Tag Archive | "election 2016"

Despite Questions Raised in Campaign, Americans Remain Supportive of Troops in South Korea

By Juni Kim

Although not a focal point of the ongoing presidential campaigns, U.S. policy regarding the Korean peninsula has come up from time to time with both major party candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. With scant information on American public opinion regarding Korea and its importance, a recent survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs provides valuable insights into public views. Part of the survey, which was conducted from June 10 to June 27 among 2,061 adults, asked Americans about their thoughts on the U.S. military in South Korea, the North Korean threat, and South Korea’s influence in the world.

Multiples times earlier in the election campaign, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump questioned the U.S. military commitment to South Korea and other U.S. allies. Despite Mr. Trump’s comments that he would be willing to withdraw U.S. troops from the peninsula, the survey shows that 70 percent of Americans support a long-term U.S. military presence in South Korea, while 72 percent of Trump supporters also favor U.S. military bases in South Korea.

American support for U.S. bases in South Korea also ranked higher than overall support for a U.S. military presence in Australia (46 percent), Germany (61 percent), and Japan (60 percent), which were the three other countries asked about in the survey. Trump supporters are higher than the overall average for all four countries in support of long-term U.S. military bases abroad.

Chicago Council Numbers

The higher support for U.S. troops in South Korea compared to the other  countries asked about in the survey may be related to the perceived North Korean threat to the United States. Survey respondents were asked to list what they considered was a critical threat to American vital interests in the next 10 years, and North Korea made the top five list for Democrats, Republicans, independents, and core Trump supporters. In particular, North Korea was the second most listed threat for Democrats at 64% behind international terrorism, which was the most listed threat for all surveyed groups. With most Americans viewing North Korea as a significant threat, the higher support for U.S. military bases in South Korea compared to other U.S. allies is unsurprising.

American opinions of South Korea’s global influence have remained relatively unchanged in recent years. When asked to rate South Korea’s influence on a 0 to 10 scale (with 0 meaning not at all influential and 10 meaning extremely influential), survey respondents rated South Korea 4.6. This rating is roughly in line with South Korea’s previous ratings of 4.7 (2014), 4.4 (2012), and 4.7 (2010) in previous iterations of the survey. South Korea’s rating may be a far cry from global powers like the United States (8.5) and China (7.1), but it is similar to the ratings of India (4.8) and Iran (4.5). Although not included in the survey, a comparison of South Korea’s ratings to regional neighbors like Japan and Taiwan or other middle power nations would have been interesting to see how American perceptions of these nations differ.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

Photo from UNC – CFC – USFK on flickr Creative Commons.

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The Korean-American Vote: Update on the 2016 Presidential Election

By Junil Kim

Earlier this year, we examined Korean-American voting preferences and the importance of the Korean-American vote in the years to come. A May 2016 survey conducted by three Asian American NGOs showed a significant preference by Korean-Americans for the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. However, the survey also showed that Clinton only garnered 29 percent of the intended primary vote among Korean-Americans. Now, the newly released Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey (NAAS) shows that Clinton has strengthened her support among Korean-American voters since the previous survey.

The May survey, which consisted of telephone interviews with 1,212 registered voters from April 11 to May 17, 2016, reported that 60 percent of Korean-American voters had a favorable view of Hillary Clinton, with 37 percent holding an unfavorable view of the presidential candidate. The NAAS, which interviewed 1,955 registered voters from August 10 to September 29, 2016, showed that Korean-American voters largely maintained their views of the Democratic nominee, with 58 percent of Korean-American voters indicating they had a favorable view of Clinton and 41 percent indicating an unfavorable view. The overall 3.5 percent margin of error of the NAAS and the 3 percent margin of error of the earlier survey shows that the favorability ratings have essentially remained unchanged since this spring.

Korean-American voters also generally retained their unfavorable views of Donald Trump. The May survey indicated that 80 percent of Korean-American voters held an unfavorable view of the Republican nominee and only 10 percent of voters held a favorable view. The NAAS shows a slight uptick in both ratings, with 84 percent of Korean-American voters holding an unfavorable view and 12 percent holding a favorable view.

The primary vote choice results reported in the NAAS suggest that Clinton has taken advantage of her favorable ratings among Korean-American voters since this spring. The earlier survey, which occurred in the latter half of the primary season, reported that 29 percent of Korean-American voters had voted or planned on voting for Hillary Clinton in state primaries. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders garnered 20 percent of the expected primary vote, Republican candidate Ted Cruz held 12 percent, and Donald Trump held 7 percent of the Korean-American vote. In addition, 32 percent of Korean-American voters also indicated they had voted or would vote for “someone else.” The NAAS, which occurred after both Clinton and Trump secured their respective party’s nomination, reported that Clinton actually garnered a much larger share of the Korean-American vote with 68 percent of voters saying they cast ballots for Clinton during the primaries.

Korean Americans Graph 1

Clinton’s sizable increase in her voting share among Korean-Americans raises questions about how she secured greater support. Although some initial Sanders supporters may have switched to Clinton, this does not completely account for the substantial difference in support from the earlier survey results. The likely primary source is from the 32 percent of Korean-American voters in May that reported their primary candidate choice was “someone else.” The option “someone else” likely indicated undecided or uncertain voters, and Clinton’s strong showing in the primary results may be due to the consolidation of these voters.

This gravitation by Korean-American voters to Clinton is also clear in their reported presidential vote choice. Clinton currently eclipses Trump by a massive 61 points among Korean-American voters, which shows a slight uptick in Clinton support among Korean-Americans compared to the primary results. Compared to Americans in general, Korean-American support for Clinton and Trump dramatically differs. In the latest four way RealClearPolitics polling average, Clinton’s holds 44 percent of the general vote and Trump holds nearly 40 percent.

Korean Americans Graph 2

As mentioned in our earlier blog, Korean-American voters and Asian-American voters in general are unlikely to swing the upcoming presidential election, but the rapid population growth of Korean-Americans in swing states like Florida, Nevada, and Virginia will make their vote increasingly important to political candidates. Although the latest survey results show immense Korean-American support for Clinton, the majority of Korean-Americans in the last presidential election did not identify with the Democratic Party and Korean-Americans still self-identify more as conservative than liberal. In an analysis of the 2012 presidential election, Dr. Taeku Lee noted the steady shift of Korean-American voters towards Democratic candidates over the past 20 years and that the GOP would have to moderate their views on issues like health care and immigration to earn a larger share of the Korean-American vote. The 2016 presidential race has done little to break the trend of growing Democratic support among Korean-American and other Asian-American voters, and future Republican nominees would be prudent to consider the importance of their vote.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

Photos from US Embassy New Zealand and Gage Skidmore on flickr Creative Commons.

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Misconceptions About Trade Dominate the First Presidential Debate

By Phil Eskeland

Last night’s debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump highlights trade as a top tier political issue in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.  In past general election presidential debates, trade was barely mentioned.  This time, trade was front and center.

With recent polling showing more Americans, particularly Republicans, souring on international trade, it was no surprise that GOP nominee Donald Trump immediately launched into a diatribe against trade, blaming past trade agreements for the reason why U.S. companies like Ford and Carrier are moving some production to Mexico and other nations during the first question on how to achieve prosperity.  In the debate, Trump’s solution to stem offshoring is to reduce taxes on businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent as a way to incentivize U.S. companies to build and expand operations in the United States, along with renegotiating our trade deals.  Later on, when the debate moderator pressed Donald Trump on how he would bring back industries that have left the United States, he responded by saying he would impose a new tax on products being brought back into this country on companies that have moved operations overseas.  While Hillary Clinton recognized the importance of trade, her response primarily focused on criticizing all of Trump’s tax plan as “trumped-up trickle-down.”  She also said she would appoint a “special prosecutor” to enforce current trade deals.  Donald Trump also pressed Hillary Clinton for her reversal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because she had previously said it set the “gold standard” in trade agreements when she was Secretary of State.  She responded that she opposed the TPP once the agreement was finally negotiated and the terms were specifically laid out.

