October 1880 during the time of King Gojong. In May 1882, Joseon signed a Suho Trade Treaty with the United States at Chemulpo. When the US Corporation took office, Gojong danced with excitement. Article 1 of the Treaty on Defense Trade between the United States and the United States stipulates that when one of the Contracting States is’deal unjustly or oppressively’, that is, when one party is subjected to unjust action, insults, or threats by one party, the other party will arbitrate.

The United States understood Japan’s domination on the Korean Peninsula in 1905 when Japan made the Korean Empire a protectorate, as a condition of condoning the US rule of the Philippines. It is a complete violation of Article 1 of the Treaty of Protection and Trade between the United States and the United States. After World War II, they withdrew from Korea without taking any defensive measures, causing the Korean War to take place a year later.

Pyeongtaek base, something like a thorn in the throat

For Rhee Syngman, who suffered from such a national tragedy and national crisis, it was a great reward in his lifetime to create the ROK-US alliance through the signing of the ROK-US mutual defense treaty.”

Chinese diplomat Hwang Jun-won wrote about the 1880s of the Joseon Dynasty, referring to the relationship between Yeon-mi and Chin-jung. Hwang Jun-won contended that under the sentence of “Yeon United States, pro-China, and Japan”, the country of the United States has no territorial ambitions and does not despise people.

-What was the geopolitical value of the Korean Peninsula in the United States immediately after World War II?

“In the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur crosses the 38th line and advances north. There was an order to retreat when it was discovered that Soviet regular troops had intervened in North Korea and captured Soviet prisoners of war. For the United States, it was unacceptable for the third world war to occur.

The Korean peninsula is short in depth. The distance from Yalu River to Busan is too short. If the land forces from the continent come running like bees, it cannot be handled. The U.S. military, then and now, is fighting a war centered on the air force and the navy. The Korean Peninsula was not of high strategic value to the United States. It should be understood in this context that Korea was excluded from the Acheson Line.

It’s different now. China is now challenging the United States. Where in the world is a base like Pyeongtaek? It’s like a thorn in the neck in China. I think Syngman Rhee had foresight 67 years ago.”

-There is a view that the ROK-US alliance is a crisis.

“It is a crisis. The core forces of the Moon Jae-in government are trying to change the ROK-US alliance. Combined ROK-US training has been suspended. It makes no sense for allies not to train together. Some of the US suspect that South Korea is an alliance to China someday. I think so in Japan. The United States is raising Taiwan. The U.S. may go beyond containment of China and seek dissolution. When Taiwan becomes independent and Uighur and Tibet are liberated, China will be disbanded.”

-President Trump has made a statement that ignores the value of the ROK-US alliance.

“Trump did not threaten the ROK-US alliance itself. Isn’t that person, a merchant? They pressured us to pay more for the USFK garrison. While dealing with Kim Jong-un in top-down diplomacy, he has also messed up the North Korean issue. Fortunately, at the summit meeting with Kim Jong-un held in Vietnam in February last year, we were not fooled. I thought Trump would be completely fooled, but I didn’t.”

Ethnographicism of people who have only exercised since college students

President Moon Jae-in is on the phone with US President-elect Joe Biden on November 12. [청와대 제공]

-US President-elect Biden said in a contribution to Yonhap News on November 29,’Hope for a Better Future’, “To protect peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extortion of South Korea with reckless threats to withdraw our troops. We will stand with Korea while strengthening our alliance for that purpose.”
“The United States has been bipartisan diplomacy. It was Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican government that created the ROK-US alliance. It was Harry Truman’s Democratic government that sent US troops in the Korean War. I think it should be viewed as a matter of diplomatic style. In situations of conflict with China, the existence of South Korea is very important, whether it is a Democratic or Republican government.

The problem facing South Korea is North Korea, not China. Biden’s rule made it difficult for the Moon Jae-in administration’s strange policy toward North Korea to continue. The brakes are applied. The ruling powers say that the end of the war is not an exit, but an entrance to peace, but North Korea is trying to withdraw US troops and collect money through the declaration of an end to the war. Unless President Moon Jae-in is an idiot, there is no way he would not know such a development.”

In mid-November, Elect Biden spoke with the leaders of the allies and delivered a message saying “America is back.” It intends to restore alliance-oriented and multilateral diplomacy. In a call with President Moon Jae-in on November 12, he said, “We will strengthen the ROK-US alliance as a linchpin of safety and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.” It can be interpreted as urging Korea to join the Indo-Pacific strategy. In a message posted on Twitter immediately after the call, President Moon said, “I was able to confirm the strong will of the elect for a solid ROK-US alliance and peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.”

-At the core of the Moon Jae-in regime, some people feel sorry for the defeat of President Trump.

“It’s not that I’m sad, I’m afraid. People who have only exercised since college students are ethnographicism and unificationistism. There is also a view of the Moon Jae-in administration as a pro-North Korean and pro-Chinese government in Joya in the United States. Biden’s foreign policy seems to be predictable. We will negotiate with North Korea on a bottom-up basis, not a top-down basis. Didn’t Trump just trust himself and play one-man? Kim Jong-un used it in reverse.

Biden said he would make America a respected country again. He served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Council and has a very high understanding of Korea. North Korea will also be afraid of Biden. It’s common sense and I’m not the one to be fooled. The crisis elements of the ROK-US alliance are also expected to decrease significantly. The Korea-US joint training will also be started again.”

The alliance made by communist ideology never ends

-In that case, what kind of country do you see as the dream of a force that claims to be friendly to North Korea?

“It’s simple. Breaking the link of the ROK-US alliance. What China fears most is the formation of a military alliance between the United States and the United States in the NATO way. China seems to be drawing a pluralistic security of the Korean peninsula through multilateral cooperation, not the ROK-US alliance. In terms of cross-section, it means that China will also wear one leg. In a large sense, it is similar to the neutralization of the Korean Peninsula. Syngman Rhee’s most objection is the neutralization of the United States leaving its hands.”

-The Treaty of Friendship Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and China (North Korea and China) is another axis of the Korean Peninsula issue.

“It is an alliance formed by communist ideology, so it cannot be broken.”

-As competition for supremacy with the United States began, the value of North Korea increased even in China.

“Because you can use North Korea as a leverage. Beijing pays everything back and plays with Pyongyang.”

-Isn’t’balance’ between the US and China inevitably the answer?

“Styly speaking, the security is the US and the economy is China. That makes sense. Nevertheless, what should be clarified is that we have to draw a line in China, saying,’We have allies, and economic relations that benefit each other with you are at the center’. It is also necessary not to cross the line that China cannot stand, such as participating in the US missile defense (MD).”

-The US advantage is not the same as before.

“It was called Wonkyo Geun-gong (遠交近攻). The first pro-American political leader in history was not only Rhee Seung, but Gojong. Gojong, above all, saw that the United States does not covet the territory. We have to make fellowship with distant countries and keep the great ones close by.”

Reporter Song Hong-geun Go to reporter page [email protected]>

[이 기사는 신동아 12월호에 실렸습니다]

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