South Korea’s Perceptions of Obama’s Foreign Policy Toward Northeast Asia
The alliance between the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) achieved and maintained a high point of solidity during Barack Obama’s terms. The two countries’ cooperation on trade, security, human rights, and other issues advanced on the back of shared strategic interests, military cooperation, diplomacy, commerce, and mutual understanding between the respective governments and broader populations. Moreover, Obama’s charm and charisma made him personally popular in the ROK. Yet this “Obama premium” papered over an inability during his mandate to resolve heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula in particular and East Asia in general. Obama’s “strategic patience” vis-à-vis North Korea failed to stop Pyongyang’s advances in its nuclear weapons program. Obama’s “rebalancing” toward East Asia was more than a slogan, but nonetheless failed to contribute much to solving the region’s problems.