Alliance theory and Northeast Asia: Challenges on the 60th Anniversary of the Korea-U.S. Alliance

Ihn Hwi Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


An alliance system is often compared to a living organism in that the equilibrium point of the alliance constantly changes. The Korea-U.S. alliance is no exception, having adapted to the post-Cold War international security environment and continually seeking a new alliance vision. Based on the assumption that the Cold-War security threats still exist, Korea chose to consolidate its bilateral alliance with the United States in lieu of multilateralism or confidence-building measures among regional states. The problem, however, is that while the Korea-U.S. alliance has evolved into a relationship that encompasses economic, social and cultural cooperation in the post-Cold War period, South Korea's core security interest-the improvement of inter-Korean relations and the realization of peace on the Korean Peninsula- cannot be attained. This is because the strengthening of Korea-U.S. military deterrence against North Korea can unintentionally justify North Korea's nuclear development as well as constant reproduction of crisis, on the grounds that it intensifies the threat perception of the North. At this time of its sixtieth anniversary, the goals and identity of the Korea-U.S. alliance need to be reconsidered in order to reflect the changing security situation. While maintaining the deterrence against the North through an elaborate cooperation system, the alliance needs to set more creative goals that include the realization of human security on the Korean Peninsula or the formation of a Northeast Asian security community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Korean Peninsula
  • North Korea
  • Northeast Asian security
  • Nuclear problem
  • ROK-U.S. alliance


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