The economic case for the South Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) has been variously described as a “slam dunk,” a “pareto-optimal solution,” and “an easy ‘yes.’” However, aside from the economic arguments for KORUS, recent events in the Korean peninsula make approval of the agreement more important than ever.
On November 23, a North Korean artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong Island killed two civilians and two marines. Earlier this month, the country revealed a covert uranium enrichment facility that could be used to strengthen its nuclear arsenal. In August, North Korea fired 110 artillery shells into Yeongpyeong and another island. In March, North Korea torpedoed the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, resulting in 46 deaths.
In the face of these threats, President Obama should present a show of support for our South Korean friends by asking Congress to approve KORUS. In addition to unleashing mutually beneficial economic rewards, such a move would demonstrate the willingness of the United States to back one of our country’s key strategic allies.