This blog is based on a full op-ed in the Global Times (China), which can be viewed in its entirety HERE:
The US and South Korea reaffirmed their 60-year alliance in Washington during South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s first visit to the US since being elected to the Blue House.
The main objective of both presidents was to show unity over trade and security issues for the two nations. Park was also accompanied by one of the largest economic entourages in recent memory, with more than 50 high-profile and senior representatives from South Korea’s business sector accompanying her. Such figures included some of the heads of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. They were there to pitch the mantra that South Korea is a safe place for foreign direct investment.
Park’s economic entourage also served as a strong signal of how importantly South Korean firms value the US marketplace.
The US is still one of South Korea’s largest export markets. Thus, Park attempted to strategically disentangle North Korea’s recent provocative actions and threats from South Korea’s economic interests during her trip. Her “Korea brand diplomacy” strategy was a purposeful and forceful counter-response to notions that a “Korean discount” is needed for Korean assets due to North Korea.
In the current post-crisis slow growth era, both Park and Obama share a vested interest in furthering the alliance, especially since increased trade opportunities would be more than welcome to spur the economic growth of both countries. Perhaps it is for this reason that Park and her economic entourage received such a warm welcome by Obama and the US Congress.
After all, South Korea represents a model state of a liberal democracy in a key region, Northeast Asia, that not only has produced a vibrant export-led economy, but also represents an economy that will hopefully be increasingly open to US imports of goods and services.
Tags: Barack Obama, brand diplomacy, korus fta, Park Geun-hye, ROK-US, South Korean president