Who’s in control?

If you’re a Korea news buff, you’ve probably been reading about plans to transfer wartime control of Korean armed forces on the Korean Peninsula from the United States to South Korea.  The U.S. plans to transfer wartime control to the Korean military in 2009, enabling South Korea to assert its authority in the event of renewed hostilities with North Korea.  Interestingly, it seems to be one of the few times when the ruling Uri Party and the United States seem to be in agreement, while the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) remains opposed in principle.  Both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Korean President Roh Moo-hyun have expressed support for the plan, while a number of Korean dignitaries, including GNP leaders, former Korean defense ministers, and retired Korean generals have come out in opposition of the plan.  Reasons for opposing the transfer range from a lack of national consensus, the "hastiness" of the transition, and the assumed cost of the transfer to Korea.  I have no opinion on the transfer itself, but I wanted to point out that it is very ironic that the U.S. and the Roh Administration are in agreement–on a contentious military issue, no less–while the GNP, which is traditionally a strong supporter of the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, opposes the agreement.  One wonders whether Roh and the Uri Party have thoroughly assessed the implications of this transfer beyond the fact that empowers Korea in the event of an outbreak of hostilities with the North.

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