Over the past ten years, heated debates have been made in Korea over the mode of relationship between South Korea and the United States. The so-called 'self-reliance diplomacy' and 'alliance diplomacy' have been at odds with each other over which side would better serve the nation's interests. The disparities between the two opposing views do not stem simply from different policy responses to the rapidly changing post-Cold War situation. Rather, they represent the divide in national politics and ideology, assessment of North Korea, and, more importantly, overall interpretation of the nature of U.S.-ROK relationship itself during the past 50 years.
This paper contends that the traditional mode of alliance between Korea and the United States now should be reshuffled for a more productive and sustainable future. It suggests a 'comprehensive value alliance' that goes far beyond the military or economic realms of mutual cooperations. Comprehensive value alliance can provide, first of all, a structural stability and durability for the relationship between the two nations. It also envisions the two countries' relatively equal status and partnership. In addition, comprehensive value alliance can easily fit into the so-called 'network international politics' in the age of globalization. Furthermore, we can expect from the two countries's value alliance the rise of new universal values in the era of post-ideology civilization. Finally, value alliance approach is able to go hand in hand with the increasing importance of 'soft power' in international relations in the 21th century.