Policy Paper

Dealing with North Korea: The Key Foreign Policy and Security Challenge for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

in Program


Occasional Paper 49

by Alan D. Romberg

This paper was published by Alan Romberg in preparation for the New Strategy Institute of Korea Colloquium on “Korea-U.S. Alliance: Reaffirming the Cooperative Partnership” in Seoul on June 12, 2003. An excerpt is provided below. Click on the PDF link above for the full article.

“Despite ROK President Roh Moo-hyun’s successful visit to the United States, and the very artful joint statement issued following his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on May 14, 2003, the alliance partners have so far only papered over their fundamental differences on how to approach North Korea and what steps to take if the situation deteriorates. Not only is there a wide gap on the issue of how or even whether to negotiate with Pyongyang beyond the most general commitment to resolve the issue peacefully, but in important respects the goals of the two governments diverge sharply. In this circumstance, it will be a major challenge to both manage the North Korean problem and to maintain and hopefully strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance. It is clear that both Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush value the alliance and that they have established a certain level of personal rapport that will help navigate the difficult course ahead. But unless the North Korean nuclear issue can be resolved through diplomacy and as of this writing that is at least questionable there is a significant probability that heightened tensions with North Korea will strain ties between Washington and Seoul. This paper addresses some of the key issues involved and the challenges ahead.”


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