U.S. President Joe Biden in Seoul, South Korea, December 2013
Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

For the first time in 20 years, the United States and South Korea both have left-of-center presidents. The pairing of President Joe Biden and President Moon Jae-in might seem at first blush to forecast a stronger alliance, especially after President Donald Trump’s abrasive leadership style cast doubt on the bedrock of Washington’s relationship with Seoul: mutual respect and the United States’ commitment to South Korea’s security. But there are fissures in the U.S.–South Korean alliance that will outlast Trump.

In contrast to their conservative counterparts, the progressives in Moon’s government wish to maintain a significant

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