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Grudging Partner: South Korea's Response to U.S. Security Policies

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As one of the U.S strongest allies in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has strategic and economic interests in maintaining close relations with the United States, and welcomes increased U.S. commitment to the region. South Korea supports the U.S. policy of forward military presence as a critical deterrent against North Koreas continuing military threat, and may accept U.S. military presence on the unified Korean Peninsula, though on a smaller scale, because it sees the U.S. role as a stabilizer against other regional powers such as China and Japan. Since President Bush took office, differences over North Korea policy have strained the relations between the United States and South Korea. Seoul s tendency to focus on North Korean intention with its nuclear program as a deterrent and bargaining tool creates a rift with Washington which focuses on Pyongyangs nuclear capabilities as a direct, immediate threat. l South Koreas position toward the U.S. missile defense initiative ambivalent at best as it tries not to offend either China or North Korea. The U.S. policy of preemption and the perceived unilateralist tendencies of Washington worry Seoul as it fears that those policies could lead to a disastrous war with North Korea at the expense of South Korean security and prosperity. l Differences between the United States and South Korea over North Korea policy exacerbates anti-American sentiment in the mainstream South Korean public, which views the United States as an obstacle to inter-Korean reconciliation and unification. The election of a new president in the ROK, who publicly disagreed with U.S. policies during his campaign, has complicated both alliance management and coordination of North Korea policy.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Defense Systems

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