Option 2: Strengthening the ROK-US Alliance


*The views expressed in this report are the author’s alone and do not represent the official position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the US government.

The security environment in Northeast Asia has undergone significant changes over the past two decades and continues to evolve towards an uncertain future. Particularly important for South Korea has been the increase of North Korean asymmetric capabilities including nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and cyber assets among others, along with the rise of China. Pyongyang continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles with no indication it is willing to give them up. And whereas China’s rise has been a significant economic opportunity for South Korea—a huge engine for its prosperity—, South Koreans have some of the same concerns as others in Asia regarding Beijing’s future strategic intentions. Will China’s rise be beneficial for the region, will it seek to dominate Northeast Asia, or is it simply too soon to tell? Will South Korea be caught in the middle of the struggle now taking shape between China and the United States? It clearly faces important strategic decisions in foreign policy and security, especially its response to the challenges and opportunities raised by Pyongyang and Beijing. A central component in its response is its alliance with the United States, and strengthened ties will go a long way to ensuring ROK security.

For over six decades, the ROK-US alliance has been the foundation of ROK security. The alliance has evolved considerably from its Cold War origins as an alliance focused solely on peninsula security, and has begun to turn to a broader set of interests and concerns. In the 2009 Joint Vision of the Alliance, presidents Lee and Obama stated that ties were a “comprehensive strategic alliance of bilateral, regional and global scope, based on common values and mutual trust.”1 The alliance is no longer a patron-client relationship where Seoul was expected to follow Washington’s lead. It now has more power within the alliance, and, internationally, that allows it to pursue a more independent foreign policy though often consistent with US preferences.2

While these changes have altered the scope and structure of the alliance, it remains critical for ROK security. As one ROK academic told me during a recent visit, the alliance is an insurance policy for an uncertain future. Thus, strengthening it is important for South Korean leaders in dealing with the future security environment. To be sure, this is one option among others, and South Korea’s foreign policy direction need not be an “either or” proposition to the exclusion of other routes; ROK power and influence have grown and so have its options. As with any alliance, it will be driven by common interests requiring attention and collaboration. Though there are many uncertainties in the Asia-Pacific security environment that includes North Korea and China, the alliance with the United States will become even more crucial for Seoul in the years ahead.

The North Korea Military Challenge

The Korean People’s Army (KPA) is a large conventional military while also acquiring increasing non-conventional capabilities. The DPRK has an active duty force of 1.19 million supported by a large contingent of reservists and paramilitary units. The KPA fields over 4,000 tanks of different types and more than 8,500 self-propelled and towed artillery pieces in addition to 5,100 multiple rocket launchers (MRL). The DPRK tank force is far larger than South Korea’s 2,414 tanks, but the numbers are offset by the age of the North’s tanks with most old Soviet model T-34s, T-54/55s, and T-62s along with Chinese light tanks. Pyongyang is working on modernizing its tank force, but their age remains a problem.3 The artillery and MRL systems are a serious threat as many of these can reach much of Seoul. Finally, North Korea has also developed a large, well-trained special operations force with estimates ranging from 88,000 to 180,000.4

The North Korean navy is a coastal force of over 380 small patrol vessels that is no match for South Korea’s advanced technology navy. More concerning is the DPRK’s submarine force, consisting of 72 boats including 20 Yeono-class midget submarines, one of which likely fired the torpedo that sank the Cheonan. The North’s air force has over 600 planes, including bombers, fighters, and ground attack aircraft that again outnumber the ROK Air Force. However, many are old Soviet models that would struggle against ROK and US planes. The air force suffers from a lack of spare parts and fuel that impede training and readiness, limiting pilots to an estimated 20 hours of flight time per year, a paltry number compared to their ROK and US counterparts.5

Of greater concern is a growing set of DPRK non-conventional capabilities. Pyongyang has been working on its ballistic missile program for several decades.6 Its arsenal contains short-range KN-02 missiles, a solid fuel upgraded model of the Soviet SS-21, different versions of the short-range Scud missile, and the medium range-Nodong missile that is able to reach most of Japan. Both the Scud and Nodong are liquid fuel, mobile missiles.7

