South Korean presidential advisor Moon Chung-in says US Forces Korea presence is advisable “even after a peace treaty is signed”

Posted on : 2018-05-05 14:56 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Presidential special advisor says there will naturally be debate about USFK if Korea denuclearization and peace are achieved
Moon Chung-in
Moon Chung-in

Moon Chung-in, professor emeritus at Yonsei University and a special advisor to President Moon Jae-in on unification, foreign affairs and national security, asserted his support for the US troop presence in South Korea in an attempt to calm the controversy he had provoked by publishing a column in the US journal Foreign Affairs about the withdrawal of US troops.

“Even after a peace treaty is signed, I think it is advisable for US troops to remain stationed in South Korea for strategic stability in Northeast Asia and for political stability inside South Korea,” Moon told reporters in Manhattan, New York, on May 3. Yonhap News reported that he made the comments in a conversation with South Korean foreign correspondents immediately following a closed-door meeting that was organized by the New York chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council.

“What will happen to US forces in South Korea if a peace treaty is signed? It will be difficult to justify their continuing presence in South Korea after its adoption. But there will be strong conservative opposition to the reduction and withdrawal of US forces, posing a major political dilemma for Moon,” Moon Chung-in wrote in an article titled “A Real Path to Peace on the Korean Peninsula” that was published in Foreign Affairs on Apr. 30.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in responded to this by saying that US Forces Korea are a matter concerning the South Korea-US alliance and are completely unrelated to the signing of a peace treaty, and President Moon’s Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok conveyed this position to Moon Chung-in.

Moon Chung-in offered the following explanation of his article in Foreign Affairs: “If a peace treaty is signed on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea denuclearizes, and North Korea and the US establish diplomatic relations, there will naturally be a debate about whether or not US troops should remain in South Korea, and South Korea’s conservatives will be very critical [of that debate]. The point of my article was that we need to get ready for that in advance. I have never advocated the withdrawal of American troops.”

During the meeting of the National Unification Advisory Council in New York, Moon Chung-in related “something interesting” he had heard from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom Moon had visited prior to the meeting. “Kissinger said that if the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized, a peace treaty is signed and North Korea and the US establish diplomatic relations, there will naturally be a discussion inside the US about whether the US troop presence in South Korea should be maintained. But if South Korea wants them, Kissinger said, the US will keep troops there. The crux is whether an agreement can be reached inside South Korea,” Moon was quoted as saying by people who attended the meeting.

By Hwang Joon-bum, staff reporter

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