Frank Aum is the senior expert on Northeast Asia at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He oversees the Institute’s work on Northeast Asia and focuses on ways to strengthen diplomacy to reduce tensions and enhance peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. From 2010 to 2017, he worked at the Department of Defense, including as special counsel to the Army General Counsel, special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, and senior advisor on North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this time, he advised four secretaries of defense on issues related to Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula. Aum also served as head of delegation for working level negotiations with the Republic of Korea on U.S.-ROK Alliance matters, and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Aum previously worked as a corporate attorney, and also has extensive experience in the public and non-profit sectors. He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Jeju Island, South Korea and worked as a speechwriter in the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, he worked to strengthen the Koreatown community in Los Angeles at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Korean American Coalition (KAC).

Aum received his bachelor's from Dartmouth College, his master's from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Publications By Frank

Biden’s Asia Trip Seeks to Revitalize Alliances, Focus on China

Biden’s Asia Trip Seeks to Revitalize Alliances, Focus on China

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Mirna Galic;  Rachel Vandenbrink

President Biden made his first trip to East Asia beginning late last week, visiting South Korea and Japan, where he participated in a leader’s summit of the so-called Quad, which includes Australia, Japan and India. The president’s visit is part of a flurry of Asia-focused diplomatic initiatives in recent weeks including the U.S.-ASEAN summit, the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue and an upcoming speech from Secretary of State Blinken, which is expected to lay out the contours of the administration’s China Policy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Frank Aum on Biden’s Visit to South Korea and Japan

Frank Aum on Biden’s Visit to South Korea and Japan

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By: Frank Aum

Amid a flurry of Asia diplomatic initiatives, USIP’s Frank Aum says President Biden’s trip is a chance to show the United States is committed to having a major presence in the Indo-Pacific, but that “this is not something that happens in a single summit… We’re going to have to continue to strengthen those efforts.”

Type: Podcast

Global Policy

South Korea and Japan Need to Reset Relations. Can the United States Help?

South Korea and Japan Need to Reset Relations. Can the United States Help?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Sang-ok Park;  Ambassador Joseph Yun

In April 2022, a South Korean delegation representing President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo to help reset bilateral ties that have frayed in recent years over unresolved issues like wartime forced labor and sexual slavery. The delegation head told reporters that the trip’s goal was to fasten “the first button of a new Korea-Japan relationship,” referring to the proverb that incorrectly fastening the first button on a jacket will cause subsequent ones to go astray.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Is an End-of-War Declaration for the Korean Peninsula a Risk Worth Taking?

Is an End-of-War Declaration for the Korean Peninsula a Risk Worth Taking?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

By: Frank Aum

As efforts to resume nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang go nowhere, the concept of an end-of-war declaration for the Korean Peninsula has become a polarizing topic in both Washington and Seoul. USIP’s Frank Aum explains how it could serve Washington and Seoul’s interests, how such a declaration could advance the peace process between North and South Korea, what risks it could pose and how the U.S. Congress could play a role in shaping such a declaration.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

By: Frank Aum

North Korea announced on September 13 that it had tested long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. It described the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance.” The test caused alarm in North Korea’s neighbors — South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies — as the revelation now puts both countries within striking distance. But despite the test, a spokesperson for the Biden administration said the United States remains prepared to engage with North Korea. USIP’s Frank Aum discusses the significance of the tests, the arms race on the Korean Peninsula, and what signals North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be sending to the United States with this latest test. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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