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The Autonomy-Utility Nexus in Korea’s US Policies : Focusing on the 10 Years of the Progressive Governments

  • The Journal of Northeast Asia Research
  • Abbr : NEA
  • 2015, 30(2), pp.5-33
  • DOI : 10.18013/jnar.2015.30.2.001
  • Publisher : The Institute for Northeast Asia Research
  • Research Area : Social Science > Political Science > International Politics > International Relations / Cooperation

Joonhyung Kim 1

1한동대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Korea’s policy toward the United States during Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun administrations has been often depicted as an anti-US or anti-alliance model of autonomy – to improve the inter-Korean relations at the expense of the ROK-US alliance. The main purpose of this article is to argue that such characterization wrongly places the government in a policy spectrum between autonomy and alliance. Put differently, this kind of generalization overlooks how the 10 years of the progressive governments also continued to value the ROK-US alliance. To establish the argument, this proposes a model of autonomy-utility nexus to describe the policies. In the context of the post-Cold War security environments, the two progressive governments sought to increase its autonomy in the inter-Korean relations, while readjusting yet clearly maintaining the ROK-US alliance, as the alliance continues to be central to the security of ROK. On the basis of the framework, this article also observes and compares how the debate on Korea’s US policies have become polarized into the misleading ideology-laden dichotomy between autonomy and alliance during the conservative Lee Myung Bak and Park Geun-Hye administrations.

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