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I probably should have quoted the last two paragraphs of an article 'South Korea and the US 60 years on' by Charles Armstrong on the superb OhmyNews, since they say part of what I was trying to say better than I did:
South Korean views of North Korea have changed markedly in recent years, and stand in striking contrast to the hardline policy of the Bush administration. While there are many differences within South Korea about how to deal with the North, there is a growing consensus that North-South cooperation is beneficial to both sides, that gradual reunification is preferable to sudden collapse and absorption of North Korea by the ROK, that the North Korean threat can be managed, and that it is better to change North Korea's undesirable behavior by persuasion rather than by coercion. Such views in broad form are shared across much of the political spectrum in South Korea, including the conservative Grand National Party, led by Park Geun Hye, daughter of former South Korean dictator Park Chung Hee. The Bush Administration approaches North Korea very differently, creating a deep unease among many in South Korea.
One hears that Korea is the last outpost of the cold war, but that may be true only for Americans. For a growing number of South Koreans, their cold war -- a North-South conflict that began in the aftermath of colonial liberation and destroyed the universal hope for a peaceful, independent and unified post-colonial Korea -- is already over. Sixty years marks the end of a life cycle in East Asian tradition, a time for reflection, re-evaluation, and recognition that things can never be the same. Koreans have already begun this process; it remains for outsiders, Americans in particular, to recognize that a new cycle is underway.
And from the far-right, another voice in agreement:
"This meeting [between Roh and Bush in Washington last Friday] is a short-term-issue kind of thing because there isn't a lot of consideration of President Roh within the Bush administration as a serious alliance partner," says Doug Bandow, a Korean expert at the Cato Institute in Washington. "The problem there is that long term, things in South Korea are trending against America," he adds, referring to growing public suspicions of US foreign-policy goals.
...South Korean suspicions of a militaristic and unilateralist US foreign policy - fears that color both the South's approach to the North, and its perception of regional issues.
At a luncheon this week with the commander of US forces in Korea, Roh said, "The successful democracy, market economy, and peace and prosperity in South Korea are all based on the alliance between South Korea and the United States." But he also thanked the US military for understanding what he said had been "unavoidable changes" in the US-Korean alliance.
Gi-Wook Shin, an expert in Northeast Asian issues at the Stanford Institute for International Studies, says South Koreans' concerns about US "arrogance" color how the South views two factors: China's emergence as an economic and security power, and Japan's higher profile in security issues. "Many South Koreans are favorable" to a rising China, "but they are concerned about Japan expanding its security role by working more closely with the US," he says.
Experts also say South Koreans increasingly feel a sense of "entrapment" from a close association with US foreign policy. "The US used to fear it could be trapped into a war [on the Korean peninsula]," says Richard Bush, an Asian expert at the Brookings Institution. "Now it's the South Koreans who fear they could get entrapped in a conflict they don't want" - either with the North, or someday with China over Taiwan.
One more piece of supporting evidence for my argument: a Korea Herald article from last week shows how the South Korean government has to struggle to tone down the US's military plans:
Defense minister rules out U.S. pre-emptive strikes
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said yesterday the United States will not initiate preemptive strikes against North Korea at this time and in any case a consensus between Seoul and Washington is a precondition to any military action.
"A preemptive strike or a military action is out of the question at this stage. ...Countries around the world have tendencies to consider and establish operational plans, but the CONPLAN 8022 does not exist,: as far as he knows, Yoon said on local CBS radio.
He was referring to reports about a plan, known as CONPLAN 8022-02, that reportedly directs the military to assume and maintain readiness to attack hostile countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran and North Korea.
"The United States used to send weapons and personnel to allies to train on terrain as part of rotation," Yoon said.
His comments came as Pyongyang hinted it might come back to the six-party talks, though it did not set a specific date.
South Korean officials, including President Roh Moo-hyun, have often made clear opposition to a possible U.S. pre-emptive strike on North Korea in the event of failure of the multilateral talks, noting there would be heavy casualties on the peninsula.
Referring to his decision with Rumsfeld not to include specific military measures in a plan for emergencies in the communist North, Yoon said the driving force is for research, not for execution.
In 2004, Washington proposed developing the joint contingency plan further, but Seoul rejected this, saying it would undermine the Korean government's sovereignty and complicate the North Korean situation.
Instead, Seoul proposed in April to Washington that the two allies supplement or develop a conceptual plan only, without going into specifics.