Double Allegiance: Moon Jae-in’s Strategy amid US-China Rivalry

Can a state be a credibly ally and still partner closely with its rival? During the Cold War, no country was allied to one side and strategically tied to the other; it may have accommodated the rival to a degree, but this fell short of any actual aligning behavior. Today, in what is now frequently referred to as the “new cold war,”1 some question whether states are exhibiting similar tendencies. I argue South Korea provides new, albeit preliminary, insights in this respect: its alliance with the United States—though under various strains—has remained resilient even as South Korea’s ties to China have deepened and the US-China relations have deteriorated. Indeed, this strategy of “double allegiance” is distinctive, even if it is unlikely to sustain over the long run.

The idea of “double allegiance” is not entirely new; but it takes a unique flair under Moon Jae-in’s progressive administration. In a recent interview, his special advisor Moon Chung-in noted: “South Korea is an American ally, but it also maintains a strategic partnership with China. It will be extremely difficult for Seoul to take a pro-American balancing strategy or to bandwagon China’s rise.” He then advised: “Seoul needs to make a major breakthrough to inter-Korean relations. Improved inter-Korean relations will serve as a very valuable buffer to US-China strategic rivalry on the Korean Peninsula.”2 From this perspective, inter-Korean peace is the defining feature of South Korea’s “double allegiance” strategy.

But Moon’s statement is only partially accurate. It is true that South Korea is—as the old saying goes—a shrimp between two whales; under the progressive government that prioritizes inter-Korean reconciliation, the predicament is even worse. South Korea needs the cooperation of both the United States and China to push its peace agenda: the former to credibly balance against and the latter to credibly assure the North. With their deepening rivalry, however, any meaningful progress in inter-Korean reconciliation remains illusory. In this view, the fluctuations in inter-Korean relations are likely symptoms rather than regulators of the US-China rivalry. As Seoul continues to pursue North Korea, satisfying both sides of the increasingly belligerent conflict will become a tough—possibly untenable—balancing act.

In this article, I assess Moon’s foreign policy in the context of the US-China competition. I make three assertions in the following order. First, Seoul is pursuing a strategy of “double allegiance,” with two conjoined efforts: delinking from the United States in its regional security architecture without damaging bilateral security commitments, and drawing closer to China in regional cooperation without signaling a serious intent to realign. Second, Seoul remains fixated on recovering the lost momentum of the peace process with the North; this creates pressures for appeasing both parties in the great power rivalry. Finally, as the frictions in US-China relations become more acute and South Korea’s room for effective balancing shrinks, Seoul will find itself walking a dangerous tightrope between Washington and Beijing.

Why Moon is not hedging

Many have previously portrayed Seoul’s behavior as “hedging,”3 but I argue that it is better characterized as “double allegiance.” While it takes many attributes of hedging, Seoul’s strategy varies critically in one aspect: it seeks to be close, rather than aloof, to both—albeit at different levels. At the bilateral level, Seoul’s alliance with Washington has remained steadfast despite recent challenges, while at the regional level, its cooperation with Beijing has grown stronger. These developments merit a more precise conceptual framework than “hedging,” which I term “double allegiance.”

Kuik Cheng-chwee defines hedging as “insurance-seeking behavior” that manifests through flexible and layered alignments.4 Three features are key: (1) an avoidance of clear and fixed alignments; (2) a pursuit of ambiguous and contradictory measures to offset risks; and (3) a diversification of “fallback” positions. The precise elements of a hedging strategy depend on and evolve with the state’s security imperatives and the elites’ domestic political needs.5 When states hedge, they mix strategies—such as engaging, distancing, and binding, to name a few—in a partial and selective manner to prevent being labeled an enemy by reigning and rising hegemons. Hedging is, thus, analytically opposed to balancing and bandwagoning, in which states must clearly signal their intentions and choose sides to reap the benefits of containing or enabling another power.

By these indicators, South Korea under the Moon administration is more than a hedger—it pursues double allegiance. Like hedgers, South Korea has sought to combine different strategies to balance between the United States and China—at times in contradiction. But unlike hedgers, South Korea has continued to signal, rather openly, its intention to stay a US ally and simultaneously drawn closer to China in terms of regional cooperation. In this manner, South Korea has applied more consistent and unambiguous measures to signal its intentions at the bilateral and regional levels. This is a strategy of double allegiance: South Korea aims to maintain its existing bilateral security relationship with the United States as well as deepen regional partnership with China.

