Thank you to President Kim Kyung-Hee and Executive Director Shin Bo- Young for this invitation today. I had the pleasure of meeting many of you at a get-together we had at the Residence last fall and have been looking forward to speaking to the Association’s broader membership ever since.
As prominent journalists, I’d like to thank you for the incredibly important work you do in support of Korea’s democracy every day. We at the U.S. Embassy have a deep respect for your commitment to upholding journalistic integrity. That’s why I’m here today.
It’s an exciting time in the U.S.-ROK bilateral relationship. This year marks the 70th anniversary of our alliance, and we are proud of how it has transformed into a vast global strategic partnership. As we start to think about the year ahead, I want to take a few minutes to talk about everything that’s happened since our presidents met last year.
When President Biden arrived in Seoul just ten days after President Yoon’s inauguration, they issued a joint statement outlining the way forward for our bilateral relationship. The statement included dozens of very specific tasks designed to strengthen our shared security and prosperity, while helping others beyond our shores do the same. Let me give you a few examples. Our presidents decided to reactivate the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group. The reactivated group provides the forum we need for our conversations about how to protect the Republic of Korea from escalating threats from the DPRK, and we continue discussion on how to strengthen extended deterrence even further. Our Presidents committed to discuss the expansion of combined military exercises, and now we have a more robust joint training plan for the year to come. They said we should deploy strategic U.S. military assets as needed, and an aircraft carrier that arrived in Busan last September elected to stay nearby to display the United States’ security commitment in the wake of the DPRK’s additional missile launches. We also conducted a combined U.S.-ROK show of air power and surface missile launch capability in response to those provocations. All of these concrete steps ensure the security of both the Korean and American people.
Our Presidents also laid out specific measures to strengthen economic security. When the met last May, our leaders agreed to deepen and broaden cooperation on critical and emerging technologies through the launch of an economic security dialogue. The ESD as we call it took place in November and covered shared energy policy priorities, including nuclear power, renewables, and advanced battery supply chains. Our private sector is equally engaged in economic security. Seven American companies – to include those in the semiconductor industry, the EV and battery sector, the onshore wind farm market, and logistics pledged over a billion dollars to strengthen U.S.-ROK collaboration to enhance industry supply chains.
In the last nine months since our presidents gave us our marching orders, we launched the East Asia Semiconductor Supply Chain Work Group together with the ROK, Japan, and Taiwan. The “Fab Four” as it’s known is a multilateral dialogue aimed at limiting bottlenecks in semiconductor supply chains, investing in workforce development, and promoting more diverse supply chains for these critical components. The ROK also joined the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an ambitious initiative to secure critical supply chains, promote a digital economy, address climate change, reduce corruption, and improve labor and environmental standards in economies throughout the region.
Presidents Biden and Yoon promised to bolster our cooperation across all sectors of space cooperation through the third U.S.-ROK Civil Space Dialogue, which was held two months ago. Experts from our two countries discussed sustainable use of outer space, space policy and governance, commercial space activities, space technology, satellite navigation systems, and Earth observation. It was so productive that they agreed to continue the dialogue this year.
We’re moving forward on every due-out from last spring’s presidential meeting. Three examples include:
- Working together to address sourcing and processing of critical minerals. Within a month, Korea joined the Minerals Security Partnership to diversify source materials for key technologies.
- Advancing global and regional health security and building on successful health sector collaboration.
- The third is our work deepening cooperation on cybersecurity by limiting DPRK revenue from cryptocurrency theft and reinforcing information technology protections.
Our leaders wanted to demonstrate shared commitment to a global comprehensive strategic alliance firmly rooted in the values of promoting democracy and the rules-based international order, fighting corruption, and advancing human rights. Korea’s willingness to co-host the upcoming Summit for Democracy here in Seoul does just that. As does the country’s decision to join the U.S. and 60 other partners around the world in endorsing the Declaration for the Future of the Internet to defend human rights and ensure the free flow of information. So too has Korea’s announcement of its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which aligns with our own strategy in the region.
They said we should increase cooperation with Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island Countries to promote sustainable development, energy security, and high-quality, transparent investment, including in infrastructure. In September, the United States Agency for International Development and ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a three-year development cooperation agreement to make good on that pledge.
Fulfilling commitments like these has a real benefit for both Koreans and Americans, as well as others across the globe. So while I can’t tell you when our two presidents will meet next, what I will say is that as journalists – when it happens, take note of what they pledge to pursue going forward. I encourage you to keep track of what’s promised and hold us to account. If we don’t deliver, tell us where we’re falling short and ask why. The U.S.-ROK global strategic partnership is expanding so fast and in so many directions that it’s a challenge to capture the full scope of our cooperation, but if anyone can do it, the press can.
Thanks again and I look forward to your questions.