Work continues on two longer-range mobile systems, the intermediate-range Musudan believed capable of reaching Guam, and the KN-08, an intercontinental missile that can reach the United States. These two missiles have not been flight-tested but have appeared in parades and have been deployed on several occasions. Admiral William Gortney, commander of NORAD and US Northern Command, noted that “our assessment is they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland.”8 The lack of testing makes some skeptical, but debate remains over their operational capability, particularly the KN-08.9 Finally, North Korea also continues work on other long-range systems such as the Taepodong that could reach the United States. Despite a lack of flight testing for these systems, one study raises the notion of “emergency operation capability,” where a system may be sufficiently developed to roll out in a crisis, and, though not necessarily operationally dependable, may still garner deterrent value.10 Pyongyang also continues work on a submarine-launched ballistic missile, claiming it conducted a successful test-fire in May 2015.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program remains the most serious concern. Since October 2006, it has conducted three tests, and new estimates place the current DPRK arsenal at 16-20 weapons from spent fuel from its reactor at Yongbyon and production at one or possibly two uranium enrichment facilities.11 A recent press report cited the estimates of Chinese nuclear experts who indicated the North Korea arsenal was already as many as 20 nuclear weapons with half from enriched uranium and that the total stockpile will double in 2016.12 In a study that attempted to extrapolate North Korea’s nuclear future, David Albright outlined scenarios whereby the arsenal would contain 20, 50, or 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.13

Regardless of which of these estimates is correct, North Korea will not give up its nuclear ambitions, and its program will grow.14 Yet significant questions remain regarding the reliability and effectiveness of the North Korean nuclear deterrent, and DPRK scientists and technicians will have numerous challenges remaining, including developing a reentry vehicle for its long-range missiles, improving the range and accuracy of its ballistic missile force, and transitioning from liquid to solid fuel propellants. Retired US Air Force colonel and missileer Dana Struckman argues, “building nuclear weapons and its delivery systems, and then keeping them operational for the long term is hard—even harder for those states attempting to do it under the umbrella of international sanctions and monitoring,” and “it won’t be easy … or cheap.”15

Finally, North Korea maintains two additional capabilities that raise serious concerns. It has an extensive chemical weapons arsenal believed to be 2,500 to 5,000 tons of various types including sarin, mustard gas, and phosgene.16 Chemical weapons are manufactured indigenously and deliverable on rockets, ballistic missiles, and artillery. A second concern is its expanding cyber capability. North Korean hackers are believed to be responsible for multiple attacks over the past few years against ROK media outlets, financial institutions, and the South Korean government. In December 2014, a North Korean cyber-attack infiltrated Sony Corporation networks after warning to refrain from releasing The Interview, a Hollywood comedy that spoofed an assassination of Kim Jong-un. The Sony incident was another important reminder of the DPRK’s growing cyber force, a group contained in Bureau 121 and consisting of 6,000 personnel.17

In the years ahead, North Korea’s capabilities will grow, posing a greater threat to the region and to the United States directly. The alliance plays a central role in addressing these challenges to enhance deterrence as well as defend South Korea should deterrence fail. The United States is committed to ROK security, and the alliance is a crucial relationship to strengthen for maintaining peace in Korea.

Expanding the Security Side of the Alliance

The events of 2010 were a turning point for the alliance and actions regarding North Korea. In the wake of North Korea’s two nuclear weapons tests, Pyongyang sank the Cheonan in March 2010 along with shelling Yeonpyeong-do in November, which forced a fundamental rethinking of not only South Korea’s preparedness but also whether the alliance was doing all that it could to deal with what was appearing to be a more volatile and unpredictable security environment in Korea. As a result, the alliance undertook a number of measures to address lower level DPRK provocations while also reinforcing strategic deterrence.