Darren J. Lim and Zack Cooper argue that hedging in contemporary punditry has become a catch-all concept, too broad to have much analytical purchase.6 To remedy this, they propose redefining hedging as “signaling that generates ambiguity over the extent of a secondary state’s shared security interests with great powers.”7 In doing so, they (1) focus exclusively on a state’s behavior in the security realm; and (2) explicitly recognize hedging as a costly strategy. They dismissed the South Korean case in their study because “its dominant security challenge arises not from managing great power relationships, but from a third party: Seoul remains focused on the danger of North Korean provocation, its nuclear and missile programs, and the potential for a political and humanitarian crisis if the regime in Pyongyang collapses.”8 In this view, North Korea presents a key confounder in Seoul’s calculations about alignment.

The case of South Korea still merits a closer look given the policy centrality of its balancing between the United States and China. Under the Moon administration, Seoul has sought to manage its closest and most important ally all the while seeking to satisfy its rival. The depth of its alliance with the United States and strategic ties to China are striking, even among other states in the region that are similarly allied to the United States and economically dependent on China. Seoul has, in this view, deviated from a conventional hedging strategy, which is marked by ambiguity. In fact, it is seeking double allegiance as a tactical choice: retaining the US alliance and deepening the Chinese partnership toward a singular goal—improving inter-Korean relations.

Why Moon is seeking double allegiance

Conventionally, South Korea’s preference for balancing between the United States and China has been understood in terms of its security and economic needs. The prevailing domestic narrative about China is instructive in this regard. On the one hand, China is seen as a security threat: it is proximate, far more powerful, authoritarian, and supports the “other” Korea. On the other hand, China also presents an economic opportunity: as South Korea’s largest trade partner since 2003, China’s growth and stability directly impacts South Korea’s economic health, at least in the short-to-medium term. This strategic reality poses an impossible conundrum. As national assemblyman Moon Hee‐​sang explained in April: “We cannot abandon economy for the sake of security, and we cannot abandon security for the sake of economy.”9 That is why, despite being a long-time US ally, South Korea has so far refrained from explicitly balancing against China as Australia and—to a lesser degree—Japan have.

Double allegiance to the United States and China becomes even more compelling when inter-Korean relations take center stage in South Korean foreign policy; this is because Seoul needs both Washington and Beijing to disarm and bind North Korea into a peace agreement. Indeed, North Korea is unlikely to adopt any serious measures toward denuclearization in the absence of adequate security guarantees from the United States, whether they be suspensions in military exercises, a mutual nonaggression pact, or a peace treaty. (The last among these also depends on the support of China, which is a signatory to the armistice agreement.) Moreover, sufficient sanctions pressure is required to retain the North’s interest in diplomacy. Here, too, the roles of the United States and China are paramount: as two permanent members of the UN Security Council, they can veto any multilateral efforts to strengthen or alleviate sanctions on North Korea. China also wields an outsized influence on the North’s economy and can make sanctions particularly painful or practically inoperative. In sum, South Korea cannot risk alienating either—it must satisfy both.

Beyond the practical needs, Seoul’s desire to be in the “driver’s seat” in the inter-Korean peace process further incentivizes double allegiance. In the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un vowed to “reconnect the blood relations of the nation and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and independent reunification led by Koreans.”10 This “principle of independence and self-determination of the Korean nation” was reaffirmed in the subsequent Pyongyang Declaration.11 The centrality of this principle in Seoul’s vision for inter-Korean peace and growing anxieties about “Korea passing” make it prone to a strategy of double allegiance: Moon wants to prevent Korea from becoming a pawn in a larger geostrategic game and to preserve Seoul’s autonomy in shaping the fate of the Korean Peninsula.

Against this backdrop, the Moon administration sees double allegiance as an inevitability rather than an option. His strategies toward the United States and China have thus been marked by two discernible trends: (1) at the bilateral level, it entails managing the US alliance, which has faced several challenges of late; and (2) at the regional level, it involves increased decoupling and distancing from the United States as well as cautious engagement with China. In this way, Seoul attempts to show deference to both Washington and Beijing.

