U.S. foreign policy toward North Korea under the Clinton and Bush administrations (1993-2009)
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We attempt to explain the source of changes in U.S. foreign policy toward North Korea by adopting neoclassical realism and argue that it is much more helpful in explaining U.S. foreign policy than the neo-realist model. The process-tracing of U.S. foreign policy toward North Korea between 1993 and 2009 shows that external factors such as North Korean provocations are filtered through U.S. top leaders’ philosophy and perceptions, and that U.S. domestic politics determine the distribution of available political and societal resources to implement specific policies and strategies. The preference of the South Korean government also played an intervening role, since it was a critical stakeholder in the North Korea issue and an important ally of the U.S. We argue that short-term changes in foreign policies – timing and style – can be better explained by the chain reactions of North Korean moves, leaders’ perceptions, domestic political repercussions in the U.S., and policy coordination efforts with South Korea, rather than by North Korean actions themselves or global structural changes.