Unfortunately, neither candidate expressed the complete set of facts about trade.  First, a study conducted by the non-partisan U.S. International Trade Commission, which has the mission of enforcing our nation’s “fair trade” laws, concluded U.S. trade agreements that have entered into force since 1984 resulted in net positive benefits to the United States:  exports have increased by 3.6 percent; the economy grew  by 0.2 percent; employment grew by 0.1 percent; wages grew by 0.3 percent; and the U.S. trade balance improved by $87.5 billion.  In other words, without these trade agreements, our economy and jobs would have suffered.

Second, the Reshoring Initiative documented in a study released last March that “the bleeding of manufacturing jobs to offshore has stopped.”  As compared to the 2000-2003 annual average, new offshoring in 2015 decreased by 75 percent while U.S. companies bringing back production to the U.S. (otherwise known as “reshoring”) and new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by overseas firms increased by 400 percent.  So, while opponents of trade may cite one or two examples of a U.S. company that is moving production overseas, statistics show that the trend is in the opposite direction.  For example, a 1.5 million square foot state-of-the-art facility in Clarksville, Tennessee, built by an $800 million investment from Hankook Tire of Korea, will soon be making tires for the U.S. market later this year, employing about 1,600 Americans.

What are the reasons for the reversal in this offshoring trend?  Many analysts focus on falling energy costs in the U.S., resulting in lower production and transportation costs; the growing desire for companies to be closer to their customers, to prevent supply chain interruptions; and a stronger U.S. dollar.  But one additional factor that often gets overlooked is that starting in 2010, the domestic manufacturing tax deduction (Section 199 of the Internal Revenue Service code) was finally fully phased-in.  Section 199 replaced another tax incentive for U.S. exporters that was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002.  This reshoring incentive provides all companies a 9 percent tax deduction on all their U.S. domestic production.  The deduction is estimated to be economically equivalent to a 3 percentage point reduction in a company’s tax rate for operations in America.  Thus, the more production that takes place in the U.S., the greater the tax incentive for the company.

Does the positive news about trade mean that globalization works for every American?  Regrettably, no.  That’s why the U.S. government offers trade adjustment assistance to workers and companies to train them to transition out of an import-sensitive industry into another line of business.  Plus, for those workers over the age of 50 who earn less than $50,000 a year in their new job after they lost their previous employment due to imports, they are eligible to receive a $10,000 wage supplement for up to two years.  The key is to make sure that those few who are injured by imports are helped while not turning off the benefits of globalization to the overall U.S. economy.  The U.S. should not erect various protectionist barriers that contravene the rules of trade that were first established under U.S. leadership in the post-World War II international economic framework.

Unfortunately, the debate last night shed more heat than light on this emotionally-charged issue of trade.  Hopefully, in future debates, the complete facts about international trade and the role of trade agreements, along with information about how to help those adjust out of an import-sensitive job, will become part of the public discourse.  If we really want to keep production in America, let’s not raise the price of imported goods to U.S. consumers who are already on a tight budget.  Let’s discuss increasing the domestic manufacturing tax deduction.

Phil Eskeland is Executive Director for Operations and Policy at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own. 

Photo from Dirk Dallas’ photostream on flickr Creative Commmons.

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Pyongyang’s Pick: Why North Korea Endorses U.S. Presidential Candidates

By Kyle Ferrier

Earlier this year North Korea made headlines when a state-run tourism website endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump only a few weeks after the billionaire stated he would speak with Kim Jong-un. The piece featured in the state tourism website DPRK Today praised Trump as “wise” and “far-sighted,” directly referencing his openness to remove U.S. troops from South Korea, stay out of another possible civil war on the Peninsula, and hold talks with Kim Jong-un. While the article might provide some insight into what the regime is looking to get out of a new U.S. president, North Korea’s unpredictable behavior and a corresponding proclivity for hollow statements make any conclusions drawn from this piece alone tenuous at best. Yet, this is not the only time in recent history that Pyongyang has chimed in on U.S. presidential elections. Placing North Korea’s support for Trump alongside endorsements in recent election years, as well as when one is conspicuously missing, suggests the trigger for an endorsement is the prospect for direct bilateral talks.

2004: Kerry vs. Bush

George W. Bush’s designation of North Korea as a member of his “axis of evil” in early 2002 was emblematic of the strained relations between the two states as well as his hardline stance on the nuclear issue. When he faced re-election in 2004 it was hardly surprising that Pyongyang favored his Democratic opponent, John Kerry. Though both presidential candidates were committed to North Korean denuclearization, they differed on approaches to the negotiation process. Kerry favored direct bilateral talks with North Korea within the Six Party Talks framework, while Bush saw this as granting excessive bargaining power to Kim Jong-il. North Korea made their opinion all but official as early as February 2004 when state media aired a number of statements made by Senator Kerry as well as praise for his commitment for a more “sincere attitude” towards North Korea and his criticism of President Bush’s unwillingness for direct dialogue.[1]

2008: Obama vs. McCain

As senators Barack Obama and John McCain vied for the presidency in 2008, the North Korean political machine seemed to prefer Bush’s eventual successor. While both candidates espoused their commitment to denuclearization, the key difference was again on holding direct talks with North Korean leaders. McCain criticized Obama’s willingness to meet with Kim Jong-il, while Obama attributed the expansion of the DPRK nuclear program to unwillingness of the Bush administration to engage in bilateral talks.

Although a North Korean government organization may not have publicly backed Obama, an endorsement came from an organization closest to being an official arm of the state. In June 2008 the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, more commonly known as the Chosen Soren or the Chongryon, published an article in the “echo” section of their newspaper, containing articles reflective of official DPRK opinions, which asserted Obama would be the better president. The article praised Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration and his willingness to meet with Kim Jong-il without conditions, calling McCain “a children’s version of Bush.” Despite this condemnation of McCain, the authors concluded the U.S. would have no choice but to seek improved relations with North Korea even if even if the Arizona Senator was elected, a notion which proved to be quite far removed from reality.

2016: Clinton vs. Trump

North Korea’s comments on Donald Trump earlier this year were arguably the most straightforward endorsement, coinciding with the largest break between how each candidate would approach the security situation on the Korean Peninsula in recent history. Whereas Clinton’s remarks suggest she would pursue at least somewhat similar policies as the Obama administration, Trump’s statements on removing U.S. military forces from South Korea if Seoul does not increase their contribution to the military burden sharing arrangement and possibly offering nuclear weapons to South Korea represent a radical divergence from Obama. While Pyongyang’s preference this election cycle could be interpreted as a continuation of the 2004 and 2008 trend to support the candidate who distanced himself the most from the previous administration, the timing of this year’s endorsement reinforces talks as the core of their interests.

As early as July last year Donald Trump questioned the foundations of U.S. military presence in South Korea on economic grounds and in March this year he was first publically open to the idea of South Korea and Japan becoming nuclear weapon states so that the U.S. could decrease its military presence in the region, yet it was not until just after Trump expressed his willingness to speak with Kim Jong-un on May 17 that North Korea voiced their support. The Kim regime’s apparent preference for bilateral engagement prospects above all else is further bolstered by the lack of enthusiasm for either Obama or Mitt Romney in 2012, both of which did not advocate for direct talks, Obama having been burned by the Leap Day Deal and Romney criticizing Obama for not being tough enough on the rogue state.

Significance for 2017

Why does this apparent preference for talks matter, especially as direct dialogue between the U.S. and DPRK continues to be so far out of reach? Despite backing his call for dialogue, North Korea’s approach towards Obama at the onset of his presidency—attempting their first “satellite launch” and testing a second nuclear device soon after he was inaugurated—rather unsurprisingly suggested a lack of interest in actual talks. However, this experience in 2009 could indicate that a candidate’s openness to talks during campaign season may be interpreted as North Korea’s desire to test a more dovish candidate’s mettle early in an administration or an opportunity to exploit perceived slack offered by U.S. leadership, providing a window for increased provocative behavior, not direct talks.

If this is indeed part of North Korea’s calculus when choosing a candidate, it is particularly disconcerting for this election cycle. In early 2009, Obama was forced into a much tougher stance on North Korea, coordinating international pressure against the Kim regime rather than bilateral meetings. If faced with similar or possibly worse circumstances in early 2017, would Trump play his cards as his predecessor did or fold and walk away from the table? Even if he were to push back against regime in reality, campaign rhetoric resulting in the perception that he would completely abandon longstanding U.S. policy norms in Asia could encourage much more aggressive North Korean activity right from the start of his presidency. In a worst case scenario it would not be a war of words, but a conflict caused by a misunderstanding of the importance of words.