Allied but unconsolidated

Moon’s strategy toward the United States has so far exhibited (1) an intent to save the bilateral security relationship and (2) attempts to decouple and distance from its multilateral security framework. The former is observable in Seoul’s decisions surrounding the transfer of wartime Operational Control Authority (OPCON) and the cost-sharing of stationing 28,500 US troops in South Korea. The latter is visible in its decisions surrounding the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD); (2) the renewal of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA); and (3) the participation in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy. These developments suggest that while Moon is more comfortable delinking South Korea from the United States’ broader hub-and-spoke system in the region—at times to directly appease Beijing—he remains unambiguous about preserving bilateral security commitments.

Indeed, while some analysts have warned about the “unraveling” of the US-South Korea alliance, direct evidence in this regard has so far been less than conclusive.12 The Trump administration’s unilateral decision to forego joint military exercises in the wake of the Singapore Summit was undeniably alarming to Seoul, but the drills have since returned. Scheduled to begin on August 28, the exercise will focus on Combined Command Post Training (CCPT), aimed at increasing military preparedness including against a North Korean surprise attack. This is notable not only because of the outrage it would generate in the North but because Seoul had initially preferred to conduct a Full Operational Capability (FOC) assessment13—a requirement for the OPCON transfer. Equally crucially, in announcing the resumption of the exercises, South Korea’s defense minister Jeong Kyung-doo pledged that Seoul will act “on the basis of the US alliance” for any security issues pertaining to Beijing.14 Though delayed and scaled-down due to a virus resurgence in South Korea, the timing and purpose of the renewed exercises demonstrate Seoul’s resilient support for the alliance with Washington.

The frictions over cost-sharing negotiations persist, but here too, Seoul’s decisions highlight a desire to maintain the alliance. In 2019, the Trump administration demanded an increase in South Korea’s annual contribution toward the stationing of US troops there—a staggering sum of $5 billion.15 Over the course of the negotiations, Seoul proposed raising its share of the costs by 13% from the previous year.16 Washington rejected the offer and adjusted its request to $1.3 billion—a 50% increase. The talks have stalled, but in the meantime, Seoul proposed a stopgap measure, offering to pay $200 million to fund the labor costs of South Korean workers in US bases until the end of 2020.17 In this manner, Seoul has sought to avoid significant disruptions in the day-to-day operations of the US Forces Korea until a longer-term deal can be reached—possibly under a new administration of Joe Biden, whose platform has criticized Trump for trying to “extort” South Korea on defense costs.18

At the same time, Seoul has undertaken bolder moves to detach itself from the US-led regional security architecture. The THAAD decision provides the starkest evidence of Moon’s decoupling from Washington, for three reasons: (1) the previous Park administration had deployed the system as an explicit step toward reaffirming Washington as South Korea’s primary security provider, despite a significant period of courtship with Beijing19; (2) China had long maintained that the system damages its strategic deterrence—that the North Korean nuclear threat is a ruse to deploy what is in fact aimed at China20—and adopted coercive economic diplomacy to alter South Korea’s security policy21; and (3) the Moon administration’s “three nos” policy—a compromise he made to appease Beijing—delimited the purview of the US-South Korea alliance to a strictly bilateral level and hindered the growth of trilateral security cooperation (particularly in missile defense) between the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

Following Beijing’s year-long retaliation over THAAD, South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha announced the “three nos” policy on October 30, 2017, promising (1) no additional THAAD deployments; (2) no participation in an integrated US missile defense network; and (3) no trilateral alliance with the United States and Japan.22 In disbelief, then US national security advisor H. R. McMaster stated that he did not think Seoul would “give up its sovereignty in those three areas.”23 Indeed, even if Kang’s statements reflected—as Seoul explained24—what was already its position, Seoul effectively relinquished future security options by pronouncing such commitments to China. In particular, the policy placed limits on South Korea’s alliance activities and impeded the integration of the US-centered regional security network. For Beijing, this was a sufficient victory: it had effectively narrowed the scope and terms of the US-South Korea alliance.

Moon’s threat to terminate GSOMIA also illustrates his willingness to delink from Washington. This threat was noteworthy for two reasons: (1) like THAAD, the Park administration had signed the agreement to strengthen the trilateral cooperation with Washington and Tokyo; the deal was perceived as a setback for Beijing, which saw US alliances as a source of asymmetric advantage for Washington; and (2) the Moon administration’s repeated threats to withdraw from the pact—despite continued warnings from Washington—expressed his diminishing regard for the United States’ security interests in the region. Indeed, the retreat from GSOMIA is framed as ultimately widening Seoul’s policy autonomy, but its collapse will entail a broader and more substantial consequence: weakening of the US-led regional security architecture.