One of the chief responses was the Combined Counter-Provocation Plan (CCP) in March 2013. Though the details are classified, reports indicate that in case of any North Korea provocations short of a major conflict, South Korea will take the lead in responding but can ask US forces for assistance. The CCP outlines options for ROK and US forces to respond jointly and, according to one US official, “defines action down to the tactical level and locks in alliance political consultations at the highest level.”18 The USFK announcement noted: “By completing this plan, we improved our combined readiness posture to allow us to immediately and decisively respond to any North Korean provocation. The completed plan includes procedures for consultation and action to allow for a strong and decisive combined ROK-US response to North Korean provocations.”19

To address strategic deterrence, on October 2, 2013, South Korea and the United States concluded a bilateral “Tailored Deterrence Strategy” (TDS) to confront North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. Though details are classified, the plan is reported to have a set of options to counter Pyongyang’s WMD capabilities that include the possibility of preemptive strikes should North Korea be preparing to use nuclear weapons.20 The announcement of the TDS in the 2013 SCM Joint Communique maintained that this measure:

[E]stablishes a strategic Alliance framework for tailoring deterrence against key North Korean nuclear threat scenarios across armistice and wartime, and strengthens the integration of Alliance capabilities to maximize their deterrent effects. The ROK and the United States are committed to maintaining close consultation on deterrence matters to ensure that extended deterrence for the ROK remains credible, capable, and enduring.21

The strategy evolved from the workings of the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee (EDPC), formed in 2011 to better bilateral understanding and planning for nuclear weapons and the US nuclear umbrella. ROK and US forces applied TDS for the first time during the spring 2014 Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises. Press reports indicated the exercises utilized various training scenarios involving DPRK use of nuclear and chemical weapons, and from these experiences the two sides will further refine the tailored deterrence options.22

Two crucial issues regarding the alliance response to North Korea remain in flux—ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the transfer of wartime operational control. North Korea’s ballistic missile program, whether tipped with conventional, chemical, or nuclear warheads is one of the most serious concerns for security planners. Washington has made a concerted effort to build its BMD capabilities to address North Korea and other missile threats. In addition, it has worked to build a regional BMD system with key allies. US assets in the region include Aegis-class destroyers equipped with SM-3 surface-to-air missiles and AN/SPY-1 radar. US Aegis ships are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles at high altitudes. These vessels are based in Japan and have been sent to Korea when tensions have risen or pending a North Korean missile launch. These ships combine with the Aegis-class ships of Japan and South Korea to help track and, if needed, shoot down North Korean missiles. South Korea’s Aegis ships, the King Sejong the Great-class are not armed with the SM-3 and are able to track but not shoot down ballistic missiles, though ROK officials continue to debate the wisdom of adding this capability.

The United States has also deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to Guam to bolster missile defense in the region. THAAD is a system capable of reaching targets at higher altitudes than Patriot missiles and is equipped with the AN/TPY-2 X-band radar that is capable of operating independently or as part of a layered system. Recently, debate in South Korea reached a heated pitch as officials and analysts argued over the wisdom of the United States deploying a THAAD battery to South Korea to protect US forces. Though Washington has not formally made a request to deploy the system, press reports indicating the United States was considering this option created a whirl of discussion.

The THAAD issue was part of a larger and more important question. Should South Korea join the US-led BMD system in Northeast Asia? For several years, US officials have been trying to convince South Korea to join. Assistant Secretary Anita Friedt maintained: “developing an interoperable regional missile defense architecture is an important future area of focus in light of the increasing nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea. We believe that future trilateral cooperation between the United States, the ROK, and Japan can positively impact our deterrence efforts against North Korean aggression and send a powerful message of deterrence to the DPRK.”23 Japan joined enthusiastically in 2005, but South Korea has been reluctant to join the regional BMD system, in large part due to Chinese objections that BMD will not solve the North Korea problem and that the system is directed against China as well.24 Instead, South Korea has opted to develop its own independent BMD called Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) that includes Aegis destroyers and PAC-2 and 3 missile interceptors along with a “Kill Chain” that gives Seoul a conventional strike capability to hit North Korean nuclear and missile targets with preemptive strikes should that become necessary.

