To the Blue-Water
This chapter argues that unique and constant operational challenge posed by North Korea in the littoral waters of the Korean Peninsula does not relieve the pressure that the wider East Asian strategic environment places on South Korea. It examines how the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) is developing a blue-water force to meet these challenges. It argues that despite the development of a blue-water navy since the early 1990s, at no point did the ROKN ignore the threat posed by North Korea. Instead, it is attempting to create a force structure than can both maintain deterrence in the littoral waters of the Korean Peninsula, protect South Korean maritime interests in the Northeast Asian region and protect South Korean’s Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC). The chapter proceeds by examining South Korea’s maritime security interests in Northeast Asia, its perception of SLOC security including its role in the South China Sea and its desire to become a central tool in South Korea’s implementation of its global foreign and security policy. The chapter then addresses how the ROKN plans to balance the requirements for peninsular deterrence and warfighting with its future more expansive mission set and the difficulties it currently faces in meeting all of South Korea’s maritime security requirements.