[Viewpoint] A valuable partnership‘The Joint Vision for the Alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States of America” adopted at the summit meeting of the two nations’ leaders on Tuesday creates a blueprint for turning an essentially military alliance, which has been in operation for the past 60 years, into a more comprehensive and strategic plan.
The joint vision includes nearly all sectors, from Washington’s strong reaffirmation for hard-line responses to North Korea’s provocations, efforts to move a free trade agreement between Seoul and Washington forward and cooperation in high-tech science and technology such as green growth and space development.
It is refreshing that the two countries have promised to be reborn as allies in a union that goes beyond the regional limitations of the Korean Peninsula.
As with human relations, allies have to change over time.
Experts maintain that the alliance has weakened and has become difficult to maintain. Some people feel dissatisfied and want changes.
The Seoul-Washington alliance has developed to the current level because the two countries have shared a common threat and a mutual goal to deter the spread of communism.
However, for the past 10 years, perceptions of North Korea have changed and the alliance between South Korea and the United States has accordingly showed signs of discord from time to time.
In Korea, cooperation between some Korean nationals and those supporting the South Korea-United States alliance has not always been smooth.
Revisionists think that the strengthened alliance with Washington has hindered cooperation with the North.
In our society, quite a few look at the South Korea-United States alliance from this twisted point of view. It is necessary to encourage these voices to see the value of the alliance for our collective futures.
For now, it is possible to have a firm alliance with the United States because of North Korea’s apparent nuclear threat and its recent aggressive rhetoric, as well as the missile launches.
But what’s important is to establish an alliance that can be sustained even after the two Koreas are reunified.
The true meaning of the joint vision adopted by South Korea and the United States can be found when the two countries confirm that they can maintain cooperation beyond the Korean Peninsula.
As seen in the G-20 meeting in April, other countries understand the necessity of abolishing trade protectionism, the argument that our country made.
We have our own experiences of overcoming a financial crisis and developing strategies to escape an economic slowdown.
If we could create a value system that 6 billion people of the world can share and put our trademark enthusiasm and energy into it, our strategic value will earn recognition on the global stage.
The joint vision with Washington will require us to make sacrifices and pay the cost.
What is most necessary, though, is to become a true partner in the alliance and endure the necessary burdens.
Americans have continuously believed in the value of making the world a safe place to make democracy possible.
Thanks to their belief and sacrifice, we have been able to overcome terrible conditions and become a country that can help the world economically and politically.
Particularly, our achievement that caused us to be recognized as almost the only country that has advanced democracy out of the ruins of war proves that we are capable of helping the world, together with the United States.
For the past several years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States learned the lesson that its manifest destiny was hard to realize on its own.
The joint vision declares to the world that South Korea is qualified to serve as a reliable supporter of the United States.
We can help the United States by taking care of the underprivileged around the world and providing them better opportunities in life.
The people in North Korea and Afghanistan are definitely underprivileged and it is valuable work for us to provide them with hope.
What’s left now is for the government to prepare for concrete measures that can be supported by the people to make our country a more mature member of international society.
*The writer is the dean of the College of Social Sciences at Sookmyung Women’s University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Hong Kyu-dok