Kyle Ferrier is the Director of Academic Affairs and Research at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). Korean sources utilized in this post were translated by Jiwon Nam, an intern at KEI. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Image designed by Jenna Gibson, KEI’s Director of Communications from images on the photostreams of the Center for American Progress, Gage Skidmore, and Jason Means.

[1] This comes from the March 5, 2004 Financial Times article “North Korea warms to senator’s US presidency bid” written by Andrew Ward and James Harding. The article is no longer searchable on the Financial Times website and was accessed through the Financial Times Historical Archive, 1888-2010

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Implications for Korea of the platform of U.S. political parties – Part II: A look at the Democratic platform

By Phil Eskeland

Last week, we looked at the Republican Party platform.  This week, the Democratic Party is meeting to nominate its candidate for president and vice president.  Part of the agenda for the convention includes formal approval of the party platform.  As mentioned in the previous post, candidates are not bound by the platform, but it can provide insight into the policy priorities of the respective parties in order to motivate voters to pull the lever for their candidate.

As with the GOP document, the 2016 Democrat party platform also contains provisions as it relates to South Korea and the rest of Asia.  In the section entitled “Principled Leadership,” several sentences are included to reaffirm the importance of allies as an indirect retort to some of the statements from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.  “We are stronger when we work with our partners and allies, rather than try to go it alone.   Our global network of alliances is not a burden – it is a source of tremendous strategic advantage…With American leadership, guided by our principles, and in concert with our allies and partners, the coming years can be the most stable, secure, and prosperous time we and the world have ever known.”  Similar language about maintaining strong alliances was also in the 2012 document.  “The great dangers we face…cannot be solved by any one nation alone.  Addressing these challenges requires broad and effective global cooperation.  And President Obama and the Democratic Party understand that this depends on close collaboration with our traditional allies…”

To reinforce this theme, there is another section in the 2016 platform, now entitled, “A Leader in the World,” that focuses on different regions, including Asia-Pacific.  However, the 2016 version is much shorter than the three major paragraphs contained in the 2012 Democratic platform.  The current platform states that “…[W]e will deepen our relationships in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand…Democrats will push back against North Korean aggression…”   This is different from the more robust policy language written in 2012 that spoke about the U.S. as a Pacific power; America’s future security and prosperity is fundamentally interconnect with Asia; the U.S. remains committed to defending and deepening our partnerships with our allies in the region; and maintaining a strong presence in Japan and on the Korean Peninsula to deter and defend against provocations by states like North Korea.

Second, the 2016 Democratic platform retains a paragraph, now under the section entitled, “Confronting Global Threats,” on North Korea.  While the 2012 document again resembles more of a short public policy statement (“President Obama will also continue to confront North Korea…with a stark choice:  take verifiable steps toward denuclearization or face increasing isolation and costs…[T]he President has made clear that the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea accountable…”), the 2016 platform contains more vivid and politically-pointed language.  “North Korea is perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator…Yet Donald Trump praises North Korea’s dictator, threatens to abandon our treaty allies, Japan and South Korea; and encourages the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region…Democrats will protect American and our allies, press China to restrain North Korea, and sharpen the choices for Pyongyang to compel it to abandon its illegal nuclear and missile programs.”

However, as with the GOP platform, the section on trade has drawn the most attention.  In 2012, the Democratic Party platform included two paragraphs in the economic section entitled, “Opening Markets All Over the World for American Products.”  Those paragraphs highlighted President Obama’s accomplishments in signing into law “new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that will support tens of thousands of private-sector jobs, but not before he strengthened these agreements.”  The 2012 document goes on express the Democrat’s commitment to “finding more markets for American-made goods—including using the Trans-Pacific Partnership…”

In contrast, the 2016 Democrat platform expresses deep pessimism regarding the overall efficacy of past free trade agreements.  The section is now entitled, “Promoting Trade that is Fair and Benefits American Workers.”  The five paragraphs begin with the acknowledgment that “…global trade has failed to live up to its promise…Over the past three decades, America has signed too many trade deals that have not lived up to the hype…We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies that support jobs in America…[W]e should review agreements negotiated years ago to update them to reflect these principles.”  The 2016 document reveals that it is the priority of Democrats to “significantly strengthen enforcement of existing trade rules and the tools we have, including holding countries accountable on currency manipulation and significantly expanding enforcement resources.”  Previously, the 2012 Democratic platform called for simultaneously negotiating new trade agreements as well as fighting unfair trade practices and assisting negatively trade-affected workers.  Now, the emphasis in the 2016 document is on trade enforcement.  This language should not be surprising.   It follows a similar pattern when the priority was placed on policing existing trade agreements before negotiating new deals during the early years of the Obama Administration.   In fact, the 2016 Democratic platform states that “we will oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security.”  The paragraph goes on to list a series of other conditions (labor, environment, enforcement, unfair subsidies, promotion of innovation and lifesaving medicines, and open Internet) that should be included in future trade agreements.

The trade section of the 2016 Democratic platform now concludes with a statement that “these are the standards Democrats believe must be applied to all trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”  This revision dropped previous draft language that expressed a diversity of opinion within the party with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  While this may represent a compromise with those who called for the Democratic Party to include a specific sentence in opposition to the TPP in the 2016 platform, the final language, particularly in combination with the above mentioned sentences expressing deep skepticism on trade, represents a significant departure from the 2012 platform.

Similar to the 2016 GOP platform, the Democratic platform has mixed results for Korea – strong language is retained on the importance of alliances; North Korea is singled out as one of three major state-actor threats to the United States; but the section of trade raises serious questions about the ability of the U.S. to negotiate or adopt future trade agreements with other partners.  This is potentially troubling as both major U.S. political parties are becoming more distrustful about the benefits of trade.  As mentioned in the previous post on the GOP platform, Korea has a strong case to make that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) is not the source of the growing bilateral merchandise trade deficit with the United States (not including services).  In fact, a recent comprehensive economic study completed by the U.S. International Trade Commission on all free trade agreements concluded that without the KORUS FTA, the bilateral U.S.-ROK merchandise trade deficit would have been nearly $16 billion higher in 2015.

Regardless, the party platform is not binding on Democratic candidates for office but provides a window into the latest thinking of top Democratic political operatives helping to elect candidates to federal office in the United States.  Nonetheless, the developments in both major U.S. political party platforms expressing profound skepticism about the benefits of trade and the TPP in particular does not bode well, particularly in the near-term future, for prospects to open more markets abroad to a free flow of goods and services unencumbered by tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

Phil Eskeland is Executive Director for Operations and Policy at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own.

Photo from the Disney | ABC Television Group’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.


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Clinton’s Choice of Vice President: Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia

By Donald Manzullo

The day I left Congress in 2013 and became the head of KEI, Governor Tim Kaine was sworn in as a U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I did not have the opportunity to personally work with him on any issue in Congress, but I can share with you some anecdotal statements I have heard about him, his demeanor and style, and also his positions, especially with respect to trade and engagement with the world.

Senator Kaine is one of a handful of members of Congress to have served as a mayor of a major city (Richmond) and as a governor of a state (Virginia).  There is a belief in Washington that former mayors and governors make the best presidents because they have to manage a government body, work within a budget, and cooperate with members of the legislature from both political parties.  When I served in the House of Representatives, I observed that former mayors and governors often held the mindset that they were elected to Congress to help govern the nation and work together to reach consensus and compromise, regardless of party affiliation – a much broader and inclusive perspective than some who prided themselves on merely obstructing the process.

Senator Tim Kaine graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in economics, and while at Harvard Law School, he suspended his studies for one year to live in Honduras, where he worked with the Jesuits to help run a technical school.  He speaks fluent Spanish.  Senator Kaine practiced law for several years, and entered elected office in 1995 when he served on the City Council of Richmond, Virginia.  Three years later, Mr. Kaine was elected Mayor of Richmond (the capital of Virginia), and in 2001, he was elected Lieutenant Governor.  Four years later, he was elected Governor.  In Virginia, all governors are limited to serving just one term, so as his tenure was expiring, Governor Kaine became Chairman of the Democratic  National Committee (DNC), which formulates strategy, raises money and supports Democratic candidate at local state and federal levels.

