In an April 6 tweet, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote that he appreciated South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo taking his call to discuss “the importance of equitable burned sharing across the alliance.” After all, he noted, “It is critical that we get a fair, balanced, and comprehensive agreement signed quickly.” Esper closed with the hashtag #KatchiKapshida, a romanization of the Korean phrase, “Let’s go Together.” It’s a catch phrase common among U.S.-ROK alliance managers and, under current circumstances, pure banality.
At the moment, the allies are neither together nor is it clear where they are going. Despite COVID-19, North Korea continues to build up its conventional—and we have to assume WMD—programs as well. This is why finding a resolution to the cost-sharing issue and restoring confidence in the alliance should not be put on a back burner. It should be prioritized.
Read the full op-ed in The National Interest.