Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Seoul between US and South Korea

Written By: Marquon Banks
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia State University
Published: 4/4/2017
At the age of two, my mother was in the United States Army and received orders to stationed in Seoul, South Korea in 1997. As a child, I wasn’t aware of what kind of cross-border issues were occurring at this time.  I was curious, so I decided to do some research on the historical context of the time, and South Korea’s relationship with the United States. What I found during this period was that the United States and Republic of Korea had a positive relationship ever since the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953 after the Korean War. They had a long, continuous history of cooperation and friendship based on shared interests and values. Although my mother was stationed there for the US Army, the United States also maintained personnel in the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps in South Korea in support of the Mutual Defense Treaty to help against any external aggression. To strengthen the treaty, in 1978, the creation of the Combined Forces Command was created which is made up of United States units and Republic of Korea armed forces that parallel operations to provide coordinated defense for the alliance.

After living in Seoul for two years, I’m now four years of age and my mother received orders to be stationed back in the United States. I was also curious about the U.S.-Korea relationship after the 1990s. It’s safe to say that the friendship remains strong, with cooperative deals and comprehensive global partnerships being established from the 90s to present day. In 2012, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement was enacted. In 2013, the two countries celebrated the 60th anniversary of their alliance. Also, trade and investment agreements had become a critical aspect of the two countries relationship with one another. In 2015, the two-way trade amounted to over $113 billion in goods and over $33 billion in services which boosted economic growth with both countries.

The only memory I have of living in South Korea was watching the Might Morphing Power Rangers: The Movie at the daycare on base. I don’t have any memorable experiences there, but I hope to one day get the chance to visit Seoul again with my mother so she can take me sightseeing and to the places she’s been. She told me that Seoul was one of her favorite duty stations to live because there was always something to do and she had a great time there. I’m pretty sure that she has plenty of stories to tell me if we do go back and visit, especially if it involves me acting silly in Seoul.