March 13, 2006
The U.S.-ROK alliance is at a turning point. South Korea has become a modern, vibrant democracy and a dynamic economy with global reach. Despite the nuclear crisis with North Korea, inter-Korean reconciliation has taken root and South Korea feels confident enough to seek a more independent stance vis-à-vis its neighbors. This confidence has exposed a real divide in views in Washington and Seoul about China, North Korea, and Japan. Ironically, at a time when the two societies have converged and have the capacities to be real partners based on shared democratic and free market values, many wonder if the glue that binds them has dissolved and whether their alliance will survive.