When incumbent Senator Jim Webb announced his retirement, Governor Kaine quickly jumped into the race and won the seat during the 2012 election.  Even though Governor Kaine was the head of the Democratic Party apparatus, he still kept his reputation for bi-partisanship intact as he won more votes in his Senate race than Barack Obama during his presidential re-election bid in Virginia, even in areas that were previous strongholds for the Republicans.  The Commonwealth of Virginia has shifted in recent years from a reliable Republican or “Red State”[1] to an increasing politically competitive or “Purple State,” making elected officials of either party who win state-wide office appealing candidates for national office. The current governor of Virginia is also a Democrat.  Thus, Senator Kaine was a politically easier choice for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because the other Senators on the “short-list” to be considered as her vice presidential running mate are from states that have Republican governors.[2]  As a result, Senator Kaine’s selection as Clinton’s running mate will not reduce the number of seats in the U.S. Senate currently held by Democrats. Plus, of all the states in the union, Virginia (also called “The Old Dominion State”) is also home to the fourth largest concentration of residents of Korean descent – nearly 71,000.

Exactly who is Tim Kaine and what are his views on international trade and America’s role in the world?  In an interview with the Associated Press, Senator Kaine described himself as a “Harry Truman Democrat,” after he proudly showed off to the reporter an autographed memoir of the nation’s 33rd president.  President Truman’s administration is credited with instituting the post-WWII international order, including the Marshall Plan, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and responding forcefully to counter the unprovoked invasion of the Republic of Korea by North Korea under the auspices of the newly created United Nations.  Senator Kaine said in this interview, “Some people say we’ve [the United States] got to be the indispensable nation.  I just want to be the exemplary nation.  Indispensable sounds like you’re trying to put your nose in everybody else’s business.”

Senator Tim Kaine serves on four committees, including Armed Services and Foreign Relations.  He is the only U.S. Senator to simultaneously sit on both of these key committees.  On Armed Services, he is the senior Democrat on the Readiness Subcommittee and also serves on the Emerging Threats Subcommittee, which deals with North Korea.  The Old Dominion State is host to the immense U.S. naval presence in Norfolk.  In addition, Hampton Road, Virginia is America’s eighth largest port with nearly $72 billion in total trade that traversed through this region in 2015.  Part of that trade includes South Korea. Exports of merchandise goods from Virginia to Korea increased 48 percent since 2011 (the year prior to the implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement or KORUS FTA), reaching $486 million in 2015.  Top Virginia exports to Korea include chemicals (up 81 percent since 2011); food manufactures (up 244 percent); and computer and electronic products (up 355 percent).  In fact, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, Virginia experienced an $89 million trade surplus in merchandise goods with Korea in 2015.

As a result, Senator Kaine has taken several legislative actions that have advanced not only his personal inquisitiveness into international affairs, but also reflects the interests of his state.  He was the Senate author of legislation (S.Con.Res. 20) introduced shortly before the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement to encourage peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.  Earlier this year, he spoke on the Senate floor and voted for legislation to bolster sanctions against North Korea, which resulted in additional actions by the Obama Administration to further isolate the regime.

Of notable interest on trade, Senator Kaine bucked his party leadership last year when he voted to end a parliamentary roadblock to bring up the legislation granting President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks.  Shortly thereafter, he voted in the affirmative on the final version of that bill, which was sent to the President’s desk for his signature.  When he voted for TPA, Senator Kaine said, “I am pleased…the Senate…completed the passage of four related trade bills.  We have given the President the same power to negotiate trade deals that has been provided to every President since 1974. …In a Virginia that was founded to promote trade and that still maintains an aggressive and optimistic global posture, these bills will help our workers, companies and farms find new export customers.”

More recently, Senator Kaine was asked his opinion of the TPP agreement, which was finalized and signed by 12 Asia-Pacific Rim countries, including Japan, Mexico, and Canada, last February.  He stated that there is much in the agreement that he likes with an upgrade in labor and environmental standards, along with enhanced intellectual property protections.  However, he has “significant concerns” regarding the dispute resolution mechanism in the TPP.  With merchandise exports from Virginia having increased by 15 percent to the 12-member TPP region, since 2011 to $6.4 billion, it will be interesting to see if Senator Kaine can retain his overall optimistic position on the TPP.

Presidential tickets are designed to attract the maximum voter support, and the Clinton-Kaine ticket is no exception.  It will be an interesting campaign to see the two spar against the Trump-Pence team.

Donald Manzullo is President and CEO of Korea Economic Institute and former Member of U.S. Congress (1993-2013). The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

[1] Republican candidates for president have won the majority vote in Virginia every cycle since 1952 (excepting 1964) until 2008.

[2] Governors are allowed to appoint an individual (including themselves) to temporarily fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat until the next election cycle when the appointed Senator must run for the office.  Democrat Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker both represent states (Massachusetts and New Jersey, respectively) that have Republican governors.  If Hillary Clinton selected either one of them as her vice presidential nominee, this would have given the opportunity to the Republican governor of that state to appoint a fellow Republican to fill that Senate seat through 2018 if she won the presidency.

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Implications for Korea of the platform of U.S. political parties – Part I: A look at the GOP platform

By Phil Eskeland

There has been much discussion in recent weeks regarding the policy implications of the respective party platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties.  Most of the focus has been on U.S. domestic issues, such as jobs and taxes, but both party platforms contain significant sections on foreign policy, defense, and international trade.

As background, it is important to recognize that party platforms, particularly in recent U.S. political history, are not documents designed to require a presidential candidate to follow a certain policy prescription.  Because of the decreasing role of the political party apparatus, presidential candidates are free to disregard the content of the platform even during the campaign season.

Also, political party platforms are written by a relatively small group of prominent political activists.  U.S. political parties do not have a “think-tank” affiliated with them or academics to help them write their platforms.  For Democrats, nearly 200 individuals from all walks of life helped craft the 2016 platform.  For Republicans, just over 100 individuals drafted their platform.  Both parties solicit outside input from multiple sources, including holding forums in key cities across America to listen directly to the American people.  As a result, the platform is not written in a nuanced style to discuss complex issues but uses bold language in short sentences to encapsulate the essence of the party’s position on a certain issue.

Nonetheless, the respective platforms provide an insight into the issues state and national party luminaires believe a majority of their adherents should adopt and use to urge others to vote for their candidate.  With the adoption of the Republican platform on Monday at the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio, there is now an opportunity to examine the policy implications for Korea and the rest of Asia, particularly in comparison to the 2012 document.

First, in the international affairs component of the GOP platform, both the 2012 and 2016 documents contain provisions that reiterate America’s global role in the world.  In fact, the 2016 GOP platform states, “We affirm our party’s tradition of world leadership established by President Eisenhower and follow by every Republican president since.”  While there are some concessions to the point of view of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, the party position is not as isolationist as some may have initially feared.  The 2016 GOP platform continues, “[U.S. world leadership] stands for enormous power – and the prudence to use it sparingly, precisely, and only in grave necessity.  It stands for involvement, not intervention.  It requires consultation, not permission to act.  It leads from the front – and ensures all others to do their parts as well.  It embraces American exceptionalism…”  To a certain degree, this represents the position of George W. Bush when he responded to a question during the second presidential debate in 2000 about how the people of the world should look at the United States:

“…It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy.  If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us.  If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.  Our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that’s why we have to be humble.  And yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom…if we’re an arrogant nation they’ll view us that way, but if we’re a humble nation they’ll respect us.”

Thus, to an extent, the 2016 Republican platform aims to return to pre-Iraq war position of George W. Bush who expressed support for a more humble foreign policy.

Second, the current GOP platform retains a section on Asia from the 2012 document entitled “U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific.” Thus, there is an assumption in Republican political circles that the U.S. will continue to be deeply engaged with the region.  In fact, the 2016 platform builds on the 2012 Asia section by specifically delineating that South Korea is a treaty ally of the United States.  In contrast, the 2012 GOP platform contained only two sentences on the Korean peninsula and identified Korea only as a country with which the U.S. has economic, military, and cultural ties.  In the current GOP platform, there are now four sentences on human rights and the nuclear issue with respect to North Korea, including this concluding sentence: “We [the U.S.] also pledge to counter any threats from the North Korean regime.”  Plus, unlike the sentiment in the section dealing with Europe, which contained language demanding fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fulfill their commitments and increase investment in their armed forces, the 2016 GOP platform does not contain similar language requiring Korea to increase “burden-sharing” because the facts are clear:  Korea already contributes approximately 50 percent of the cost of stationing U.S. troops on the peninsula; Korea has a military draft; and Korea is the highest contributor to its own defense (2.6 percent of GDP) of any major European or Asian ally of the United States.

