U.S.-South Korea alliance remains strong after 70 years

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The United States and Republic of Korea in 2023 are commemorating 70 years of an alliance established in the aftermath of the Korean War.

America and the Republic of Korea became formal allies officially in 1953 following the signing of a Mutual Defense Treaty that continues to this day.

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“That bond was first forged through blood and sacrifice. Nearly, 200,000 New Jerseyans risked their lives to defend South Korea’s freedom and sadly 589 paid the ultimate price,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Through the crucible of war our relationship has deepened and grown to touch every aspect of our lives over the past seven decades.”

Representing this partnership and in celebration of the 70-year alliance, the Korea Society, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based out of New York, and partner Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York created a conference held at the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs on May 19.

“As the war in Ukraine has made painfully clear, now is the time to strengthen our bonds with our closest allies and reaffirm our commitments to one another,” Murphy said. “So, we all remain steadfast in our friendship and unwavering in our support for the people of the Republic of Korea. I pledge to work to bring us even closer in the years to come.”

Murphy noted through economic ties is one area the state and Republic of Korea can strengthen their relationship.

The conference examined the origin and future of U.S.-Korea Alliance and roles of Korean Americans in that relationship inside the Syngman Rhee Lecture Hall named after South Korea’s first president, who obtained a doctorate from Princeton University.

“Our alliance has indeed come a very long way since it was forged. By the dawn of the 21st Century, the ROK-U.S. relationship emerged from a security focused alliance to an economic partnership bolstered by the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement,” said Park Jin, Minister of Foreign Affairs for South Korea.

Jin shared that the relationship has further expanded into a global comprehensive strategic alliance under President Yoon Suk Yeol and President Joe Biden’s leadership.

“In the face of North Korea’s ever growing nuclear and missile threat, the security pillar of the alliance was upgraded through the Washington Declaration. [The declaration] dramatically strengthens deterrence against North Korea,” he said. “It is perhaps one of the most strategic documents to be adopted by our two countries since the Mutual Defense Treaty.”

The alliance now applies to cyberspace, outer space, deepening people to people ties and education, and improves economic security, according to Jin.

“It goes without saying that first support of the United States has been crucial to the prosperity that Korea has achieved today. The ROK – U.S. Alliance over the past 70 years has created a decisive momentum for Korea to prosper as a free country,” Consul General Euy Whan Kim said.

The United States currently has 28,500 military personnel who are stationed in South Korea.

“I sincerely thank the United States for sacrificing over 36,000 precious lives to protect Korea during the Korean War. We are well aware our ROK – U.S. Alliance has never been easy to create.”

Kim praised President Rhee for his efforts in making South Korea the only free democratic country on the East Asian Continent to exist and his penetration of Communism.

“I hope the ROK-U.S. Alliance will be even stronger over the next 70 years just as the last 70 years have led to the prosperity of a free Korea,” he added.

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