The year 2003 was the 50th anniversary of the ROK- U.S. alliance. During the past half century, the ROK- U.S. alliance has been considered a great success. The bilateral alliance was usually deemed a friendship cemented in blood, marked by memories of shared sacrifice. The alliance has served as an effective security framework to deter North Korean aggression. In addition, it has helped to create a stable environment for economic dynamism and democratic consolidation within South Korea. Yet, the alliance now lies at a crossroads. The change in the global and regional strategic environment in Northeast Asia, the widening perception gap between the United States and South Korea about threats from North Korea, and policy divergence between the two governments have produced tension, fissure, and mutual distrust between the two allies. Therefore, there are mounting doubts and pessimism about the future of the U.S.-ROK alliance. At a recent academic conference, Cato Institute researcher Doug Bandow said the United States has no vital interests in Korea that justify huge costs and sacrifice and that the two nations need to prepare for divorce.