The United States and South Korea: A Troubled Alliance

The United States and South Korea: A Troubled Alliance

Whatever the fate of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the strained relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) over this and other security issues make clear the need for both countries to take action to reinvigorate their bilateral defense alliance.

During the past decade, relations between South Korea and the United States have deteriorated considerably. South Koreans appreciate having an American defense guarantee, both for helping them deter a possible North Korean attack and for enhancing their leverage vis-à-vis China and Japan. Yet, they oppose American military threats against North Korea and U.S. efforts to isolate Pyongyang as a pariah regime.

A complicating factor throughout the recent U.S.-ROK deliberations regarding North Korea has been Washington's greater concern about Pyongyang's non-nuclear policies. Unlike their ROK counterparts, U.S. officials have regularly denounced North Korea's efforts to develop long-range ballistic missiles and engage in transnational criminal activities. One of the main goals of the U.S. national missile defense program is to counter a possible North Korean missile threat against U.S. territory. American policy makers also more frequently express fear that the economically strapped North Koreans might sell weapons of mass destruction to terrorists or other rogue states. Until recently, senior administration officials openly opined that the only lasting solution to the threats emanating from North Korea would be a change in its regime.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review