It is unsurprising, then, that Washington has continued to pressure Seoul in this regard; what is more surprising is that it stood firm. The Blue House stated: “If we revoke our decision unilaterally without any change in Japan’s exports restrictions and in relations between South Korea and Japan, it would only prove that we made our original decision not prudently enough. That was not the case.”25 While the Moon administration has recently suspended its plans to end GSOMIA, it has also refused to renew the pact.26 In announcing this decision, the foreign ministry spokesperson Kim In-chul reiterated that Seoul had the right to terminate the agreement “at any time it chooses.”27 The statement has infuriated many in Washington, who questioned Seoul’s priorities as a security partner. One spokesperson from the State Department characterized Seoul’s move as “a serious misapprehension” that fails to recognize the nature and severity of the looming security challenges in the region, including—presumably—China’s rise. But Moon may have seen an opportunity: revoking GSOMIA shows not only his animus toward Japan, but also deference to China.

Finally, Moon’s tepid participation in the FOIP strategy represents another attempt at distancing from Washington. Since FOIP’s introduction in 2017, Washington has sought South Korea’s cooperation on regional security issues in the South and East China Seas, in close coordination with the Quad. For Beijing, however, FOIP and the Quad are aimed at its containment,28 and Seoul’s endorsement would signify its entry into a “NATO-like” alliance system in the region. Moon has thus hesitated to use the FOIP label, introducing instead his New Southern Policy (NSP). Although some links have been drawn between the NSP and FOIP, it has been marginal, with an economic—rather than security—focus.29 In particular, the role of the US-South Korea alliance has been absent in discussions about bridging the two agendas.30 This further demonstrates Moon’s desire to narrow the scope of the alliance to a bilateral objective: the defense of the Korean Peninsula.

In sum, South Korea’s strategy of double allegiance has manifested in two outlooks vis-à-vis Washington: allied but unconsolidated. Bilaterally, Seoul’s intention to maintain the alliance appears firm—this is especially so, given Trump’s continued insults and threats. Multilaterally, however, Seoul’s attempts to decouple and distance from Washington are growing more conspicuous. Those decisions are aimed at either explicitly appeasing China or implicitly acknowledging its interests. How long and under what conditions Washington will continue to tolerate Seoul’s double allegiance are, however, less certain.

Closer but unbound

On the other hand, Moon’s strategy toward China has been defined by limited deference and cautious engagement: he has sought to meet the most critical of Chinese demands by delinking from Washington’s regional security architecture—as discussed above—while drawing closer to Beijing in a partial and selective manner. The latter warrants an elaboration. Indeed, Moon has so far been careful to limit cooperation with China to areas where there are broad and mutual interests. With renewed summitry and contact, Seoul and Beijing have sought to strengthen communication and coordination over issues ranging from economic recovery31 to pandemic prevention and control.32 But these are good-will gestures for bolstering regional cooperation; more meaningful or bilateral commitments have been sparse, except for the recent defense agreement to upgrade military hotlines. These trends indicate that Moon is willing to concede on regional security—to Beijing’s favor—but less inclined to reshape bilateral relations in a more comprehensive manner.   

Seoul’s interactions with Beijing have drawn them closer in regional cooperation, but bilateral ties remain largely detached. In late 2019, Seoul and Beijing hosted strategic defense talks and agreed to establish additional military hotlines.33 Though some raised alarm,34 these developments are not novel; the strategic defense talks had been suspended in 2015 due to the THAAD fallout and the two countries had already relied on military hotlines to prevent accidental clashes in air and at sea since 2007. In this sense, the resumption of the defense talks symbolizes a more complete normalization of bilateral ties than a drastic change in Seoul’s alignment policy. The enhancement of military hotlines, while more notable, is also limited. For Seoul, this is aimed at reducing tensions that often arise from China’s unannounced entries into the South Korean air defense identification zone (ADIZ)35 and coordinating responses in the event of a military altercation involving North Korea. It is too early to conclude, based on this scant evidence, that Seoul is seeking to realign with Beijing.

In sum, South Korea’s strategy of double allegiance has fostered a cooperative relationship with Beijing, but without significant alignment—in short, they are closer but still unbound. Seoul has sought to convey deference by pulling away from Washington’s regional security framework and this has created a more constructive environment for Seoul and Beijing to cooperate on economic and non-traditional security issues in the region. At the same time, bilateral decisions have not been particularly noteworthy—at least not yet.  

