Nurture Korea-U.S. allianceKey Resolve, a Korea-U.S. joint military drill that ended last weekend, set a good model for the alliance of the two countries. It boasted a developed defense capacity. As an example, a nuclear-powered submarine armed with missiles participated in the annual exercise for the first time, and Special Forces from both countries trained with the new submarine.
Apart from enhancing the military alliance, U.S. soldiers who participate in the training drew attention from Korean citizens by doing volunteer work during their stay in Korea.
Sailors from the submarine delivered charcoal briquettes to low-income families in Busan. Crew members from an aircraft carrier visited a welfare center for senior citizens and gave shoulder massages to elderly ladies.
The U.S. military stationed in Korea has staged a variety of events to become closer to Korean society since Hyo-sun and Mi-sun, two Korean girls, were killed in a traffic accident involving U.S. soldiers in 2002. Among other events, it was extraordinary that some 100 U.S. soldiers who visited Korea for the training did voluntary work. They thought that winning the hearts of Korean citizens was a good way to enhance the Korea-U.S. alliance, and they were right.
For the past 10 years, Korea-U.S. relations have weakened. In particular, the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s diplomacy focusing on self-reliance pushed the relationship to the verge of a rupture. The former Korean president even said it was understandable that North Korea would want to possess nuclear weapons, and the United States had some responsibility for North Korea’s missile testing. Under that scenario it was impossible to have good relations with the United States. Fortunately, since the Lee Myung-bak administration was launched, projects to restore the alliance are being implemented.
The Korea-U.S. alliance is a precious asset to both countries. Because we are surrounded by Japan, China and Russia, the alliance with the United States is a basis for our national security. The U.S. army stationed in Korea has tremendous value for our strategies toward Northeast Asia, for instance as a deterrent against China. Thus we need to carefully nurture and treasure our alliance with the United States. Both countries must respect each other.
Most importantly, the people of both countries must not have misunderstandings or mistrust. For this to happen, there must be more opportunities for people from the countries to meet one another.