A second issue that remains fluid is the possible transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON). At the start of the Korean War, South Korean forces were placed under the OPCON of the United Nations Command. After fighting ceased, OPCON moved to the US military command in the ROK. In 1994, peacetime OPCON reverted back to South Korea, returning peacetime operations to the ranking ROK commander. However, the United States retained OPCON during wartime. In 2002, Seoul and Washington began talks to return wartime OPCON and after several rounds of meetings, agreed to set the transfer date for April 17, 2012. Yet, as the date approached, opposition to the transfer grew, in large part due to a spate of North Korean actions, including the second nuclear test in 2009, the sinking of the Cheonan, and several missile tests. As debate over the wisdom of the transfer intensified, on June 26, 2010 at the G-20 Summit in Toronto, presidents Lee and Obama announced the postponement of the OPCON transfer to December 2015. 25 Renamed “Strategic Alliance 2015,” it appeared to be back on track but by spring 2013, signs surfaced again that postponement was under consideration. In April 2014, Obama visited South Korea, and, at a joint press conference, Park Geun-hye announced that the 2015 timeline could be reconsidered. In October 2014, following the annual Security Consultative Meeting, a final decision was announced. Instead of setting another date, OPCON transfer would be done on a “conditions-based approach” accomplished “when critical ROK and Alliance military capabilities are secured and the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the region is conducive to a stable OPCON transition.”26

The alliance has been wrestling with responses to provocations, BMD, THAAD, OPCON transfer, and other matters that have acquired considerable urgency in the past few years. We have to assume that some of these challenges will only grow more serious. Together, they testify to the importance for both countries of making the alliance even stronger than it is. Seoul will no doubt continue to pursue other foreign policy options, but Pyongyang’s aggressive course should not leave any doubt about the priority of military preparedness together with its reliable ally.

South Korea, China, and the Alliance

South Korea’s strategic position between China and the ROK-US Alliance is more complicated. For decades after the Korean War, ROK-Sino relations were hostile and locked in the Cold War. By the 1990s, ROK economic strength became a powerful attraction for Beijing and an incentive to craft a dual track policy that retained close ties with the North while carving out a new relationship with the South. In August 1992, China and South Korea established diplomatic ties, much to the chagrin of the North.

In the wake of normal relations, the ROK-Sino economic relationship took off and continues to grow. In 1992, trade stood at USD 6.4 billion but by 2000 had climbed to USD 31.3 billion. In 2003, China became South Korea’s largest trade partner, a position the United States had held for years. By 2014, ROK-Sino trade vaulted to USD 235.4 billion, a 652 percent increase since 2000 and more than the combined total of the United States (USD 115.6 billion) and Japan (USD 86.0 billion).27 In 2006, Seoul and Beijing began talks on a free trade agreement and after numerous rounds of meetings, initialized a pact in February 2015. The FTA will remove more than 90 percent of tariffs over the next 20 years.28 Despite pressure from Washington, South Korea also joined several other US allies in signing up for the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) believing the opportunities were too important to forgo. Finally, China has been a significant opportunity for ROK investment, reaching USD 3.65 billion in 2014. However, Chinese investment in South Korea has been more modest at only USD 414.2 million during the same year.29

South Korea has a great deal at stake in this relationship. Indeed, a recent Asan Institute poll indicated that ROK respondents believe the United States currently is paramount in international political (84.6 percent) and economic influence (63.6 percent). However, 70.5 percent believe China will overtake the US economy and become “the future economic superpower.”30

Despite these economic links, many South Koreans remain wary of China and its future strategic direction, concerned that Chinese power could upset regional stability. In a 2014 Asan Institute poll, 66.4 percent of respondents believed that China was an important military threat, not necessarily because it was a direct threat to South Korea but rather because of fears its growing defense budgets and military rise would exacerbate numerous issues in the region.31 Even in the economic sphere, China’s rise may become more problematic. A recent report by the Korea Development Institute noted that Chinese economic power while being an opportunity is also a competitor in certain international sectors that drive down ROK market share.32 There are also concerns that China may seek to dominate and dictate based on its interests rather than trying to foster a partnership with Seoul. Aggressive Chinese actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere raise fears that they could be a precursor to actions that directly affect ROK interests.

