Publication:
SOUTH KOREA AND THE THAAD: ITS DECISION AND DEPLOYMENT

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Authors
Kim, Seung
Subjects
THAAD
decision-making
alliance
Advisors
Huntley, Wade L.
Date of Issue
2020-03
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
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Abstract
This thesis divides the controversy over THAAD into the phases of decision and deployment and assesses the influence of five independent drivers in this timeline: 1) changes in pressure from the United States 2) changes in pressure from China driving external structural changes in South Korea, 3) increases in North Korea’s nuclear threat, 4) the roles of the ROK’s powerful presidency and conservative South Korea’s policymakers, and 5) political participation of the public. The thesis evaluates how these drivers influenced Korea’s decision-making from the start of the debate to the deployment of the THAAD system. This thesis argues that, first, the North Korean threat played the most critical role in the decision itself and in accelerating deployment of THAAD throughout the timeline. Second, political pressures from the U.S. and China influenced Korea’s THAAD decision in different directions. Third, ROK policy-makers, a domestic factor, influenced the THAAD deployment decision but did not affect the deployment of THAAD equipment. However, the emergence of a progressive leader with different political tendencies contributed to the delay in the full deployment of THAAD. Fourth, participation of the public did not affect the THAAD deployment decision, but for a time delayed deployment after the THAAD decision. Finally, the external factors were hardly influenced by domestic factors, whereas instead domestic factors were influenced by external factors.
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Thesis
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Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
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