http://www.nbr.org - NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Korea: A Peninsula in Crisis and Flux

Victor D. Cha

This chapter evaluates the links binding the U.S.-led war on terrorism with South Korean (ROK) grand strategy and North Korean (DPRK) nuclear proliferation. The ROK’s grand strategic direction between remaining "anchored" within the U.S. alliance framework or cutting "adrift" toward a continental accommodation with China remains in flux, contrasting starkly with the clarity of the DPRK’s strategic objective of regime survival through economic reform and nuclear weapons. The war on terrorism is an important metric of the ROK’s strategic direction and the DPRK’s proliferation efforts. Despite pronounced domestic ambivalence, the ROK has been a supporter of the war on terrorism. There is less accord between the ROK and the United States in dealing with North Korea: the United States now views the nuclear problem through post-September 11 lenses while the ROK views it through summit reconciliation lenses. The chapter investigates variables that might close this gap.