Country Reports

Relations with the United States took center stage as South Koreans eyed the formation of the Biden administration, while phone conversations with President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the arrival of a new South Korean ambassador in Tokyo widened the scope of foreign policy concern. The focus of ROK-US relations shifted from joint military exercises (and their impact on North Korea) to a cabinet reshuffle (and the US response) to the annual NSC briefing in Seoul to US policy on North Korea, and finally, to the finalization of the SMA (Special Measures Agreement). As for China, coordination on North Korea was foremost, but there was also a warning against joining the Quad. In the case of Japan, the challenge remained to bring life back to troubled bilateral relations.

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