Conclusion: The Legacy of Reagan’s Korea Policy
This chapter is a concluding section in which Lee assesses the legacy of Reagan’s policy toward Korea. Reagan successfully sought a pragmatic balance between moralistic goals and realistic means. While maintaining strong alliance and enhancing mutual trust with South Korea, Reagan was able to dissuade Chun from using military forces against democratic movement in South Korea and to influence Chun in undertaking a peaceful transition from authoritarian rule to a democratic system of government. As South Korea achieves a higher level of democratic consolidation, self-defense capabilities, and economic prosperity, the United States has less reason to interfere in its ally’s domestic affairs. The two allies can afford to conduct a more mature, reciprocal, and inter-dependent relationship. As the conditions of human rights and democratic values improve in South Korea, America’s quiet diplomacy becomes less important than before, but the practice of alliance politics will remain relevant.