As South Korea’s leader vows to stand with Trump ahead of their meeting on Thursday, an editorial in English edition of the Korean daily Hankyoreh this week expresses hopes that this moment is an opportunity for the Republic of Korea to take the lead in peninsula affairs. The US-ROK alliance, Yonsei University professor Choi Jong-kun argues, is not the exclusive domain of those who are “naturally sympathetic to all things American.”

Choi describes “the real face of Korean experts in Seoul and Washington”:

“This network effectively determines the success or failure of the alliance. More strictly speaking, their attitudes can cause a complete reversal of how the South Korea-US alliance is viewed. The idea that South Korea and the US had poor relations during the Roh Moo-hyun administration, for example, is a narrative that these experts have concocted. They hold that bilateral cooperation faltered and that the alliance was weakened. If that’s true, how did the two countries reach a free trade agreement and why did South Korea dispatch the third-largest ground force to the war in Iraq of any country? How could Ban Ki-moon, then South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have become UN Secretary-General without American support? The flip side of their argument that bilateral cooperation faltered and that the alliance was weakened is that the Roh administration espoused opinions that were in the interest of South Korea but in conflict with US views and that its negotiators tried to bring about mutually beneficial results. This means, in short, that the South Korean government did not kowtow to the US.”