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Professional Negotiations in Korea


(Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.)

"Negotiating with the Korean military is intense. And it's boisterous and it's challenging and it can get very involved. It can go for long marathon sessions. Within a context of professional respect, politeness, courtesy to rank—but often, if you are an officer in the Combined Forces Command at USFK and you are working on something that's being negotiated with ROK military counterparts, be it a ROK service headquarters or at the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Ministry of National Defense, you're often going to find yourself negotiating with somebody who is one rank ahead of you. That's not unusual. You have to frame how you work with them on a basis of professional respect for that individual's rank and their position, but at the same time understanding that you represent the position of the United States military, and you're not speaking from your own rank, you're speaking from an empowered position of trying to seek a result for the headquarters. But I've also found that the people with which I had the most difficult negotiating relationships, they were some of my favorite Korean officers. Having these challenging experiences, these tough negotiations, these potentially confrontational sessions—professionally confrontational—you develop good relationships, and generally there's a sense of mutual respect that comes out of that."

A service member discusses professional negotiations with Korean counterparts.