One maritime concern that South Korea and China have yet to resolve is overlapping claims to their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the West/Yellow Sea. Each is entitled to an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (nm), and given the Yellow Sea’s width of 378 nm at its widest, there is considerable overlap. Beijing and Seoul have had over 15 meetings but have yet to reach an agreement.33

Another maritime issue is illegal Chinese fishing in ROK waters. China’s growing population has placed increasing pressure on its fishing fleet to provide greater harvests. Having depleted fishing grounds close to home, they have ventured further to find the necessary stocks. Coastal pollution has exacerbated the problem. Consequently, Chinese fishermen have intruded further into ROK waters. Though there are formal agreements to manage fishing, enforcement has at times been difficult and is complicated by the lack of an EEZ settlement. From 2010 to 2012, tensions spiked with violence between ROK Coast Guard personnel and Chinese fishermen when boats were stopped in ROK waters. The Chinese response to many incidents was lukewarm, raising ire in South Korea. The issue has abated in subsequent years, and Chinese enforcement has improved, but it added to ROK concerns about its neighbor.

In a final maritime issue, South Korea and China have an ongoing dispute over administrative control of a reef Koreans call Ieodo and the Chinese, Suyan Rock. Both agree the dispute is not over an island since the rocks remain submerged even at low tide. In 2003, South Korea built the Ieodo Research Station on the rocks to collect scientific data and maintains that the reef is on its continental shelf, making construction of the research facility legal under Articles 60 and 80 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.34 However, China disagrees and has filed regular protests over the building of the facility. In November 2013, China extended its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea to include the area around Ieodo without consulting South Korea. Seoul was not pleased and promptly extended its ADIZ to include the reef.

South Korea recognizes the important role China plays regarding North Korea. Beijing is a strong proponent of North Korean denuclearization and has a crucial stake in moderating Pyongyang’s behavior to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. Yet South Koreans also see that Beijing is unwilling to exert much pressure on the North and distrusts China over Korean reunification, believing it does not wish to see this occur. Moreover, Seoul was very disappointed at the tepid Chinese response to North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong-do. Rather than condemning Pyongyang’s actions, Beijing called on both sides to avoid increasing tensions. China is an important factor in dealing with North Korea, and South Korea needs Beijing’s help, yet China’s inability to hold Pyongyang more accountable for these actions was very disconcerting.

Recently, China has sought to strong-arm South Korean leaders over the issue of missile defense and the possible deployment of a US THAAD battery to the peninsula. South Korea remains committed to develop its own missile defense system. Yet, Beijing’s heavy-handed pressure on THAAD has given many South Koreans pause regarding ties with China.35

Both Seoul and Washington minimize the China factor in their alliance. After all, it has always been centered on deterring North Korea, and there has long been an effort to enlist China in this endeavor. Yet, to the extent that the US-Japan alliance has shifted to addressing China’s military build-up, especially in the East China Sea and South China Sea where South Korea’s national interests are far from negligible, it is becoming harder to separate trilateralism including Japan and even the ROK-US alliance from addressing China’s potential aggression. Even on the Korean Peninsula, uncertainty about China’s response to conflict requires attentiveness to its military posture. Alliance strengthening is, of course, directed against the North Korean threat, but as South Koreans look ahead, they are unlikely to ignore the implications of China’s growing military power.

In the 2015 US National Security Strategy, the Obama administration repeated the refrain that “The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China. We seek to develop a constructive relationship with China that delivers benefits for our two peoples and promotes security and prosperity in Asia and around the world. We seek cooperation on shared regional and global challenges such as climate change, public health, economic growth, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. While there will be competition, we reject the inevitability of confrontation.”36 Yet signs of confrontation are growing, notably in the South China Sea, but it must not be allowed to escalate to major power confrontation. It is in no one’s interests for US-Sino ties to go badly, and both Beijing and Washington must work very hard to ensure it does not. Although South Korea is far from the South China Sea, it sits squarely in the middle of these uncertainties concerning China. If US-Sino relations deteriorate, South Korea will be in a difficult spot and will be part of the chessboard for the resulting clash of wills. The ROK-US alliance will remain an important tool for ensuring ROK security.


In the years ahead, North Korea’s nuclear capability will continue to grow. DPRK nuclear strategy and the impact its nuclear program has on its behavior are uncertain with particular concern for Pyongyang’s level of risk tolerance with its nuclear deterrent. At some point, it will be necessary to restart a dialogue with the North if for no other reason than to seek to bring tension levels down. The alliance provides an important foundation for ROK security regardless of whether talks succeed or fail and remains a powerful tool for influencing Pyongyang’s behavior. No other option in its foreign and security policy gives Seoul as much strength in dealing with Pyongyang. As the threat continues to grow, the alliance remains a central fixture for maintaining peace and stability.

