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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 1)

All News 09:06 July 01, 2017

Ironclad alliance
Moon's visit reaffirms strength of Korea-US ties

The first Korea-U.S. summit since President Moon Jae-in's inauguration took place in Washington, D.C. Friday evening amid mounting concerns over the two countries' differences about security and trade issues. Moon's first overseas trip ended a long break in summit diplomacy owing to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye in December 2016.

The two leaders first met at a friendly dinner at the White House ahead of the summit with first ladies Kim Jung-sook and Melania Trump also present. Regardless of the outcome, Moon's first U.S. visit is meaningful in that the two leaders have started to get to know each other and build mutual trust, which is crucial for strengthening security and economic cooperation.

The visit was also significant in that it reminded the peoples of the two countries of the history of the ironclad alliance. It was a good choice for Moon to start his U.S. visit at a Korean War memorial for the U.S. veterans of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, also known here as the Jangjin Lake Campaign, which took place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 13, 1950. One of the decisive battles of the Korean War enabled the Hungnam Evacuation, a major U.S. military evacuation of civilians. Moon's parents were among the 14,000 refugees on the SS Meredith Victory who were transported to South Korea from the North Korean port of Hungnam.

The U.S. Marine Corps posted a live video of Moon's visit to the memorial on its Facebook page, which was met with thousands of comments from Americans, many of whom had family members who served in the 1950-53 Korean War. One American commented: "My dad served in the First Marine Division at the Chosin. It is gratifying to hear the President of Korea recognize their tremendous service."

Moon's emotional speech highlighted the special bond of the two countries established during the Korean War. "The ROK-U.S. alliance was forged in blood in the fire of war like this. It is not an alliance forged simply by signing several papers. As is the case with my life, the alliance between Seoul and Washington is strongly linked to the life of every single person on both sides," Moon said. "Because of that, I have no doubt about the future of the ROK-U.S. alliance."

The two leaders have some differing views on how to deal with North Korea's increasing military provocations. Lately, a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery has become a contentious issue between the two countries due to Moon's reluctance for its deployment without proper domestic procedures. Trump also wants new negotiations on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, claiming that the existing one has killed U.S. jobs.

Despite these complexities in bilateral issues, the two countries share a common goal for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. They should work together continuously to develop the Korea-U.S. alliance into a greater and stronger one.

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