Seoul, South Korea—Session IVa of UPF’s Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference was held on August 12, 2022, at the Lotte Hotel World in Seoul, Korea. Two former U.S. ambassadors, a retired U.S. military commander, a former Taiwanese vice president, a member of academia and several senior leaders from The Washington Times were among the speakers at the event, which featured a special briefing on the UPF Fact-Finding Delegation for Peace on the Korean Peninsula and on The Washington Times 40th Anniversary.
Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of UPF International, served as the moderator. He reported that The Washington Times and UPF have been conducting fact-finding tours since 2014, meeting with foreign ministers; secretaries of defense; and the National Intelligence Service, the chief intelligence agency of South Korea, among others. This has continued to enable The Washington Times staff to improve reporting and op-ed writing on Korea.
Amb. Joseph DeTrani, U.S. special envoy for six-party talks with the DPRK (2003-2006), stated that, according to the fact-finding trip, the South Korean government, under President Yoon Suk-yeol, and the U.S. government, under President Joe Biden, are proponents of enhancing deterrence and communicating to North Korea that there will be consequences if their behavior continues to escalate. The fact-finding delegation was assured that the Republic of Korea (ROK) is encouraging North Korea to move towards inter-Korea relations, a confederation and eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
Amb. DeTrani went on to say that the ROK favors a free and open Indo-Pacific and Taiwan Strait because of the economic advantages it provides. The ROK also seeks to maintain good relations with China, a major trading partner, and the ROK foreign minister met with his Chinese counterpart. He continued, saying that the delegation learned so much: ”The key...is [to listen]. You can learn. That is what we are here for.”
Amb. Harry Harris, U.S. ambassador to Korea (2018-2021) and commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (2015-2018), spoke about diplomacy on the peninsula and its relevance to peace. He stated that diplomacy, diplomats and alliances matter. North Korea and China will continuously test the resolve of the U.S.-ROK alliance and seek ways to weaken it.
Amb. Harris outlined four North Korean objectives: to obtain sanctions relief, to keep their nuclear weapons, to sever the U.S.-ROK alliance, and to govern the peninsula. He stressed that the quest for dialogue with North Korea must not be made at the expense of the ability to respond to threats from it. Dialogue and military readiness must go hand-in-hand, and idealism must be rooted in realism. Relaxing sanctions or reducing military exercises must not be preconditions for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. He is encouraged by South Korean President Yoon’s intention to make the U.S.-ROK alliance the centerpiece of his foreign policy. He places primacy on defending the ROK from any North Korean threats, which means a return to joint military exercises and an emphasis on readiness and outreach to Japan.
Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the United Nations Command, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea (2008-2011), commented on four elements of power required for peaceful reunification: diplomacy, information, the military and economic components. The military component provides deterrence and stability to help ensure that diplomacy and the other elements of power can contribute toward peaceful reunification. The U.S.-ROK military alliance, which has been in place since the Korean War, is the strongest alliance the United States has in the world.
He stated that North Korea has a huge conventional military poised just north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that is ready to attack. Their 6,000 medium- and long-range artillery systems pose a significant danger. North Korea has also demonstrated cyber capability, and their weapons have increased in accuracy and sophistication. A military alliance will need to be strong against all such threats.
Gen. Sharp listed five aspects of strength and continued growth over the next several years in the U.S.-ROK alliance:
- The ROK military is modern, well-equipped and experienced, having participated in many UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
- The U.S.-ROK combined forces command is unique—it is one unit. The combined forces plan together, conduct exercises together and work together.
- The U.N. Command, which led all troops during the Korean War, still exists. With 18 nations around the world participating, the U.N. Command’s purpose today is to be able to train, to help once conflict starts, and to plan for contingencies before conflict starts.
- The combined military exercises in the ROK, which have restarted, are critical. U.S. forces rotate in participation, so a continuous training regime is essential to ensure the Combined Forces are ready and detering North Korea.
- In the trilateral cooperation between the ROK, the U.S. and Japan, Japan brings great capability. A conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be regional and likely global, making Japan’s cooperation crucial.
In order to achieve peaceful reunification, diplomacy, information, military and economic powers need to work together. Gen. Sharp expressed confidence in the military alliance’s ability to do so.
Dr. Michael Jenkins commented that the U.S.-ROK alliance has developed over the years. If South Korea is attacked, the ROK general is in command, not the U.S. general. Nevertheless, if the United States and the U.N. Command have to get involved, there is still a balanced structure to fall on that was built over years.
Dr. Alexandre Mansourov, adjunt professor of security studies at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, offered a few conclusions from the fact-finding trip:
First, South Korea views the U.S.-ROK alliance as ironclad. It is moving into becoming a global comprehensive strategic alliance that is multi-dimensional, covering not only military and security aspects, but also economic, informational and cultural.
Second, the South Korean government is concerned about China’s growing belligerent nature and its possible impact on Taiwan. It is also concerned the situation on the Korean Peninsula may embolden North Korea, as a Chinese proxy, to take rash action across the DMZ.
Third, along with a reduced concern over the possibility of the next nuclear test by Pyongyang, the ROK government strongly denied all accusations by the North Korean government that Seoul used biological weapons to contaminate the North Korean population with the COVID-19 virus. North Korea used these accusations as rationale for potential utilization of biological weapons in the future.
Dr. Mansourov also reported on the emerging nontraditional threat from North Korea, the cyber threat. In some instances, proceeds from cyber theft were used to fund their weapons-of-mass-destruction programs.
