It should no be surprising that the incoming President of Korea Park Geun-hye is a strong supporter of the US-ROK alliance, but that doesn’t mean that Washington is going to have an easy time getting the changes to the alliance that they may try and advocate for:
South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye said Wednesday she will work closely with the United States to further upgrade the traditional alliance with Washington and to smoothly resolve pending issues based on mutual trust.
Park made the remark during a meeting with a delegation of senior U.S. officials led by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, saying the alliance with Washington helped make South Korea what it is today. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the alliance.
“Looking back, I believe one of the most important elements behind the peace and prosperity” of South Korea was “the strong Korea-U.S. alliance,” Park said. “Freedom and economic development that we enjoy now was not granted for free. They are the result of South Korea and the United States working together and overcoming challenges and difficulties together.”
The two sides should upgrade their ties to a “comprehensive strategic alliance of the 21st century,” she said. [Yonhap]
You can read the rest at the link, but one of the key issues that need to be resolved is that the South Koreans want to be allowed to enrich uranium and reprocess spent atomic fuel. The treaty preventing the Koreans from doing this will soon run out and the US is likely to want the Koreans to renew the accord. You can read details about this issue at the below link:
Another issue of interest is that the US wants the Koreans to agree to increase their share of the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance from 42% to 50%. I have always felt that this is the fair percentage each side should pay:
It is also important to note that the Koreans also get a discount as it is on their share of the upkeep because they can use goods instead of cash to pay their share. It will be interesting to see if this is something the US side will allow the Korean side to continue as part of the cost sharing negotiations.