Chapter 1: The Lee Myung-bak Revolution: Explaining Continuity and Change in South Korea’s Foreign Policy, by Alisher Khamidov.

Alisher analyzes the changes to South Korea’s foreign policy that occurred when President Lee Myung-bak came to power. In a major break from his predecessors, Lee adopted an aggressive policy toward North Korea that linked economic assistance to its abandonment of its nuclear weapons program, a break that eroded many achievements from past administrations. At the same time, Alisher points to issues where Lee’s foreign policy demonstrated a degree ofcontinuity with his predecessors. Of these, the most notable issues were Lee’s steadfast support of the KORUS FTA which was negotiated under the Roh administration, and the continued transformation of the U.S.-ROK alliance into a security alliance with only modest modification. Alisher focuses on these three issues to illustrate the divergent responses of the Lee administration to previous policy directions and poses the question as to why this variance exists, especially in light of Lee’s promise for change in his presidential campaign and the subsequent anticipation that he would bring about radical changes in all areas. Additionally, Lee’s party, the conservative GNP, won an absolute majority in the Parliament, providing legislative support and allowing for him to implement broad-based changes. Alisher addresses this puzzle by closely examining politics within the government, between political parties, and in the context of society at large. He argues that the inconsistencies in Lee’s foreign policy directions can be better understood by dispelling the myth of a bipolar political inclination in South Korea, as well as by examining the institutional constraints of Korea’s political structure as a whole.