"The United States maintains a strong, multifaceted alliance relationship with South Korea that has for decades served vital interests of both sides. Against the background of continuing difficulties in dealing with North Korea and the dramatic consequences of the Asian economic crisis, the two governments face a range of security, economic, and political issues that involve the Congress in its oversight and appropriations capacities, and in frequent exchanges between congressional offices and the South Korean government. Heading the list of issues is how to deal with the North Korean regime. The Bush Administration seeks policy changes from North Korea regarding weapons of mass destruction, conventional forces, and international inspections of its nuclear facilities. Tensions arose after North Korea revealed a secret nuclear program in October 2002. The Bush Administration also faces policy decisions on food aid to North Korea, North Korea's inclusion on the U.S. terrorism list, and U.S. responses to South Korea's 'sunshine policy' toward North Korea. President Kim Dae-jung seeks reconciliation with North Korea following the historical North-South summit meeting of June 2000. He has urged the United States to engage North Korea and make concessions to Pyongyang as a support for his policy. The Bush Administration's position on the sunshine policy is mixed, supporting some elements but having reservations about others."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98045
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/