The US should pursue diplomacy and engagement first and foremost to achieve security and peace on the Korean Peninsula. We see this as a critical step toward bringing a formal end to the Korean War. As the United States, not South Korea, was the signatory to the ceasefire agreement, the US holds the key to the future of the Korean Peninsula.
Korea was split in half by the United States and the Soviet Union following WWII. Over 33,000 American soldiers died during the Korean War (1950-1953) and over one million Korean civilians died during the conflict. Since 1950, the US and North Korea have still been technically at war.
North Korea continues to be a challenge to regional and global security. KAA believes that another armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be a catastrophe. It would entangle the second and third largest economies, China and Japan, as well as Russia, and threaten world stability.
North Korea matters to Korean Americans for several reasons. The current situation with North Korea represents, at once, one of our greatest security threats but also a once-in-a-lifetime peacemaking opportunity of historic proportions. Second, media saturation about North Korea raises our community’s profile in the mainstream simply by association. Third, many Korean Americans have some connection to the North whether directly through their lineage or by simply having lived through the war or its after-effects.
As a community that is only one or two generations away from the terrible consequences of war, the prospect of reconciliation and peace is breathtaking. If peace can be achieved, major dividends would be realized. These dividends relate to human rights, humanitarian efforts, and economic development for the North Korean people.
Our approach to North Korea reflects bipartisan thinking. We support a strong military and the use of appropriate economic sanctions to pressure the North Korean regime from further destabilizing international security. But we also believe there is no substitute for diplomacy and engagement in achieving the ultimate goal of denuclearization, reconciliation, and peace.
KAA fully supports the US to eventually sign a peace treaty with North Korea under the right conditions. One of these conditions is for the interests of Korean Americans to be incorporated into the peace process. Following a peace treaty, KAA supports future policies and funding to bring North Korea into the international community and supporting its membership in international institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.