chapter  5
Obama’s policy toward the Korean peninsula: a Korean perspective
Pages 16

The Korean peninsula has been a pivotal region for the United States, especially since the end of World War II. A place of strategic importance in the containment of the expansion of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the peninsula remains geopolitically critical in the face of a rising China. However, successive U.S. administrations-whether republican or democratic-have not had a comprehensive and consistent policy toward the two Koreas since their division. U.S. policy toward the Korean peninsula has rather been subjected to broader U.S. foreign policy priorities in East Asia, such as those toward the Soviet Union, China, and Japan. Although Korean unification has for a long time been a national goal for both South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea or ROK) and North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK), the United States has neither taken it seriously nor prepared a blueprint for it. In other words, despite its long and deep involvement in the Korean peninsula, the United States has never seriously pursued a long-term and comprehensive Korean peninsula policy.1