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U.S. in Korea

September 08, 1996

Re "U.S. Role in Kwangju and Beyond," Commentary, Aug. 29:

The death sentence for former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan, who as a general had bloodily seized power with tacit American endorsement and harshly ruled the South Korean people with open U.S. blessings, is being widely cheered by Koreans in general. Meanwhile, the South Korean government had to resort to extreme paramilitary operations to suppress the demonstrating students demanding the withdrawal of American forces and the conclusion of a peace agreement between North Korea and the U.S.

The growing unpopularity of the U.S. among South Koreans, except for the ruling elites, largely stems from the presence of U.S. soldiers who, while causing all sorts of nuisances, constitute a main hindrance to a peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

The U.S. should, before it becomes too late, devise a new formula in which the American forces in Korea are pulled out and yet the mainstay of its interest is secured.

One way of doing this would be the abrogation of the present defense treaty with South Korea in favor of a new international arrangement under which 1) a unified Korea with reduced military capabilities is realized, 2) the neutrality of unified Korea is guaranteed by the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, and 3) a peripheral region of the unified Korea is leased to the U.S. for its military use in order to meet the U.S. desire to play peacekeeping roles in East Asia.


Granada Hills

The writer was the Korean consul in Los Angeles in 1968-71 and later served as president of the Korean Reunification Forum in L.A.

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