This article focuses on South Korean attitudes toward the South Korean-U.S. alliance by comparing three political groups. Using a nationwide survey of South Koreans conducted in 2007, it performs two quantitative analyses: cluster analysis to identify distinct political groups and regression analysis to test hypotheses drawn from literature about what influences public attitudes toward the alliance. This study draws four major conclusions about attitudes toward the alliance: (1) There is strong support for the alliance among South Koreans, including anti-American progressives. (2) For conservatives and centrists, the traditional rationale for the alliance—deterrence of North Korean aggression—remains a basic foundation for the alliance. (3) Among the three groups, there is a developing consensus on a new rationale for the alliance of promoting inter-Korean reconciliation. (4) The younger generation, which constitutes a large majority of the voting public, exhibits moderation and pragmatism in its ideological orientation, contradicting the commonly held view that it heavily slants progressive. These findings can offer important guidance for the future of the alliance.
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