Nonetheless, the language in trade section of the 2016 GOP platform is different from past years.  The 2012 platform praised past free trade agreements that facilitated the creation of nearly 10 million jobs and criticized the Obama Administration for its slowness in negotiating new trade deals.  The previous platform also call for the restoration of presidential Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and urged completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “to open rapidly developing Asian markets to U.S. products.”  However, while the trade section in the 2016 Republican platform begins with a similar sentence on the crucial importance of international trade for the American economy, the second sentence postulates that “massive trade deficits are not.”  The platform continues, “We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first…A Republican president will insist on parity in trade…”  The section concludes with the recommendation that “significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a Lame Duck Congress.”  This language could undermine bipartisan efforts to pass TPP later this year in Congress, particularly if Donald Trump is elected president.  Most recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “the chances are pretty slim that that we’d be looking at that [TPP] this year.”

While the 2016 Republican platform acknowledges that trade agreements with “friendly democracies” have resulted in millions of new jobs in the United States, there is now a shift towards the political goal of achieving “balance in trade.”  Contained in this language is an assumption that the U.S. loses jobs with nations that exports more goods and services into the United States that we are able to sell to them.  Regardless of the economic arguments against this proposition, the growing bilateral trade deficit between the United States and the South Korea could be a source of friction in the future if Donald Trump is elected president.  But fortunately, U.S.-ROK trade deficit is not a result of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).  In fact, items that were covered by the agreement saw an increase in exports from the United States to South Korea every year since the implementation of the KORUS FTA.

Thus, the 2016 GOP platform has mixed results for Korea – there is stronger language on maintaining U.S. commitments to our treaty ally, South Korea, and a pledge to counter any North Korean threats but possibly putting a speed bump on the way towards advancing future trade agreements.  Fortunately, Korea has a strong case to make that the KORUS-FTA is not the source of the growing bilateral trade deficit with the United States.  In fact, without the agreement, the deficit would be even higher.  Regardless, the party platform is not binding on Republican candidates for office but provides a window into the latest thinking of top GOP political operatives helping to elect candidates to federal office in the United States.

Phil Eskeland is Executive Director for Operations and Policy at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own.

Photo from the Disney | ABC Television Group’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Trump’s Choice of Vice President: Governor Mike Pence of Indiana

By Donald Manzullo

I served in Congress with Mike Pence from 2001 to 2013, including six years together on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He represented southeastern Indiana, including the cities of Muncie, Anderson, Richmond, some suburbs of Indianapolis and areas just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.  We come from similar areas in the Midwest where, like my northwestern Illinois district, there was a concentration of manufacturing industries, along with significant agricultural production.  During his first term in office, I selected him to lead one of my subcommittees on regulatory reform when I chaired the Small Business Committee.

Representative Pence served in several other leadership capacities during my tenure, including chairing the Republican Study Committee and then, the entire Republican Conference, the third highest leadership position for the GOP in the House.  During the 2012 election cycle, Representative Pence chose not to run for re-election to Congress and, instead competed for the governorship of his home state.  He won the race by over 81,000 votes out of 2.4 million cast.  In January 2013, he became the 50th Governor of the State of Indiana.

But who is Mike Pence and what are his views on international trade and America’s role in the world?

Governor Pence is an interesting choice for businessman Donald Trump for Vice President, putting on one ticket two people who have been on the record expressing different views of America and its place in the world.  In the past, Governor Pence has criticized several of Trump’s past statements, including remarks on “temporarily” barring Muslims from entering the U.S. and the comment by Trump suggesting that because the judge in one of his lawsuits has parents from Mexico, and that, in light of Trump wanting to build a fence on the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico, as well as deport millions of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S., the judge should be disqualified.

When I served with him on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I noticed that in his statements and examination of witnesses, Representative Pence was always prepared, probative, yet polite.  He eventually became the top Republican on the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee and endorsed the “surge” in Iraq, supported efforts to depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and continues to be a strong supporter of Israel.  He is not mean-spirited in his dealings with members of either party and is focused on issues, not personalities.

Pence learned a tough lesson during his initial foray into electoral politics when he ran a harsh negative and unsuccessful campaign against an incumbent Member of Congress, which he confessed was wrong[1].  He frequently characterizes himself as a conservative who is not angry about it.  Governor Pence also has a worldview of a globally engaged America, not isolated, in both foreign policy and trade.

Trump and Pence differ on free trade, including Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).   When KORUS FTA was debated before the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12, 2011, along with two other FTAs, Congressman Mike Pence spoke in favor of the agreements.

Indiana is uniquely poised to take advantage of the free trade opportunities provided in these agreements.  I often say in Indiana we do two things well: we make things and we grow things… [E]xpanding global markets for what we make and for what we grow are going to create jobs in Indiana, in the city and on the farm.

The Korea agreement…will eliminate $1.3 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports that cover many products Indiana is known for, like feed corn, soybeans, and dairy. It will eliminate those duties while other duties on products like pork will be phased out. Other industries, like Indiana’s growing life sciences sector, will benefit.

…I rise in support of these agreements because I believe that trade means jobs. And America and Indiana need jobs like never before.

Was Congressman Pence correct in his prediction that Indiana would benefit from the KORUS-FTA?  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Indiana’s exports of merchandise goods to South Korea in 2015 increased by 9 percent since 2011 (pre-KORUS implementation) to $693 million.  The top three Indiana exports to Korea include (in rank order) chemicals (up 21 percent since 2011); transportation equipment (up 26 percent); and primary metal manufacturing (up 102 percent).  In addition, Commerce estimates that Indiana imported $335 million worth of products from Korea in 2015, producing a trade surplus of $358 million for Indiana.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea totaled more than $6 billion in 2015, making this nation America’s sixth-largest market, with top exports including beef, corn, and pork.  U.S. dairy exports to Korea also experienced double-digit growth since KORUS implementation.

Governor Pence also wrote to the Indiana Congressional delegation in support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  Japan is Indiana’s third largest merchandise export destination.  Indiana’s exports of merchandise goods to the entire TPP region (including Japan) have also fared well in recent years, increasing 7 percent since 2011 to $18.78 billion.  Top Indiana exports of goods to TPP countries are (in rank order) transportation equipment, machinery, and chemicals.

If the Trump-Pence team is elected in November to lead America, it is not clear the influence Governor Pence would have on U.S. trade and foreign policy.  However, given Trump’s predilection to “tack” on certain positions, it would be interesting to see how the dynamic shapes up between the two nominees on reaching consensus on various policy issues.   Historically, U.S. vice presidents have been subservient to the president.  Thus, the addition of Governor Pence to the ticket may serve more as to convince skeptical conservatives to fully come on board the “Trump train” than to change Trump’s positions.  Trump’s supporters were able to alter the proposed Republican political platform to include more “America first” positions on trade and foreign policy, making it more problematic for Governor Pence to return the GOP to a more historical, robust Republican international agenda.  This will certainly be an interesting U.S. election year.

Donald Manzullo is President and CEO of Korea Economic Institute and former Member of U.S. Congress (1993-2013). The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Darryl Smith’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

[1] “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner.” Indiana Policy Review (October 1991), pg. 5-6.

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And Then There Were Two: What Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said about Korea

With the Democratic and Republican presumptive nominees now identified, here is our comprehensive list of what the two candidates have said about the Korean peninsula since the beginning of the race.

