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10th Annual Korean Peninsula Forum: 70 years of the US-ROK Alliance and the Dilemma of Asian Security

September 8, 2023

South Korea and the US have invested 70 years forging an alliance which defines geopolitics in Asia. Echoing these historic ties, CKS and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea celebrate 10 years of analyzing US-ROK relations with the Korean Peninsula Forum 2023 on Friday, October 6 from 1 to 5:30pm in the Walker-Ames Room.

In August of this year, President Biden met with South Korean President Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida at the Camp David Summit to affirm strong relations among their nations and promise to seek stronger ties with ASEAN. The following month, at the 2023 ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, leaders of ASEAN, including Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Vice President Kamala Harris, met to discuss security and economics of the region. Topics of interest included China’s mapping of its territory in the South China Sea and the status of the Korean peninsula. Along with President Biden’s reaffirmation of US ties to Korea and Japan, US presence at the ASEAN Summit and the G20 Summit in New Delhi, and Biden’s visit to Vietnam, the US may be signaling to the world of burgeoning US alliances across Asia. South Korea has stood as an unwavering ally to the US in Asia, and itself has forged many diplomatic ties in the region. Korea’s relationship with China remains complicated; however, North Korean diplomacy with Russia and China appears more active than ever.

As diplomatic relationships are becoming more divisive and tensions continue to escalate in Asia, Korea finds itself in a complex position between the US and China. While the US-ROK relationship remains strong, will increasing US-China competition change the face of the alliance? To assess the situation, we welcome an esteemed panel of experts to review and interpret the future of US-SK relations, and to decipher Korea’s role between its greatest democratic ally and its largest economic partner.

The forum will be followed by an open reception for all attendees.

To register, please click here or utilize the QR code below:

Event Schedule

13:00 – Doors Open

13:15 – Welcome Address

13:30 – Panel 1 – The Alliance Turns 70: Reflections on the Past and Hopes for the Future

14:30 – Refreshments

15:00 – Panel 2 – South Korea’s Seesaw: Balancing US-China Competition in Regional Security

16:00 – Reception

17:30 – Doors Close


Wi Sunglac is Secretary-General of the Korea Peace Foundation. As a retired diplomat with a 36-year career in the Foreign Service of the Republic of Korea, he assumed many posts that directly related to North American Affairs and the North Korean nuclear issue. His assignments included the Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Korean Embassy in the US, the Chief negotiator in the Six-Party Talks, and the Special Representative for the Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs. Most recently, he was the Ambassador to Russia. After retirement, he taught at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, Seoul National University.

Mr. Wi studied international relations at Seoul National University, studied Russia and the Russian language at Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and has published books titled A Proposal to Upgrade Korean Diplomacy and The Russia Report.


Ji-Young Lee is an Associate Professor of International Relations at American University’s School of International Service, where she holds the C. W. Lim and Korea Foundation Professorship of Korean Studies. Trained as a political scientist, she has written on Asian historical international relations, regional security order and the U.S. alliance network in East Asia, and South Korean foreign policy. She is the author of China’s Hegemony: Four Hundred Years of East Asian Domination (Columbia University Press, 2016). Her current book project, The Great Power Next Door (under contract with Columbia University Press), is a historically informed analysis of when and how China has chosen to militarily intervene in the Korean Peninsula. She has published articles in journals, including Security StudiesInternational Relations of the Asia-Pacific, the Pacific Review, the Australian Journal of International Affairs, the Journal of East Asian Studies, and the Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law.

She previously taught at Oberlin College as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics and East Asian Studies. Outside academia, she served as the inaugural Korea Policy Chair and a Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation and was a non-resident James Kelly Korean Studies Fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS. Dr. Lee received her PhD and Master’s from Georgetown University, an MA from Seoul National University, and a BA from Ewha Womans University.


Seungjoo Lee is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Chung-Ang University (Seoul, Korea), Chair of the Trade, Technology, and Transformation Research Center at the East Asia Institute, and Senior Research Affiliate at the Berkeley APEC Study Center (BASC) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Economic Security and Foreign Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), a member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Ministry of National Defense, and Chief of Review Board at the National Research Foundation. Previously Seungjoo was an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore. He has also held various positions in academic associations in Korea such as the Korean Association of International Studies and the Korean Political Science Association. He is the co-author of The Political Economy of Change and Continuity in Korea: Twenty Years after the Crisis. He has also edited, among other works, Korea’s Middle Power Diplomacy, International Political Economy in Cyberspace, International Politics of Belt and Road, and Trade Policy in the Asia-Pacific. His publications have appeared in various journals such as Comparative Political Studies, The Pacific Review, Asian Survey, Natural Hazards Review, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Korean Journal of International Studies and Korean Political Science Review. His current research focuses on the economy-security nexus, economic statecraft, the U.S.-China technology competition, and global digital governance. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ma Sang Yoon is Professor of International Relations at the Catholic University of Korea. Formerly, he was Director-General for Strategy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. Professor Ma studied at Seoul National University and University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis at Oxford analyzed U.S. policy toward Korea during the 1960s focusing on the question of democracy. His main areas of research are East Asian international politics, U.S. foreign policy, Korea-U.S. relations and Cold War history.



Daniel Bessner is currently an Associate Professor in International Studies at the University of Washington. He is a member of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and was previously the Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship in Western Civilization and Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Associate Professor in American Foreign Policy. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, an Associate of the Alameda Institute, and a Contributing Editor at Jacobin. In 2019-2020, he served as a foreign policy advisor to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Daniel is an intellectual historian of U.S. foreign relations. He is the author of Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Cornell, 2018), which you may order here. He is also co-editor, with Nicolas Guilhot, of The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science, and Democracy in the Twentieth Century (Berghahn, 2019).

Daniel is the co-host of the foreign affairs podcast American Prestige and has appeared on several national television shows, including HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and CNN’s Smerconish. In addition to his scholarship, he has published pieces in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, n+1, and other venues.

David Bachman is a Professor at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. He was chair of the China Studies Program from 1992-2003 and Associate Director of the Jackson School from 2000-2001 and 2003-2010. He has returned as the Associate Director of JSIS since July 2022. His research and teaching interests address Chinese Domestic and Foreign Policy, International Political Economy, Asian Politics, International Relations, and U.S. – China Relations.


Anand Yang is Professor of International Studies and History at the University of Washington, Seattle. Between 2002 and 2010, he was Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and the Golub Chair of International Studies. Prior to joining UW in 2002, Yang taught at Sweet Briar College and the University of Utah, where he was chair of the History Department and, subsequently, Director of its Asian Studies Program.

Clark W. Sorensen is Professor Emeritus of the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Prior to his retirement in 2020, Clark was Professor of International Studies at JSIS since 1992. Sorensen led the Korea Program and Center of Korea Studies as chair and inaugural director for over 15 years.  He held adjunct appointments in Anthropology and Women’s Studies, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Korean Studies.

Master of Ceremonies

Yong-Chool Ha is the Director of the Center for Korea Studies and Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Social Science at the University of Washington. His primary academic interests address comparative politics and society with a particular focus on late industrializing nations (Korea, Japan, Prussia, China and the Soviet Union), Soviet and Russian politics, Russian Far East Korean domestic and international politics, inter-Korean Relations and East Asian regional politics, and international theories in East Asia.