Finally, Dr. Mansourav was pleased to see greater diversity in the ROK goverment, with women now represented in teams from every ministry. He also observed increased transparency, which reflects a new degree of mutual trust between the South Korean administration and their U.S. counterparts.
Dr. Michael Jenkins noted that there were two other members of the delegation: Beth Van Dyne, a congresswoman from Texas, and Mr. Andrew Kim, a CIA station chief for Korea.
Dr. Annette Lu, vice president of Taiwan (2000-2008), stated that according to the People Republic’s of China (PRC)’s One China principle, there is one China, which includes Taiwan. However, since 1895, when China signed a treaty with Japan to cede Taiwan in perpetuity, Taiwan has not belonged to China. Moreover, since its establishment, the PRC has never exercised a day of jurisdiction over Taiwan.
However, Taiwanese and Chinese do share culture and language, as many Taiwanese have ethnic heritage from China. With this context, Dr. Lu proposed two changes: First, change the One China policy into One Chinese “Yīgè Zhōnghuá,” because the term “Zhōnghuá” encompasses Chinese ethnicity and culture. Most Taiwanese would accept this because of close Chinese racial ties. Second, change the term “unification” to “integration.” By claiming unification, China will annex Taiwan, which Taiwanese would not accept. However, applying the idea of integration—based on the foundation that citizens of both countries are close and share the same heritage—could foster a friendly environment and greater exchange, understanding and cooperation.
Dr. Lu spoke further on the proposed establishment of a Chinese union or commonwealth that would bring Taiwan, Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang together under the name of “Zhōnghuá bānglián,” Chinese confederation. She urged the United States to take action supporting democratic countries—including Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore and all democracies in the Pacific region—to form a Democratic Pacific Union or Commonwealth that would be based on soft power rather than hard power. Taiwan, Japan and Korea have similarities, namely Confucianism and democracy. Through the integration of Taiwan, Korea and Japan—together with the leadership of the United States and Canada—the Pacific Democratic Union could become a cradle for soft power that would enrich East Asia and the wider world. Asian philosophy says it is not enough to win a war—it is more important to organize and invest in peace to prevent it.
Dr. Lu’s next step will be to announce a new NGO: The Taiwanese Society for Peace and Justice. According to a poll, about 67% percent of Taiwanese refuse to be ruled by the PRC. However, 73% of Taiwanese would maintain good and peaceful relations with China.
Dr. Michael Jenkins commented that the Taiwan Relations Act is an agreement from the United States to protect, support, and ensure the freedom of Taiwan.
Mr. Thomas McDevitt, chairman of The Washington Times, commented on the timing of the fact-finding trip, particularly as it coincided with the start of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s administration, which includes a new cabinet and new leaders. Moreover, it took place at a time when China has been encircling Taiwan, there is war between Russia and Ukraine, the tragic passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe occurred, and the 10th Anniversary of Rev. Moon’s passing is being observed.
Mr. McDevitt also noted that this is the 40th year anniversary of The Washington Times, which was founded on May 17, 1982. The Washington Times printed a special report on its history and legacy. It can compete with The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, he continued, because of the integrity and excellence of its journalism.
Mr. McDevitt concluded by sharing that the fact-finding delegation was accorded a high level of interest and respect on the part of major Korean government leaders. The briefings highlighted the global, multifaceted network behind every delegate who not only cares but is also willing to take action.
Mr. Christopher Dolan, president and executive editor of The Washington Times, outlined the history leading up to the founding of The Washington Times newspaper. He stated that not long after World War II ended, war erupted between the Koreas and divided the peninsula into two countries: a socialistic dictatorship to the north and a representative democratic republic to the south. From that division emerged Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a religious leader whose experiences during and after the wars forged an undying commitment to the importance of the American experiment and its founding values grounded in freedom of speech and religion, the antithesis of the controlling communism he suffered under. In 1982, the Washington Star folded, making the capital of the free world a “one-newspaper” town. As the Cold War raged, Rev. Moon came forward to fill this void and started The Washington Times.
Mr. Dolan remarked that 40 years later, The Washington Times remains a strong voice dedicated to promoting freedom, family and faith. It was founded to take on mass media’s power to omit and ignore reporting arguments it did not like. Today, unfortunately, the threat remains. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, Rev. Moon’s wife and the co-founder of UPF, has remained committed to the role of The Washington Times in defending freedom, promoting family values, and ensuring a robust, informed debate globally in the next 40 years. She is steadfast in her hope that goodwill will reignite the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Charles Hurt, opinion editor at The Washington Times, stated that faith is important— whether publishing a newspaper or governing a country—because it is the means by which we declare that our rights come directly from God, not from any king or government. When the world is viewed through that lens, it strengthens resolve in the fight for peace.
Mr. Hurt said he admired the people of South Korea for their sense of duty, diligence and industry, which America, as a long-time superpower, can lose if it becomes too comfortable. Because of the leadership position of the United States, if a void develops, dictatorships would fill its place.
Mr. Hurt added that if there is a group of people whose rights come directly from God and they are charged with governing themselves, then there would need to be a diverse and vibrant media that informs those people, because there cannot be self-governance unless the electorate is fully informed. The lack of diversity in U.S. media is the greatest governance problem facing the country, both in partisan politics and in their outlook on the world. Because of the gift of diversity given by Rev. Moon and maintained by Dr. Moon through The Washington Times, it has a responsibility to fulfill its leadership role with the rest of the world.