Hillary Clinton

  • June 2, 2016 – “Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States. When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it. That’s the power of allies.”
  • June 2, 2016 – “And it’s no small thing when he [Trump] suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – ‘If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.’ I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.”
  • June 2, 2016 – “And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength. He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.”
  • May 26, 2016 – “Because look at what Trump has said in recent days. He has attacked our closest ally, Great Britain. He has praised the dangerous dictator of North Korea. Now, this is a little funny though, he praised Kim Jong-un, and the North Korean ambassador to the UN came out yesterday and said they don’t want to talk to Donald Trump. I mean, I don’t attribute a lot of good sense to that regime but that’s probably the right decision.”
  • May 8, 2016 – “Being a loose cannon means saying that other nations should go ahead and acquire nuclear weapons for themselves — when that is the last thing we need in the world today…Being a loose cannon is saying we should pull out of NATO — the strongest military alliance in the history of the world, and something that we really need to modernize, but not abandon.”
  • February 4, 2016 – “We do have to worry about North Korea. They continue to develop their nuclear weapons capability, and they’re working very hard on their ballistic missile capability. And, I know that some of those plans could very well lead to a missile that might reach Hawaii, if not the West Coast. We do have to try to get the countries in the region to work with us to do everything we can to confine, and constrain them.”
  • February 4, 2016 – “I did help to renegotiate the trade agreement that we inherited from President Bush with Korea. We go the UAW on board because of changes we made. So there are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved, but I do not currently support it as it is written.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “I strongly condemn North Korea’s apparent nuclear test. If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan. Threats like this are yet another reminder of what’s at stake in this election. We cannot afford reckless, imprudent publicity stunts that risk war. We need a Commander-in-Chief with the experience and judgement to deal with a dangerous North Korea on Day One.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan,” Clinton said. “North Korea’s goal is to blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime.”


Donald Trump

  • May 27, 2016 – “I watched her [Clinton] last night and she lies so much, and she was saying last night, ‘Donald Trump wants to see Japan get nuclear weapons. He wants to see South Korea arm themselves and get nuclear weapons. I never said that.”

QUESTION: “This past week a lot of people are confused because you’re talking about, sounding like Obama, saying you would go to North Korea, you’d talk to the North Koreans…”

TRUMP: “I wouldn’t go to North Korea, Joe, I wouldn’t go there. The last thing I’d do is go – I would never go to North Korea I don’t know who would say I would go there.”

QUESTION: “Ok you won’t go there, you’ll talk to the North Korean leader.”

TRUMP: “Yes I would.”

TRUMP: “As far as Japan and South Korea are concerned, all I’m saying is, we defend them. They are paying us a tiny fraction of what it’s costing. I want them to pay—I would love to continue to defend Japan, I would love to continue to defend South Korea, we have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea right now, it is costing us an absolute fortune which we don’t have, we’re a debtor nation. I would like them to pay up. They have a lot of money, both of those nations. We take in Japan’s cars by the millions, South Korea sells us, every time you buy televisions –

QUESTION: “So you don’t have a problem with the troops staying there, you just want Japan and South Korea to pay us for our presence.”

TRUMP: “I want them to pay up. This isn’t 40 years ago and 20 years ago. We are not a country that can afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Germany, the NATO nations, 28 NATO nations, many of which are not paying us and they’re not living up to their agreement, Japan, South Korea, we’re like the dummies that protect everybody. All I’m saying is, we have to get reimbursed because we can’t afford it.”

  • May 17, 2016 – “I would speak to him [Kim Jong Un], I would have no problem speaking to him.”
  • April 28, 2016 — “You tell them [China], we are going to – either you are going to have to straighten out this North Korea problem or we are not going to be doing so much business with you…Here is what we do. China has tremendous power over North Korea, tremendous, beyond anybody. Now they do not tell us that. They like to tweak us and say, well, we do not really. They have total control. China cannot even survive without us because economically they have been ripping us for many years to come. They have been sucking our blood… They do not do so much business with us, they would have a depression the likes of which you have ever seen. We have tremendous power, economic power over China. I want to get along with China. We are going to get along with China. But China can strangle because it comes in through China. And China is powerful. China can strangle North Korea. It can make them – bring them to the table.”
  • April 27, 2016 – “President Obama watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression and expands even further with its nuclear reach. Our president has allowed China to continue its economic assault on American jobs and wealth, refusing to enforce trade rules – or apply the leverage on China necessary to rein in North Korea.”
  • April 2, 2016 – “I would rather have them [Japan and South Korea] not arm, but I’m not going to continue to lose this tremendous amount of money. And frankly, the case could be made that let them protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick… If they fight, you know what, that’d be a terrible thing. Terrible. But if they do, they do.”

QUESTION: “You want them [Japan] to have a nuclear weapon?”

TRUMP: “We spend a fortune on defending South Korea. Now I order thousands and — thousands of television sets here, they come from South Korea. They make so much.  They’re making a fortune.  They’re a behemoth.  So is Germany.  Why are we defending them? Why aren’t they reimbursing us?  Why aren’t they paying a good portion of the costs? They’re going to get it because it’s in their best interest. If we have to walk, we have to walk.”

QUESTION: By the way, you said the other day about South Korea and Japan maybe having to develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities?”

TRUMP: “No, what I said is, ‘I’ll keep it the way it is but they have to pay their fair share.’ Just so you understand, South Korea is a behemoth.  They make so much.  The ships of the world, the great ships of the world — you can’t buy televisions anymore unless you go to South Korea  — other than Sony which is in Japan.”

QUESTION: “But you know what, the last time we pulled troops of the 38th parallel, we had a problem, it’s the Korean War.  So I really want to – we shouldn’t be pulling troops…”

TRUMP: “I’ll tell you — I’ll tell you — I’ll tell what — the Korean War.  OK, so we compete with South Korea — I have buildings in South Korea, I get along great with the people in South Korea.  Do you know that the top people cannot believe — of course, they didn’t know I was going to be running for president — they used to tell me — they don’t tell me that anymore — they cannot believe they get away with what they get away with.”

QUESTION: “You said you worried about the proliferation of nuclear weapons…You also said, though, that you might support Japan and South Korea developing nuclear weapons of their own.  Isn’t that completely contradictory?”

TRUMP:  No, not at all.  Look, you have North Korea has nuclear weapons.  And he doesn’t have a carrier yet but he has got nuclear weapons.  He soon will have.  We don’t want to pull the trigger.  We’re just – you know, we have a president, frankly, that doesn’t – nobody is afraid of our president.  Nobody respects our president. You take a look at what’s going on throughout the world.  It’s not the country that it was.

QUESTION:  But if you’re concerned about proliferation, letting other countries get nuclear weapons, isn’t that proliferation?

TRUMP:  No, no.  We owe $19 $trillion, we have another $2 trillion because of the very, very bad omnibus budget that was just signed.  It’s a disgrace, which gives everything that Obama wanted.  We get nothing.  They get everything.

So that’s going to be $21 trillion.  We are supporting nations now, militarily, we are supporting nations like Saudi Arabia which was making during the good oil days which was a year ago, now they’re making less but still a lot, $1 billion a day.

We are supporting them, militarily, and pay us a fraction, a fraction of what they should be paying us and of the cost.  We are supporting Japan.  Most people didn’t even know that.  Most people didn’t know that we are taking care of Japan’s military needs.  We’re supporting Germany.  We’re supporting South Korea.  I order thousands of television sets because I am in the real estate business, you know, in my other life, OK.

QUESTION:  “It has been a U.S. policy for decades to prevent Japan from getting a nuclear weapon. South Korea as well.”

TRUMP:  “Can I be honest are you?  Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it.  You have so many other countries are now having it…”

QUESTION:  “So some proliferation is OK?”

TRUMP:  “No, no, not proliferation.  I hate nuclear more than any.  My uncle was a professor was at MIT, he used to tell me about the problem.”

QUESTION:  “But that’s contradictory about Japan and South Korea.”

TRUMP:  “Excuse me, one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen signed ever, ever, ever by anybody, Iran is going to have it within 10 years.  Iran is going to have it.  I thought it was a very good interview in The New York Times.

QUESTION:  “So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons.”

TRUMP:  “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…”

QUESTION:  “Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP:  “Saudi Arabia, absolutely.”

QUESTION:  “You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP:  “No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us. Here’s the thing, with Japan, they have to pay us or we have to let them protect themselves.”

QUESTION:  “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”

TRUMP:  “Can I be honest with you?  It’s going to happen, anyway.  It’s going to happen anyway.  It’s only a question of time.  They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them. Now, wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?  And they do have them.  They absolutely have them.  They can’t – they have no carrier system yet but they will very soon. Wouldn’t you rather have Japan, perhaps, they’re over there, they’re very close, they’re very fearful of North Korea, and we’re supposed to protect.”

