[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]U.S. troop view disputed

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]U.S. troop view disputed

Before beginning, I would like to state that I am neither American nor one of those expatriates who reflexively criticize all things Korean. On the contrary, I am a keen student of Korean culture, politics and history, studying at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies.
It was with considerable annoyance that I read Yuna Park’s letter (April 13) urging an end to the U.S. military presence in South Korea. The ROK-U.S. military alliance is far from perfect, and legitimate arguments do exist for its being revised or even scrapped. But those arguments were singularly lacking in Ms. Park’s piece.
First, she dismisses Koreans opposed to the exit of U.S. troops in a post-reunfication Korea as “conservatives (who) believe that to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops... is an ungrateful thing to do.” It is presumably unthinkable that supporters of a continued U.S. presence could be concerned about the economic effects a sudden U.S. withdrawal would have on Korea, or on the wider strategic issues.
Ms. Park also claims Korea could replace the United States “as the balancer of power in the Northeast Asia region,” thus annulling the need for a continued U.S. presence on the peninsula. Really? Could even a reunified Korea act as a check on nuclear ambitions in Japan, or deter China from aggressively staking its claim to Taiwan?
It is in her final paragraph, however, that Ms. Park’s position degenerates into fantasy. By what measure do North and South Korea rank fifth and sixth in military prowess?
Ms. Park’s starting position that U.S. troops should leave a post-reunification Korea is by no means an extreme or indefensible one. But by employing specious arguments in making her case, she goes some way in undermining it.

by Niels Footman
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