By Jianli Yang & Yonghun Kim – April 26, 2023

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in Washington this week for his first state visit to the United States. He met with President Joe Biden, is to deliver a speech at Harvard University, and address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Although he will be one of America’s most well-received world leaders, the trip will be a difficult test for Yoon.

More than at any time in recent history, the specter of a nuclear exchange hangs over humanity. South Korea depends on the United States as its main security ally against a de facto nuclear North Korea. To complicate matters, the South also relies on China as its largest trading partner. China, in turn, is not only North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s main enabler; it has become increasingly aggressive and coercive toward its democratic neighbors.

Over the past two decades, many countries have tried to follow the formula of “security dependence on the United States” and “economic dependence on China,” struggling to maneuver between these two superpowers. But as China has become more proactive in using its economic power to bend the world to its will, the formula has become increasingly untenable. Yoon’s presidency heralds a shift in policy. During Biden’s visit to Seoul last May, Yoon described the U.S.–South Korean partnership as an “economic security” alliance, emphasizing that “the economy is security, and security is the economy.”… [Continue Reading]