But Seoul’s positioning is not all bad. As South Korea and other Asian countries step gingerly with one eye on the superpowers’ rivalry, there are also opportunities to be found.
The recently released Korea Net Assessment addresses the gap between strategic realities and political assessments on the issues most important to Korean security: North Korea’s military threat, the health of the alliance, and South Korean relations with China and Japan.
As South Korea ponders the future of inter-Korean ties and the prospects for unification, one abiding reality is that core security choices are going to become increasingly difficult and politically charged.
The most striking feature of the security environment on the Korean Peninsula is the gap between assessments made by political leaders and the growing array of asymmetrical threats emanating from North Korea.
North Korea is poised at the crossroads of history. Which direction will its leader take?
Despite the seeming convergence of political interests between Kim, Moon, and Trump, a fundamental remaking of the Korean Peninsula can happen only if Kim Jong Un makes a strategic decision to save North Korea by dismantling the Kim dynasty. So long as he remains in power, however, Kim will never make that choice.