On December 1, 2021, a panel of subject matter experts gathered at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu to discuss the evolving United States and Republic of Korea alliance. The symposium, sponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu and the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS), aimed to foster continued discussion on opportunities presented in this year’s U.S. ROK Presidential Summit.

Titled “The Roles of the U.S. ROK Alliance in the Indo-Pacific,” the symposium brought together speakers from both U.S. and Korean academic institutions to provide perspectives from each country.

“We are at a time of change in the Indo-Pacific, structural change, because of the growing competition between the U.S. and China,” said Dr. Victor Cha, panelist and Professor of Government at Georgetown University.  “So it becomes very important in groups like this to get people who are connected to both military and policy to have very candid discussions to new and changing policy.”

While the threat of North Korea and the ever-growing influence of China remained an important focus, the panelists proposed meaningful cooperation in a myriad of other topics that included emerging technologies, developing supply chains, improving partnership with Japan, and maritime security in the South China Sea.

“Korea and the U.S. are both maritime countries,” said Seok-in Heong, Consul-General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu. “The South China Sea is a very important trade route for Korea. Peace and stability in this region is so important. I am very committed to continue these kind of discussions to send a message not just to the people on this island but to the main audience in Korea and the mainland United States.

For DKI APCSS, the symposium was yet another in a series of hybrid engagements that have included both online and in-person attendees.  Over 40 persons attended the symposium virtually while 25 attended in person. The online participants brought an international audience who represented, amongst others, the Hawaii State legislature, the University of Mandalay, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense, and the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“In times like this COVID situation,” said Dr. Sheen Seong-ho, panelist and Professor of International Security, Seoul National University. “This is a very special opportunity to come together.”