via Ka Leo O Hawaii: UH Manoa Student College Newspaper & Media – Former ambassador speaks about future relations of US-Korea.


News Co-Editor

Published: Saturday, February 6, 2010

Updated: Monday, February 8, 2010

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Sung Chul Yang spoke about the United States’ relations with Korea at UH last Tuesday.

A group of about 20 students and faculty gathered around the conference room in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Center for Korean Studies last Tuesday to listen to former ambassador to the United States Sung Chul Yang speak about the future relations of the U.S. and South Korea.

Before Yang began talking about U.S. and Korea relations, he spoke about South Korea’s and North Korea’s division, which is the biggest problem that the South Korea peninsula is facing today, according to Yang.

“The best way to reunify North and South Korea is to get a South Korean groom married to a North Korean bride,” joked Yang.

Although Yang eased the group with a joke, the South Korea-North Korea unification is a complicated matter. Yang believes that there are four tasks that must be done to reunify Korea and to have future Korea-U.S. relations.

“(The four tasks) are the consensus building within the south and within the north, the mutual confidence building through inter-Korean tension reduction, and finally, externally the common-ground building through a regional peace mechanism to resolve the conflicting political, economic, and security interest of major neighboring nations,” said Yang.

After his 30-minute speech on his ideology about the future of Korea-U.S. relations, students were given the opportunity to ask questions and give comments.

The first student to comment did not agree with Yang’s ideology. 

“Your commanding to U.S.-Korea relations actually is retarding the unification process. That’s a contradiction because you want to perpetrate a U.S.-ROK relation, but you also want reunification. That’s what’s holding back reunification,” said Jet Heng, prospective graduate political science student.

Some students were concerned about what would happen to North Korea.

“Development of nuclear weapons has two roles. One is a way of saving their (North Korea) economy and the second role seems to be for other countries to take North Korea seriously. These are the two big things that maintain North Korea. How likely do you think it is that they are going to meet high rise?” asked Jeremy Meek, a master’s student at the Korean Flagship Language Center (KFLC).

Yang answered that North Korea was economically better in the early years after the Korean War. However, after communism failed, “hanging on to nuclear weaponry is only for survival. But slowly, with mutual trust and confidence, there will be a way,” said Yang.

The colloquium discussion session ended with laughter after Yang proudly announced that he was the leader of the team in making “Kim Chee” (pickled radish with Korean pepper paste), a representative national food for Korea.

Yang received his B.A. in political science at Seoul National University, M.A from the University of Hawai‘i and Ph.D from the University of Kentucky. He also met his wife at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa during his time as a student