|Global politics is a |
As I mentioned earlier tensions between China and the US are growing due to China's disagreements over south china sea claims with other south east again nations which have incidentally pushed those nations towards the US. Korea is in a difficult spot because it has historically been wedge between two powers that have vied for control over east asia, China and Japan. Korea is nervous about two things. One is that a resurgent China would begin to exert more control over the south china sea. And Korea is an export nation who controls the oceans, and hence the sea lanes, is very important. Korea does have the option to utilize the Sea of Japan, but there are possible long terms problems with that as well. Unknown to many Japan has one of the largest navies in the world. Yes Japan is predominately been focused on defense and hasn't been an aggressive power for over 50 years, but things can and do change. Korea is very cognisant of this fact, which is one reason why they have built a large navy themselves. However, this navy has been designed predominately to support the dominate navy in the region, the United States Navy. This brings additional problems for Korea.
Though it is unlikely a conflict in the South East China sea could pull in Korea if the US would be successful with their containment strategy. This would force China towards the Sea of Japan and considering the US naval bases stationed in both Korea and Japan it would probably force Korean and Japanese involvement. Korea has actively courted US naval involvement in the region, but they recognize the danger in being too dependent on the US Navy. Though the US Navy helps protect Korea, that is an incidental priority the US. The US Navy is there to safeguard US interest, and for whatever reason it isn't in the US's interest to aid Korea over China then the US won't lift a finger, though that is very unlikely currently. Even so, the Koreans recognize a need to be able to protect their interest.
In the event that conflict breaks out between China and the US Korea will need an independent military system to safeguard their interests. Korean shipping would be targeted, or incidentally targeted simply due to the confined seas and the chaos of war, and the US first priority will be dismantling threats to their task forces and not Korean maritime protection. Moreover, if the US ever ceases being the dominant naval power, then Korea will have to be able to stand on their own for maritime defense. They are currently building their maritime navy to be more independent, though not completely independent of the US naval umbrella, because it is simply a prudent move for them to do so.
This is why, despite the outcry by the Korean public, I expect they they will eventually approve the intelligence sharing agreement. They have found themselves extremely reliant on US intelligence, to the point that it is detrimental to their own defense. And utilizing Japan's intelligence network on issues where the two nations share similar interests will help them act independtly of the US if they need to do so. This isn't too say the Koreans are trying to completely pull away from the US. They aren't. But Global politics is a game of balances. There are very few nations that act unilaterally and independently in all matters, arguably even a super power like the US cannot do so. They have to balance competing interests to ensure that they have as many options available to them in the long term game.