Date of Award

August 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Uk Heo

Committee Members

Uk Heo, Shale HorowitzZ, Steven B. Redd, Douglas M. Ihrke, John Bohte


Allinace Theory, Asymmetric Alliance, ROK-U.S. Alliance


This dissertation examines the relations between South Korea and the United States and how they have evolved and what affected changes in these relations by focusing on the national development of South Korea. To address these two questions, this dissertation adopts both historical and empirical analysis. Historical analysis analyzes the evolution of the ROK - U.S. relations from the beginning to the present based on the framework of alliance theories such as the formation, maintenance, and termination of the alliance. Empirical analysis focused on factors affecting the relations between South Korea and the U.S. It adopts multiple regression analysis with event data from 1990 to 2011.

This dissertation argues three situational changes affect the evolution of the ROK - U.S. relations. The results of both historical and empirical analysis support that the three major changes such as the end of the Cold War, the economic growth, and political democratization in South Korea have a significant effect on the relations between the U.S. and South Korea. In particular, it is meaningful that domestic changes in South Korea affect the ROK - U.S. relations. This result signifies less asymmetric relations between the two states. The changes in the alliance dilemma of South Korea also suggest a less asymmetric relationship. Furthermore, the enhanced economic interdependence and shared democracy enhances the relations of the two states. Therefore, this dissertation concludes that the relations between the U.S. and South Korea become less and less asymmetric from the 1990s until the present.