Why double allegiance is likely unsustainable

Recent developments suggest that Seoul will continue to seek double allegiance in the foreseeable future. Moon’s wish to recover the lost momentum of the peace process will likely push him to curry both Washington and Beijing’s favor. Yet, the intensifying rivalry between them may force Moon to make more seemingly contradictory and ambiguous compromises—to no one’s satisfaction; or more exclusive concessions—to one’s indignation. Both prospects bode ill for the durability of Moon’s double allegiance strategy.

Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy remains almost singularly focused on inter-Korean peace process. So far, this has translated into three mutually contingent agendas: (1) supporting a gradual, step-by-step approach to denuclearization in which North Korean measures to disarm—however symbolic—are rewarded with corresponding sanctions relief; (2) ensuring South Korea’s say in shaping a negotiated settlement for peace, including a peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement; and (3) advancing inter-Korean ties and cooperation, not necessarily in tandem with improvements in US-North Korean relations.36 While some progress was made toward these objectives in 2018, many have since stalled or backtracked.

Indeed, recent events have been far from encouraging. Frustrated by the botched talks, North Korea has steadily increased pressure on Moon. In early June, Pyongyang declared its intention to cut off all communications with South Korea, a partner-turned-enemy.37 In a far more drastic measure, Pyongyang also blew up the liaison office in Kaesong—a de facto embassy—and vowed to resume “all kinds of military exercises.”38 The decision accompanied a particularly spiteful statement from Kim Yo-jong, North Korea’s chief propagandist and Kim Jong-un’s sister: “It is no longer possible to discuss the North-South ties with such a servile partner engaging only in disgrace and self-ruin, being soaked by deep-rooted flunkeyism.”39 Not long after, she also rejected South Korea’s proposal to send an envoy for talks, calling it “tactless and sinister.”40 Though Pyongyang has since withdrawn its plans to deploy troops at the border, a return to the spirit of détente two years ago appears distant.

Despite the string of provocations, Moon has opted against any direct confrontation and expressed, instead, “strong regret.”41 He even pledged to crackdown on anti-regime leaflet campaigns by North Korean defectors and activists in the South, which ostensibly triggered the North’s provocations.42 More recently, in his speech marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, Moon reiterated his desire to become “friendly neighbors” with the North, underlining his peace first approach.43 Beyond the rhetoric, Moon also revamped his national security team with experienced—though controversial—figures who have extensive contacts in Pyongyang, signaling the primacy of North Korea in his foreign policy. But even as Moon’s deference allowed him to avert immediate escalation, his calls for resuming the talks have largely fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, among the greatest challenges in jump-starting inter-Korean peace talks is the worsening climate in US-China relations. Tit-for-tat reprisals over trade and technology have now spilled onto diplomatic and military domains, culminating in reciprocal consulate closures44 as well as enhanced military exercises in air and at sea.45 Further, domestic political needs will continue to aggravate their competitive impulse. Threatened by the slowing economy and the ongoing unrest in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, Xi is seeking to consolidate his power at home. Such efforts to retain support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) often entail spillover effects abroad, animating a nationalistic turn in rhetoric and policy.46 Meanwhile, Trump is facing an even greater temptation to resort to nationalism. In November, Americans will cast their votes in an election where China will feature as a prominent subject. Indeed, Republican strategists have found it politically expedient to cast the opponent Joe Biden as “soft” on Beijing47 while the Biden campaign has sought to out-hawk Trump in response.48 Tensions between Washington and Beijing will worsen as a result, making any policy coordination on North Korea practically impossible.

Depending on how the November election in the United States plays out, the situation could change suddenly and drastically. Under a new Biden administration, which appears probable based on available polls,49 Washington’s “pivot to Asia” may return, with a renewed emphasis on consolidating alliances and coordinating regional strategic action.50 On North Korea in particular, Biden has—much like Obama—underscored the importance of local alliances to manage and deter its nuclear development. Yet, unlike Obama, Biden will be compelled to act tougher on China, given his electoral rhetoric and a growing bipartisan consensus that many aspects of Chinese behavior damage US interests.51 For Moon, this carries two undesirable implications: (1) he may no longer be able to delink from Washington’s multilateral security efforts without undermining the bilateral foundation of the US-South Korea alliance; and (2) in turn, this may obstruct the kind of swift and drastic progress on inter-Korean relations that he wishes to see before the end of his term in 2022.