For ROK-China ties, the role of the alliance will be more complicated. If Beijing opts for aggressive behavior, its actions will push many in Asia away from China. However, should China’s inevitable rise be one where it is a cooperative leader in the region and globally, and Washington and Beijing can manage their relationship in a way that accommodates both country’s interests, South Korea need not be pulled by China’s economic power on the one hand and the security guarantees of the alliance on the other.

Until these issues are sorted out with greater certainty, the ROK-US alliance will continue to provide a foundation for ROK security. The depth and cooperation of the alliance must grow and progress toward a broader partnership. Yet, Seoul will also need to do a balancing act that allows it to access the economic benefits of ties with China. In fact, while South Korea’s position between China and the United States could place it in a difficult spot, these circumstances may also prove to be an opportunity for South Korea to help mediate between these two powers. In the end, the ROK-US alliance remains the bedrock for South Korean security, and further strengthening of these ties will be crucial in an increasingly uncertain and complicated environment.

1. “Joint Vision for the Alliance between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea,” June 16, 2009,https://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Joint-vision-for-the-alliance-of-the-United-States-of-America-and-the-Republic-of-Korea/.

2. Uk Heo and Terence Roehrig, South Korea’s Rise: Economic Development, Power, and Foreign Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

3. Bruce Bechtol, Jr., North Korea and Regional Security in the Kim Jong-un: A New International Security Dilemma (London: Palgrave, 2014), 28-29.

4. The Military Balance 2014 (London: International Institute of Strategic Studies), 255; and Blaine Harden, “North Korea Massively Increases Its Special Forces,” The Washington Post, October 8, 2009,http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR2009100804018.html.

5. The Military Balance 2014, 256.

6. Markus Schiller, “Characterizing the North Korean Missile Threat,” RAND, 2012, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2012/RAND_TR1268.pdf.

7. Greg Thielmann, “Sorting Out the Nuclear and Missile Threats From North Korea,” Arms Control Association, May 21, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR2009100804018.html.

8.Sam LaGrone, “NORAD Chief: North Korea Has Ability to Reach U.S. With Nuclear Warhead on Mobile ICBM,” USNI News, April 7, 2015, http://news.usni.org/2015/04/07/norad-chief-north-korea-has-ability-to-reach-u-s-with-nuclear-warhead-on-mobile-icbm.

9. For example, see Markus Schiller, Robert H. Schumcker, and J. James Kim, “Assessment of North Korea’s Latest ICBM Mock-Up,” Asan Institute Issue Brief, January 12, 2014; and Jeffrey Lewis and John Schilling, “Real Fake Missiles: North Korea’s ICBM Mockups Are Getting Scary Good,” 38 North, November 4, 2013, http://38north.org/2013/11/lewis-schilling110513/.

10. John Schilling and Henry Kan, “The Future of North Korean Nuclear Delivery Systems,” U.S.-Korea Institute, SAIS, 2015, http://38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NKNF_Delivery-Systems.pdf.

11.Joel Wit and Sun Young Ahn, “North Korea’s Nuclear Futures: Technology and Strategy,” U.S.-Korea Institute, SAIS, 2015, http://38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NKNF-NK-Nuclear-Futures-Wit-0215.pdf.

12. Jeremy Page and Jay Solomon, “China Warns North Korean Nuclear Threat is Rising,” The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2015.

13. David Albright, “Future Directions in the DPRK’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Three Scenarios for 2020,” U.S.-Korea Institute, SAIS, 2015, http://38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NKNF-Future-Directions-2020-Albright-0215.pdf.

14.Terence Roehrig, “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Motivations, Strategy, and Doctrine,” in Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, eds., Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapons(Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012).

15. Dana Struckman and Terence Roehrig, “Not So Fast: Pyongyang’s Nuclear Weapons Ambitions,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, February 20, 2013, http://journal.georgetown.edu/not-so-fast-pyongyangs-nuclear-weapons-ambitions-by-dana-struckman-and-terence-roehrig/.

16. Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, “Strategic Weapons Systems—North Korea,” January 20, 2011, http://jmsa.janes.com/JDIC/JMSA.

17. “North Korea boosted ‘cyber forces’ to 6,000 troops, South says,” Reuters, January 6, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/06/us-northkorea-southkorea-idUSKBN0KF1CD20150106.

18.David Sanger and Thom Shanker, “U.S. Designs a Korea Response Proportional to the Provocation,” The New York Times, April 7, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/world/asia/us-and-south-korea-devise-plan-to-counter-north.html.

19. UNC/CFC/USFK Public Affairs Office, “ROK-US Sign Final Version of Combined Counter-Provocation Plan,” March 24, 2013, http://www.usfk.mil/usfk/(S(0tpzvysqf4cjmi1hxahi0b4v))/Uploads/210/24_March_2013_Counter_Provocation_Press_Release.pdf.

20. Kwanwoo Jun, “U.S., South Korea Sign Pact on Deterrence Against North,” The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2013, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304906704579110891808197868.

21. Department of Defense, “Joint Communique – the 45th ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting,” October 2, 2013, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Joint%20Communique,%2045th%20ROK-U.S.%20Security%20Consultative%20Meeting.pdf.

22. Kim Eun-jung, “S. Korea, U.S. to apply tailored NK deterrence strategy in joint drills for first time,” Yonhap News, February 6, 2014, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2014/02/05/18/0401000000AEN20140205008600315F.html; and Song Sang-ho, “Allies to apply ‘tailored deterrence,’” The Korea Herald, February 6, 2014, http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140206001162

23. “Interoperable missile defense architecture: official,” Yonhap, February 21, 2015, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2015/02/21/39/0301000000AEN20150221000300315F.html.

24. For a good debate of the various perspectives on BMD in Korea, see a series of articles published March 31, 2015 by the Asan Forum: Teng Jianquan, “A Chinese Perspective,” https://asanforum.shoplic.site/an-chinese-perspective/; Woo Jung-yoop, “A South Korean Perspective,” https://asanforum.shoplic.site/a-south-korean-perspective-3/; and Van Jackson, “A US Perspective,” https://asanforum.shoplic.site/a-us-perspective-4/

25. White House-Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by President Obama and President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea After Bilateral Meeting,” June 26, 2010, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-obama-and-president-lee-myung-bak-republic-korea-after-bilateral-.

26. U.S. Department of Defense, “Joint Communique, The 46th ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting,” October 23, 2014, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/46th_SCM_Joint_Communique.pdf.

27. Korea Customs Service, “Import/Export by Country,” http://www.customs.go.kr/kcshome/trade/TradeCountryList.do?layoutMenuNo=21031.

28. Korea Customs Service, Yoo Ja-young, “Korea initials FTA with China,” Korea Times, February 25, 2015, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2015/03/488_174149.html.

29. The Export-Import Bank of Korea, “Statistics of Foreign Investment,” May 8, 2015.

30. Kim Jiyoon, John J. Lee, and Kang Chungku, “Measuring A Giant: South Korean Perceptions of the United States,” Asan Institute, April 2015, http://en.asaninst.org/contents/measuring-a-giant-south-korean-perceptions-of-the-united-states.

31. “South Korean Attitudes on China,” Asan Institute, July 3, 2014, http://en.asaninst.org/contents/south-korean-attitudes-on-china/.

32. Kyu-Chul Jung, “Changes in the Export Competitiveness of China, Japan, and Korea,” Korea Development Institute, May 5, 2015, http://www.kdi.re.kr/upload/cu20150505_eng.pdf.

33.See Terence Roehrig, “Republic of Korea Navy and China’s Rise: Balancing Competing Priorities,” in Michael A. McDevitt and Catherine K. Lee, eds., CNA Maritime Asia Project: Workshop Two, CNA, August 2012, 69-76.

34. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf.

35. Choe Sang-hyun, “South Korea Tells China Not to Meddle in Decision Over Missile System,” New York Times, March 17, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/18/world/asia/south-korea-tells-china-not-to-meddle-in-decision-over-missile-system.html?_r=0.

36. Barack Obama, “US National Security Strategy,” February 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf.

Now Reading Option 2: Strengthening the ROK-US Alliance