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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

KORUS chorus

The official launch of "Korea matters for America / America matters for Korea", a East West Center - ASAN Institute co-production, was the perfect occasion to celebrate 60+ years of friendship between Korea and the US.

Actually, an earlier launch event titled "Korea and the United States: 60 Years of Partnership Going Forward" took place on the other side of the big pond on December 11th last year, at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Along with the Ambassador of the ROK to the US AHN Ho-young, five Congresspeople attended the Washington, DC launch: Colleen HANABUSA (R-HI), Mike HONDA (D-CA - we already mentioned this great man in "Silver lining, darker clouds"), Mike KELLY (R-PA), David REICHERT (R-WA), Peter ROSKAM (R-IL). East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Hawaii... you name it!

This morning at the ASAN Institute Seoul HQ, Dr. HAHM Chaibong* welcomed among other dignitaries the US Ambassador to Korea Sung KIM, and two influent members of the National Assembly: HWANG Jin-ha (Vice-Chairman of the Korea-US Inter-Parliamentary Council), and KIM Jong-hoon (Mr KORUS FTA in the eyes of many Koreans - whatever love/hatred they put in the label).

No need to convince Seoul-born US Ambassador to Korea Sung KIM that Korea matters for America and vice versa

General KIM Jae-chang (Ret. ROKA, Chairman of the Council on ROK-US Security Studies), Ambassador KIM in the foreground. Among the other speakers, AMCHAM President Amy Jackson.

KIM Jong-hoon (here at the roundtable with Dr. CHOI Kang, Ambassador CHUN Yung-woo, and Dr. Satu LIMAYE) lamented over free trade's loss of momentum globally, and more locally for the Korea-Japan-China FTA (particularly thanks to Shinzo ABE**)

Congratulatory speeches set aside, what's "Korea matters for America / America matters for Korea"? A brochure and a platform, part of the "Asia matters for America" initiative created by Dr. Satu LIMAYE, the Director of the East-West Center in Washington. Note that EWC's HQ are truly between continental US and Asia, in the very Korean friendly State of Hawaii.

The bilingual, 34-page brochure co-produced by the two think tanks is a perfect tool to convince any reader of the trueness of its title. Yes, Korea matters for America and America matters for Korea, and at all levels - particularly the four that matter to Ambassador KIM: security, politics and diplomacy, personal and cultural relations, economy.

As a bonus to a brochure mixing perfectly graphics, maps, and statistics, we received a map of the US exports to Korea at the US congressional district level, which is much more precise than the State level. For instance, you can spot Mike HONDA's District, CA-17, the biggest exporter to Korea with $892M in 2012, and a key part of the Sillicon Valley (any famous company from Cupertino in mind, starting with App and ending in le(gal)?).

Beyond the brochure, the platform (where, of course, you can download the brochure). is the US-Korea part of the Asia matters for America portal that also covers bilateral relations with China, Japan, India & Co:

In this trove of knowledge, any representative, constituent, businessman or decision maker can measure the value of Asian countries in each congressional district. 

Take for instance Texas 32, another key exporter to Korea - that's NE Dallas around Highland Park, Mesquite, University Park, Garland... and of course Richardson's telecom corridor, home to Samsung Telecommunications America, Inc. You learn that semiconductors and components represent half of the exports to Asia, but also that Asian Americans make up 6% of the population (with more Vietnamese than Koreans), that visitors from Asia bring $120 M to the travel and tourism industry, that Dallas has sister city relationships with Tianjin....

Today, we heard a lot about security, politics, and economy, but of course, it's always about the people. At the top leadership as well as the citizens level, what matters most is the people, and it's no wonder these two think tanks collaborated on this project.

Seoul Village 2014
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* whom we last saw chatting on stage with a POTUS (see "W. at The Shilla for Chosun")

** BTW Leif-Eric, I might eat my hat after all: a PARK Geun-hye - ABE Shinzo does seem more likely than I thought in the short term!

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