Dr. Mason Richey is Associate Professor of international politics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (Seoul, South Korea), and Senior Contributor at the Asia Society (Korea). Dr. Richey has also held positions as a POSCO Visiting Research Fellow at the East-West Center (Honolulu, HI) and a DAAD Scholar at the University of Potsdam. His research focuses on U.S. and European foreign and security policy as applied to the Asia-Pacific. Recent scholarly articles have appeared (inter alia) in Pacific Review, Asian Security, Global Governance, and Foreign Policy Analysis. Shorter analyses and opinion pieces have been published in 38North, War on the Rocks, Le Monde, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and Forbes, among other venues. He is co-editor of the volume The Future of the Korean Peninsula: Korea 2032 (Routledge, forthcoming 2021).
Articles by Mason Richey
While inter-Korean relations saw a fraught—even explosive—May-August reporting period, US relations with South Korea and North Korea settled into a holding pattern commingling frustration, disappointment, occasional bared teeth (from North Korea), and frequently forced smiles (from South Korea). Washington and Seoul failed to reach agreement on troop burden-sharing, an issue weighing down the US-South Korea alliance. Meanwhile, US-South Korea joint military exercises remain scaled-down, in part due to COVID-19, even as South Korea is committing to greater capabilities for its own defense. Regarding alliance coordination on diplomacy with North Korea, the administrations of Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in continue to try to mask obvious differences in prioritization of engagement for reconciliation and pressure for denuclearization. Ties between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled such that even talking about talking makes news. And in the background, Kim Jong Un’s regime continues to build up and improve its nuclear weapons program and missile arsenal.
Overall, US relations with the two Koreas are in a wait-and-see mode, with all three governments delaying significant steps until after the November US presidential election.