RELEASE: Bridging the Divide in the U.S.-South Korea Alliance

Washington, D.C. — For the U.S.-South Korea alliance to be most effective, the two countries must strive to understand one another—and progressives must find common ground on key challenges, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

South Korea is one of the United States’ most important allies and a key partner when it comes to dealing with North Korea, the growing challenges posed by China, and many other regional and global issues. The report provides a window into how progressives in Seoul and Washington view the alliance as 2021 begins and makes recommendations for how both countries can advance shared interests in the coming year as the new U.S. administration takes office.

“It is critical for progressive and conservative policymakers on both sides of the alliance to forge consensus on key issues and bridge the divide where necessary,” said Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the report. “The U.S.-South Korea alliance is vital to both countries in terms of not only dealing with the threat posed by North Korea but also for its potential to tackle broader regional and global challenges.”

The report recommends that over the next year, the alliance should focus on a handful of concrete policy initiatives that can advance shared interests and address some of the underlying disagreements:

  • Create a joint U.S.-South Korea road map for diplomacy with North Korea.
  • The United States should open a more senior, regular communication channel with North Korea.
  • The United States and South Korea should work together to provide COVID-19 assistance to North Korea.
  • The United States and South Korea should work together on building public health capacity, such as strengthening the World Health Organization, ensuring fair vaccine distribution, sharing pandemic-related lessons, and providing public health assistance to developing countries.
  • The United States should work with South Korea to develop a strategy for dealing with China, from trade issues and Chinese technology companies to China’s human rights violations against Uighur Muslims.

Read the report: “Bridging the Divide in the U.S.-South Korea Alliance” by Michael Fuchs and Haneul Lee

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202-478-6327.