Ross Matzkin-Bridger is a program assistant with the Korea Chair at CSIS and a full-time graduate student in Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program. Previously, he worked as the coordinator for international relations for a municipality in Japan and interned at the US Embassy in Tokyo. In 2009 he was one of thirteen US graduate students sponsored by the Japan Foundation for their US Future Leaders program. He holds a B.A. from The George Washington University in Asian Studies and Japanese Language and Literature.
Articles by Ross Matzkin-Bridger
The first quarter of 2010 set the stage for what should be a busy year in US-Korea relations. The Six-Party Talks remain stalled, although dire conditions in the North may force Kim Jong-il back to negotiations soon. While North Korea continues to demand concessions before a return to talks, the US shows no sign of caving in. In South Korea, there was a flurry of mixed signals on whether the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul scheduled to be completed in 2012 would go ahead as planned. Prospects for the US-ROK free trade agreement got a boost from President Obama and his administration, however, it remains uncertain when the deal will move to Congress for ratification. Finally, the issue of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing in South Korea has made its way to the forefront of US-Korea relations, where it will likely remain for some years.
The final quarter of 2009 included a number of significant developments in US-Korea ties. President Barack Obama made his first trip to Seoul in November, and Special Envoy for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth traveled to Pyongyang in December. The summit between Presidents Obama and Lee Myung-bak marked the continuation of an historical high in relations between the two countries. On issues affecting the alliance, Obama and Lee found common ground on North Korea, while they inched forward with the Korea-US free trade agreement. Meanwhile, Bosworth’s three days of talks with North Korean officials brought the most encouraging signs of a return to the six-party process since talks broke down at the end of 2008. The Obama administration is faring well on the Korean Peninsula, even as relations with other major powers of the region become more complicated. Those accompanying Obama on his trip to Asia informally acknowledged that Korea was the “best stop” on the trip and sensed a personal connection between the two leaders.