Title page for ETD etd-05092012-210059

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bass, Monica Kari
Author's Email Address mbass04@vt.edu
URN etd-05092012-210059
Title The Responses of South Korean Presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun toward North Korean Threats (1998-2006): A Comparative Case Study Analysis
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Milly, Deborah J. Committee Chair
Pourchot, Georgeta Valentina Committee Member
Stivachtis, Ioannis Yannis Committee Member
  • South Korea
  • North Korea
  • Northern Limit Line
  • Missile launches
Date of Defense 2012-04-30
Availability restricted
There has been a long history of violence between North and South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and North Korea is still a current threat to the South due to their missile launches and naval clashes. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the interactions between North and South Korea from 1998 to 2006 and answer the question: What accounts for the difference in responses to North Korean threats by South Korean presidents from the same party with similar stands toward North Korea? Although South Korean Presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun shared similar approaches to North Korea, why did they not always respond in the same way? To answer this question, I examine a case in which North Korea test-launched a rocket and a case in which North Korean vessels cross the Northern Limit Line during each administration. By comparing these cases, I explain why the presidents continued their engagement policy and refrained from condemning the North in all but the case of the 2006 missile test. I test a set of explanations made by experts for South Korean approaches to North Korea to see which explanation best fits each case. I argue that each response was due to a combination of explanations rather than one single explanation. Even though each explanation had some merit, some explanations were more applicable than the others. Both Kim and Roh expressed concern over North Korea due to security and economic concerns. However, as the years and threatening behavior went on the public and international community started to take a greater notice to North Korea’s activity and wanted the South Korean government to take action. As a result, public opinion and international pressure partially influenced Roh to shift his responses towards North Korea and halt aid after the 2006 missile launch.
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