In the meantime, Beijing may seek to further decouple Seoul from Washington by leveraging North Korea. One promising way would be to loosen the sanctions regime against North Korea. Moon and Xi Jinping already share the belief that inducements are more productive than pressure in constraining the North’s nuclear ambitions. For Moon especially, sanctions relief is necessary to implement the breadth of inter-Korean exchanges he had planned for his term. By drawing Seoul closer to Beijing’s vision of managing North Korea—as laid out in its recent sanctions relief proposal to the UN Security Council52—Beijing may pull Seoul away from Washington’s multilateral, pressure-based approach. In fact, more concerted efforts in this respect already appear underway. When Beijing’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi visited South Korea on August 22, he pledged support for South Korea’s peace outreach with the North, but also specified China’s position in its intensifying row with the United States.53 Though implicit, the message was not lost: China’s cooperation on North Korea will be tied to South Korea’s deference, even at the expense of the United States.

Neither Biden’s win in the upcoming presidential election nor Xi’s attempts to capitalize on the narrowing scope of the US-South Korea alliance is propitious for Moon’s strategy of double allegiance. These developments—coupled with Moon’s enduring push for inter-Korean peace—will bolster Washington’s multilateral security endeavors as well as Beijing’s wedging efforts. Withdrawing from the former or defying the latter will be seen as an affront to their interests, rendering Seoul’s strategy of double allegiance increasingly untenable.


To his credit, Moon’s double allegiance allowed him to achieve what most have not: stay an ally to one and partner with its rival amid a great power competition. Where necessary, Moon made his intentions clear: he is committed to the US-South Korea alliance, but disinclined to support Washington’s regional security ambitions—particularly in containing China. Elsewhere, Moon employed more nuance: he is willing to cooperate with Beijing on issues of broad regional interest, but less keen to formalize any direct commitments. As the rivalry between Washington and Beijing becomes more acute and Seoul stays determined to appease the North, however, Moon will find himself cornered into making more exclusive concessions, to the ire of one of them. In this scenario—which seems dangerously plausible and imminent—double allegiance is likely to backfire. 

1. Rick Goldstone, “How the Cold War Between China and U.S. Is Intensifying,” The New York Times, July 22, 2020,; Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig, “Is This the Beginning of a New Cold War With China?” Foreign Policy, July 31, 2020,

2. Do Je-hae, “Korea urged to design new foreign policy, security strategies,” The Korea Times, May 17, 2020,

3. Tom Fowdy, “Moon’s Hedging Strategy: Foreign Policy in South Korea,” Sino NK, December 18, 2017,

4. Kuik Cheng-chwee, “Hedging in Post-Pandemic Asia: What, How, and Why?” The Asan Forum, June 6, 2020,

5. Ibid.

6. Darren J. Lim and Zack Cooper, “Reassessing Hedging: The Logic of Alignment in East Asia,” Security Studies 24:4 (2015), 696-727.

7. Lim and Cooper, 696.

8. Lim and Cooper, 712.

9. Doug Bandow, “South Korea Is Charting an Independent Course on China,” Cato Institute, July 27, 2020,

10. For a full text of the Panmunjom Declaration, see:

11. For a full text of the Pyongyang Declaration, see:

12. Sue Mi Terry, “The Unraveling of the U.S.-South Korean Alliance,” Foreign Affairs, July 3, 2020,

13. 김귀근, “한미연합훈련 시작하자 미국 폭격기 6대 한반도 근해 떴다,” 연합뉴스, 2020년8월19일,

14. “S. Korea, US to continue combined exercises in adjusted manner: defense minister,” The Korea Herald, March 20, 2020,

15. “Trump threatens a new troop withdrawal. It would endanger yet another U.S. relationship,” The Washington Post, July 22, 2020,

16. “U.S. official says U.S. ‘significantly flexible’ in defense cost-sharing talks with Korea,” Yonhap, August 21, 2020,

17. “Pentagon accepts S. Korea’s proposal to fund labor costs for Korean USFK workers on furlough,” Yonhap, June 3, 2020,

18. “U.S. Democratic Party platform says Biden will repair, reinvent alliances,” Yonhap, August 19, 2020

19. Eun A Jo, “Seoul’s THAAD decision and its implications for China-ROK relations,” The Asan Forum, October 6, 2016,

20. Jane Perlez, “For China, a Missile Defense System in South Korea Spells a Failed Courtship,” The New York Times, July 8, 2016.

