Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2014

School

Helms School of Government

Major

International Relations

Disciplines

American Politics | Asian Studies | Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Political Science

Abstract

The relationship between the United States and the Republic of South Korea requires reexamination due to the recent U.S. foreign policy shift from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region. The nature of the relationship has altered considerably over the past 70 years. South Korea is a leading country in East Asia, and a strengthened partnership could have many benefits for the United States. South Korea tends to be overlooked in foreign policy discussions because of the security concerns posed by North Korea; but South Korea possesses many qualities which could be utilized to the advantage of U.S. foreign policy. The South Korean economy continues to grow in both the Asian and international markets. In the scientific and educational arenas, South Korea is producing top scientists, technological innovations and educated professionals. Geographically, the Korean peninsula is a strategic location unparalleled by other U.S. partners in the region. Politically, the United States was instrumental in helping South Korea develop into the modern democratic republic it is today. This positively impacts the current U.S.-South Korean relationship and makes South Korea a venue for exporting democratic ideas to other Asian nations. Culturally, South Korea is a major influencer in East Asia with a Christian tradition that is shared in many ways with the United States. Both militaries have a history of working together and U.S. troops have held bases in South Korea for over half a century. Finally, the longstanding alliance of South Korea and the United States impacts all negotiations with North Korea, and the security of the Korean peninsula. After consideration of these major factors, through subject matter experts, state documents and geo-political forecasts, the final analysis suggests that South Korea will be the United States’ most important strategic partner for the foreseeable future.