QUESTION: “So you’re saying you don’t want more nuclear weapons in the world but you’re OK with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP: “I don’t want more nuclear weapons.  I think that – you know, when I hear Obama get up and say the biggest threat to the world today is global warming, I say, is this guy kidding? The only global warming – the only global warming I’m worried about is nuclear global warming because that’s the single biggest threat.  So it’s not that I’m a fan – we can’t afford it anymore.  We’re sitting on a tremendous bubble.  We’re going to be – again, $21 trillion.  We don’t have money.”

QUESTION:  “So you have no security concerns about Japan or South Korea getting nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP: “Anderson, when you see all of the money that our country is spending on military, we’re not spending it for ourselves; we’re protecting all of these nations all over the world.  We can’t afford to do it anymore.”

QUESTION: “But isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Europe.  Isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Asia.”

TRUMP:  “There’s a benefit, but not big enough to bankrupt and destroy the United States, because that’s what’s happening.  We can’t afford it.  It’s very simple. Now, I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense, against North Korea.  Because we’re not pulling the trigger.  The bottom line on North Korea is china, if they wanted to, they’re a tremendous supplier of North Korea.  They have tremendous power over North Korea.  If they wanted to, if they weren’t toying with us, Anderson, China would be the one that would get in and could make a deal in one day, okay.”

  • March 26, 2016 – “Well, you know, at some point, there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore. And, I know the upsides and the downsides. But right now we’re protecting, we’re basically protecting Japan, and we are, every time North Korea raises its head, you know, we get calls from Japan and we get calls from everybody else, and “Do something.” And there’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation. At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money. You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We’re not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not anymore. We have a military that’s severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don’t even know if they work.”

QUESTION: “The Japanese view has always been, if the United States, at any point, felt as if it was uncomfortable defending them, there has always been a segment of Japanese society, and of Korean society that said, ‘Well, maybe we should have our own nuclear deterrent, because if the U.S. isn’t certain, we need to make sure the North Koreans know that.’ Is that a reasonable position? Do you think at some point they should have their own arsenal?”

TRUMP: “Well, it’s a position that we have to talk about, and it’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about, and if the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country, David. You know, if you look at how we backed our enemies, it hasn’t – how we backed our allies – it hasn’t exactly been strong. When you look at various places throughout the world, it hasn’t been very strong. And I just don’t think we’re viewed the same way that we were 20 or 25 years ago, or 30 years ago. And, you know, I think it’s a problem. You know, something like that, unless we get very strong, very powerful and very rich, quickly, I’m sure those things are being discussed over there anyway without our discussion.”

QUESTION: “And would you have an objection to it?”

TRUMP: “Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now. And you have, Pakistan has them. You have, probably, North Korea has them. I mean, they don’t have delivery yet, but you know, probably, I mean to me, that’s a big problem. And, would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there. We certainly haven’t been able to do much with him and with North Korea. But you may very well have a better case. You know, one of the things with the, with our Japanese relationship, and I’m a big fan of Japan, by the way. I have many, many friends there. I do business with Japan. But, that, if we are attacked, they don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. You understand. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement, right there. In other words, if we’re attacked, they do not have to come to our defense, if they’re attacked, we have to come totally to their defense. And that is a, that’s a real problem.”

QUESTION: “Would you be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from places like Japan and South Korea if they don’t increase their contribution significantly?”

TRUMP: “Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it. Not happily. David actually asked me that question before, this morning before we sort of finalized out. The answer is not happily but the answer is yes. We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it anymore. Now there was a time when we could have done it. When we started doing it. But we can’t do it anymore. And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes.”

QUESTION: “So we talked a little this morning about Japan and South Korea, whether or not they would move to an independent nuclear capability. Just last week the United States removed from Japan, after a long negotiation, many bombs worth, probably 40 or more bombs worth of plutonium or highly enriched uranium that we provided them over the years. And that’s part of a very bipartisan effort to keep them from going nuclear. So I was a little surprised this morning when you said you would be open to them having their own nuclear deterrent. Certainly if you pull back one of the risks is that they would go nuclear.”

TRUMP: “You know you’re more right except for the fact that you have North Korea which is acting extremely aggressively, very close to Japan. And had you not had that, I would have felt much, I would have felt differently. You have North Korea, and we are very far away and we are protecting a lot of different people and I don’t know that we are necessarily equipped to protect them. And if we didn’t have the North Korea threat, I think I’d feel a lot differently, David….I think maybe it’s not so bad to have Japan — if Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.”

QUESTION: You mean if Japan had a nuclear weapon it wouldn’t be so bad for us?

TRUMP: Well, because of North Korea. Because of North Korea. Because we don’t know what he’s going to do. We don’t know if he’s all bluster or is he a serious maniac that would be willing to use it. I was talking about before, the deterrent in some people’s minds was that the consequence is so great that nobody would ever use it. Well that may have been true at one point but you have many people that would use it right now in this world.

QUESTION: For that reason, they may well need their own and not be able to just depend on us…

TRUMP: “I really believe that’s true. Especially because of the threat of North Korea. And they are very aggressive toward Japan. Well I mean look, he’s aggressive toward everybody. Except for China and Iran.

See we should use our economic power to have them disarm — now then it becomes different, then it becomes purely economic, but then it becomes different. China has great power over North Korea even though they don’t necessarily say that. Now, Iran, we had a great opportunity during this negotiation when we gave them the 150 billion and many other things. Iran is the No. 1 trading partner of North Korea. Now we could have put something in our agreement that they would have led the charge if we had people with substance and with brainpower and with some negotiating ability. But the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea is Iran. And we did a deal with them, and we just did a deal with them, and we don’t even mention North Korea in the deal. That was a great opportunity to put another five pages in the deal, or less, and they do have a great influence over North Korea. Same thing with China, China has great influence over North Korea but they don’t say they do because they’re tweaking us. I have this from Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, I have people of vast wealth, some of the most important people in China have purchased apartments from me for tens of millions of dollars and frankly I know them very well. And I ask them about their relationship to North Korea, these are top people. And they say we have tremendous power over North Korea. I know they do. I think you know they do.”

QUESTION: “They signed on to the most recent sanctions, more aggressive sanctions than we thought the Chinese would agree to.”

TRUMP: “Well that’s good, but, I mean I know they did, but I think that they have power beyond the sanctions.”

QUESTION: “So you would advocate that they have to turn off the oil to North Korea basically.”

TRUMP: “So much of their lifeblood comes through China, that’s the way it comes through. They have tremendous power over North Korea, but China doesn’t say that. China says well we’ll try. I can see them saying, “We’ll try, we’ll try.” And I can see them laughing in the room next door when they’re together. So China should be talking to North Korea. But China’s tweaking us. China’s toying with us. They are when they’re building in the South China Sea. They should not be doing that but they have no respect for our country and they have no respect for our president. So, and the other one, and this is an opportunity passed because why would Iran go back and renegotiate it having to do with North Korea?But Iran is the No. 1 trading partner, but we should have had something in that document that was signed having to do with North Korea as the No. 1 trading partner and as somebody with a certain power because of that. A very substantial power over North Korea.”

QUESTION: “Mr. Trump with all due respect, I think it’s China that’s the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea.”

TRUMP: “I’ve heard that certainly, but I’ve also heard from other sources that it’s Iran…Well that is true but I’ve heard it both ways. They are certainly major arms exchangers, which in itself is terrible that we would make a deal with somebody that’s a major arms exchanger with North Korea. But had that deal not been done and they were desperate to do it, and they wanted to do it much more so than we know in my opinion, meaning Iran wanted to make the deal much more than we know. We should have backed off that deal, doubled the sanctions and made a real deal. And part of that deal should have been that Iran would help us with North Korea. So, the bottom line is, I think that frankly, as long as North Korea’s there, I think that Japan having a capability is something that maybe is going to happen whether we like it or not.”

