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To Be or Not To Be: South Korea's East Asia Security Strategy and the Unification Quandary


South Korea’s Lee Myong-bak government has adopted a new East Asia strategy to cope with the changing security environment on the Korean peninsula, as well as in Northeast Asia. Departing from its traditional dependence on the bilateral alliance with the United States, South Korea now seeks a diversified strategy which includes upgrading the alliance with the US to a ‘strategic alliance’, developing a ‘strategic cooperative partnership’ with China and promoting a multilateral security mechanism in Northeast Asia. Although it is not clear how South Korea will handle the contradictory elements and the complexity of the new strategy, it provides a more realistic approach to dealing with a possible North Korean contingency and the question of Korean unification, which should and will eventually be shaped by the two Koreas’ choices.