21. Darren J. Lim and Victor Fergusson, “Chinese Economic Coercion during the THAAD Dispute,” The Asan Forum, December 28, 2019,

22. Bonnie Glaser and Lisa Collins, “China’s Rapprochement With South Korea,” Foreign Affairs, November 7, 2017,

23. “McMaster: US “welcomes” news of South Korea-China agreement,” Hankyoreh, November 4, 2017,

24. Ibid.

25. Choe Sang-hun, “South Korea Resists U.S. Pressure to Improve Ties With Japan,” The New York Times, November 15, 2019,

26. Min Joo Kim and Simon Denyer, “Under U.S. pressure, South Korea holds off ending intelligence pact with Japan,” The Washington Post, November 22, 2019,

27. “GSOMIA can be terminated at any time, S. Korea’s foreign ministry spokesperson says,” Hankyoreh, August 5, 2020,

28. Wooyeal Paik and Jae Jeok Park, “The Quad’s Search for Non-Military Roles and China’s Strategic Response: Minilateralism, Infrastructure Investment, and Regional Balancing,” Journal of Contemporary China (2020),

29. Lee Jaehyon, “Korea’s New Southern Policy: Motivations of ‘Peace Cooperation’ and Implications for the Korean Peninsula,” Asan Institute for Policy Studies, June 21, 2019,

30. Andrew Yeo, “South Korea and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” CSIS, July 20, 2020,

31. Riyaz Ul Kaliq, “South Korea, China set to hold talks on economy,” Anadolu Agency, July 30, 2020,

32. “China willing to further cooperate with South Korea on coronavirus prevention and control,” Reuters, May 13, 2020,

33. Sangmi Cha and Hyonhee Shin, “South Korea, China agree to step up exchanges to re-set ties after missile defense row,” Reuters, December 4, 2019,

34. B.J. Lee, South Korea is one of the most loyal U.S. allies. Now we’re being bullied by Trump,” The Washington Post, November 20, 2019,

35. “S. Korea, China to hold first ‘strategic’ defense talks in 5 years,” Yonhap, October 20, 2019,

36. Eun A Jo, “Moon’s Failed Balancing Act,” The Asan Forum, August 28, 2019,

37. Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Cuts Off All Communications Lines to South Korea,” The New York Times, June 8, 2020,

38. Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea’s Wrecking of Liaison Office a ‘Death Knell’ for Ties With the South,” The New York Times, June 16, 2020,

39. Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim, “South Korea’s Moon was once given VIP welcome by the North. He’s now mocked as Korean crisis deepens,” The Washington Post, June 17, 2020,

40. Ibid.

41. “North Korea Destroys Empty Liaison Office With South,” US News, June 16, 2020,

42. Choe Sang-hun, “As Floating Propaganda Irks North Korea, the South Isn’t Happy Either,” The New York Times, June 11, 2020,

43. For a full text of Moon Jae-in’s speech, see:

44. Edward Wong, Lara Jakes, and Steven Lee Myers, “U.S. Orders China to Close Houston Consulate, Citing Efforts to Steal Trade Secrets,” The New York Times, July 22, 2020,

45. Kristine Huang, “US-China relations: militaries carry out missile tests as tensions continue to simmer,” South China Morning Post, August 5, 2020,

46. Jessica Chen Weiss, “No ‘Beijing Consensus’: Why the U.S. risks a Pyrrhic victory in confronting China,” SupChina, June 29, 2020,

47. Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Annie Linskey and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Trump campaign concludes there is more to be gained by attacking Biden than trying to promote president’s pandemic response,” The Washington Post, April 18, 2020,

48. Sahil Kapur “Coronavirus turns China into a 2020 election issue as Trump and Biden clash,” NBC News, April 18, 2020,

49. Steven Shepard, “State of the presidential race: A deep dive on the polls,” Politico, August 17, 2020,

50. Jess Johnson, “Would Joe Biden be ‘Obama 2.0’ when it comes to Northeast Asia?” The Japan Times, August 21, 2020,

51. Dan Drezner, “Meet the new bipartisan consensus on China, just as wrong as the old bipartisan consensus on China,” The Washington Post, April 28, 2020,

52. Michelle Nichols, “Russia, China to hold more U.N talks on lifting North Korea sanctions: diplomats,” Reuters, December 29, 2019,

53. “South Korea, China Reaffirm Plans for Leaders’ Summit,” The New York Times, August 22, 2020,