  • February 26, 2016 – “I think that we are now in a position — are $19 trillion dollars because of the horrible omnibus budget that was approved six weeks ago, it’s going to be $21 trillion dollars. We can no longer defend all of these countries, Japan, Germany, South Korea. You order televisions, you order almost anything, you’re getting it from these countries. Whether it’s a Mercedes-Benz, or whether it’s an air conditioning unit. They’re coming out of these countries. They are making a fortune. Saudi Arabia, we are defending Saudi Arabia. Before the oil went down, now they’re making less, but they’re making plenty. They were making $1 billion dollars a day. We defend all of these countries for peanuts. You talk about budgets. We have to start getting reimbursed for taking care of the military services for all of these countries.”
  • February 10, 2016 — “I would get China to make that guy [Kim Jong Un] disappear in one form or another very quickly…Well, you know, I’ve heard of worse things, frankly. I mean this guy’s a bad dude — and don’t underestimate him. Any young guy that can take over from his father with all those generals and everybody else that probably wants the position, this is not somebody to be underestimated.”
  • February 10, 2016 – “China has control, absolute control of North Korea. They don’t say it, but they do, and they should make that problem disappear. China is sucking us dry. They’re taking our money, they’re taking our jobs and doing so much. We have rebuilt China with what they’ve taken out. We have power over China. China should do that…I wouldn’t leave it up to [the Chinese]. I would say, ‘You gotta do it. You gotta do it.”
  • February 10, 2016 – “The closest partner of North Korea is Iran. Why didn’t we put something in there when we’re making a deal, and we’re giving them $150 billion — why didn’t we do something with Iran where Iran gets in, and we force Iran to get in and do something with North Korea? We don’t do anything. We should have, when we made that deal. That deal is a horror show. It’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
  • February 6, 2016 – “China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous — the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan. I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they’re rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That’s what we should do with North Korea.”
  • January 10, 2016 – “I mean, you’ve got this mad man (Kim Jong-un) playing around with the nukes and it has got to end. He’s certainly — he could be a total nut job, frankly.”
  • January 10, 2016 – ‘If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he’s like a maniac, OK? You’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys – he was like 25 or 26 when his father died – take over these tough generals. How does he do that?’
  • January 6, 2016 –“China has total control, believe me, they say they don’t, they have total control over North Korea, and China should solve that problem, and if they don’t solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult with China. Because we are, believe it, we are holding China up. They’re taking so much money. They’re training our country, and they’re toying with us with North Korea. So, North Korea is totally under the control, without China, they wouldn’t eat.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “I’d get South Korea — that’s making a fortune, they’re our trading partner, if you want to use the word ‘partner,’ “We get almost nothing for what we do. We defend the world. We defend so many countries. We get nothing. They get everything. We get nothing. South Korea’s going to have to start ponying up, OK? And we’ll do it in a very nice manner. They’ll like us even more than they like us now.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “It’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time. You have this madman over there who probably would use it,” Trump said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “And nobody talks to him, other than of course Dennis Rodman,” he said. “That’s about it.”
  • November 10, 2015 – “We worry about Iranian nukes but why not North Korean nukes? It’s not only Russia [that we’re having trouble with]. We have problems with North Korea where they actually have nuclear weapons. You know, nobody talks about it, we talk about Iran, and that’s one of the worst deals ever made. One of the worst contracts ever signed, ever, in anything, and it’s a disgrace. But, we have somebody over there, a madman, who already has nuclear weapons we don’t talk about that.”
  • September 16, 2015 – “And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea. And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve — a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.”
  • August 23, 2015 – “You know it’s heating up again, so, we send our ships. I think South Korea’s great. I think it’s wonderful. I just order 4,000 television sets for a job that I’m doing, right? And guess what? Between Samsung, and LG, and Sharp, they all come from South Korea…They’re making a fortune. So, we send our troops, we’re getting ready to go in there and defend them. And we get nothing! It’s like crazy. We get nothing. Why are we getting nothing? Why aren’t they helping us, okay? We help them.”
  • August 23, 2015 – “And you know, we have this mad guy [Kim Jong Un], I guess he’s mad, either he’s mad or he’s a genius, one or the other, but he’s actually more unstable, even than his father, they say. They said the father was a pleasure by comparison to him, in North Korea.”
  • July 23, 2015 – “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment? When will they start to pay us?”

Photos from Gage Skidmore’s photostream on flickr Creative Commmons.

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The Korean-American Vote: Looking to the 2016 Presidential Election and Beyond

By Juni Kim

A recent survey published by three Asian American NGOs provided new insights into the voting preferences of Korean-Americans for the 2016 presidential election. These results highlight the continuing shift of Korean-American voters towards the Democratic Party over recent years. Although the Korean-American population in most states may be relatively small compared to other demographics, this political trend and the growing population of Korean-Americans in certain states should not be underestimated by either major political party. This election may not become the hallmark of the Korean-American vote, but the continued population growth of Korean-Americans and other Asian Americans will enable them to become a formidable political force in future elections.

The survey reported that 62% of Korean-Americans viewed the Republican Party unfavorably compared to only 24% of Korean-Americans who viewed the Democratic Party unfavorably. Korean-Americans also viewed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump very unfavorably, with 80% of Korean-Americans holding adverse views of the presumed Republican nominee. Conversely, Korean-Americans view the two remaining Democratic candidates less harshly with only 37% of Korean-Americans viewing Hillary Clinton unfavorably and 28% for Bernie Sanders. Korean-American voters also identify with the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by more than two-to-one.

Korean American Party Identification

Although these numbers suggest preferences for more typically liberal candidates, Korean-American voters have the interesting paradox of mostly identifying with the Democratic Party despite a larger reported preference for conservative ideology. Korean-American voters self-identify two-to-one as conservative or very conservative (44%) compared to liberal or very liberal (22%). It is worth noting that 35% of Korean American voters also self-identify as moderate. In a 2013 analysis of the 2012 presidential election results, Dr. Taeku Lee, a Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley, advised, “The Democratic Party cannot take the partisan consolidation of Korean-Americans for granted.”

Korean American Ideology

The pivot towards the Democratic Party by Korean-Americans is a relatively recent trend shared with other Asian American voters. Only 31% of Asian American voters in 1992 voted for Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate in the 1992 presidential election, compared to the 55% that voted for Republican candidate George HW Bush. Every presidential election since then has seen an increase in Asian-American support for the Democratic candidate, which reached a new high of 73% in the past 2012 election.

The notable percentage of self-identified conservatives and moderates among Korean-American voters suggests that a large number of Korean-Americans do not see the current state of the Republican Party as a proper representation of their conservative views. Although there is much ground to recover, the Republican Party still can make a case by supporting and maintaining more moderate platforms, which Dr. Lee noted will have to include moderate stances on health care reform, progressive taxation, and immigration reform to regain Korean-American votes. If such actions occur under the GOP, more Korean-American voters may identify themselves with the Republican Party and vote accordingly.

Population growth

Although Korean-Americans today currently make up a relatively small portion of the total U.S. population, the Korean American population continues to climb steadily. From under 70,000 residents in 1970, the population has grown to more than 1.7 million U.S. residents in 2010. Korean-Americans have established significant population hubs in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia.

With expected continued population growth, Korean-American and Asian-American voters will hold increased influence in some battleground states. A January 2016 AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Data article noted that AAPI voters constituted significant shares of the electorates in three battleground states (Florida, Nevada, and Virginia) proportional to the presidential vote margin in the 2012 general election. The Korean-American population has had significant growth rates in all three of these states with a 50% increase in Florida, a 93% increase in Nevada, and a 62% increase in Virginia from 2000 to 2010. New York, which has over 150,000 Korean American residents, also poses interesting questions for the upcoming presidential election considering the shared connections between all three remaining major party candidates and the state.


Admittedly the current Korean-American population hubs may not be large enough to swing a state in the upcoming election, but the Korean-American vote is worth watching in the years to come. The continued population growth of Korean-Americans and sizable proportion of moderate voters makes the Korean-American vote worthy of attention from both major political parties.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). Thomas Lee, an Intern at KEI and graduate of American University, also contributed to this blog. The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

Photo from Gene Han’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.


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About The Peninsula

The Peninsula blog is a project of the Korea Economic Institute. It is designed to provide a wide ranging forum for discussion of the foreign policy, economic, and social issues that impact the Korean peninsula. The views expressed on The Peninsula are those of the authors alone, and should not be taken to represent the views of either the editors or the Korea Economic Institute. For questions, comments, or to submit a post to The Peninsula, please contact us at ts@keia.org.