Politics of U.S.-South Korean military relations, 1961-1979
Yoon, Jong Ho
Von der Mehden, Fred R.
Doctor of Philosophy
The primary objectives of U.S.-South Korean military cooperation are the defense of South Korea against any possible external aggression and the protection of U.S. national interests in the region. The principal means of their military relations include: (1) a mutual defense treaty between both countries, signed in 1953; (2) U.S. military presence in South Korea; and (3) U.S. military assistance to South Korean armed forces. This military relationship had been characterized as unequal: South Korea was heavily dependent on the United States. After the mid-1960's, however, the relationship changed toward a self-reliant or partner status of South Korea, while the United States gained more flexibility in its obligations for the security of the country. In this context, this study attempts to analyze the military relations between the United States and South Korea during the period 1961 to 1979, a period that encompasses the most significant changes and issues in military cooperation between the two nations. In this study, two propositions are analyzed: (1) the unequal military relationship between the United States and South Korea has been dominated by U.S. political interests, which have motivated changes in their relations; and (2) in its military relationship with the United States, a primary South Korean objective has been to keep a significant number of American troops stationed in its territory. For analysis, two main categories of military interactions are chosen: combined military operations and cooperation for improvement of South Korean military strength in the context of the U.S. and Korean political environments. The former category includes the structure of the combined command system and the U.S. military posture in Korea. The latter interaction stems from U.S. military assistance to the ROK armed forces. The analysis focuses military to military relations with an emphasis on the changing characteristics of the relations and the political environments in which those changes have been generated. The results of the analysis seem to support the two propositions of this study.
Political science; International relations; International law