Hannah Oh is a paralegal specializing in international trade and intellectual property at Holland & Knight LLP in Washington, DC. Her research interests include the U.S.-Korea alliance, international political economy, and East Asian security. She received an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University and a B.A. in English from Kon Kuk University in Seoul, Korea.
Articles by Hannah Oh
In an historic breakthrough at the Six-Party Talks, North Korea committed to disabling its Yongbyon nuclear facilities and declaring all its nuclear programs by Dec. 31, 2007. It also pledged not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to move toward normalizing relations with Pyongyang by fulfilling its commitment to take North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism and end the application of the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act as Pyongyang fulfills its denuclearization commitments.
North Korea’s agreement in the nuclear negotiations created a positive atmosphere for a successful North-South summit, held Oct. 3-4 in Pyongyang. In their summit declaration, signed by President Roh Moo-hyun and Chairman Kim Jong-il, the two Koreas pledged to work together on security, economic and humanitarian issues while making only passing reference to smoothly implementing the Six-Party Talks agreement. Significantly, the declaration also explicitly acknowledged that “the South and the North both recognize the need to end the current armistice regime and build a permanent peace regime.” According to U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow, Washington and Seoul “have already begun consultations…in order to develop a common approach” to this issue.
As the ratification process for the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) moved ahead, Seoul resumed imports and inspections of U.S. beef. South Korea seemed to take seriously the warning of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns that the Congress would not ratify the FTA as long as restrictions on U.S. beef remain in effect. In early September, the South Korean government submitted the FTA to the National Assembly for ratification.
Finally, in a change long sought by South Korea, President Bush signed into law in early August a measure that will allow South Koreans to visit the U.S. without a visa, for a period of up to 90 days. The change is set to go into effect in July 2008, at the time the Korean government is expected to issue biometric “e-passports” to its citizens.
Despite the progress made on several fronts, there was also an undercurrent of tension that marked the relationship between both Koreas and the U.S. throughout the quarter. Nevertheless, each time the tension bubbled to the surface both sides seemed intent on smoothing over the differences and moving on with the issue at hand.