For 50 years, the ROK-US Alliance has been contributed not only as a deterrence of war, but also as the core axis of security of Korea.  Such alliance between the two nations has seen some changes due to the national disputes in year 2005 and 2006 on the issue of change of operational control at wartime.  The discussion has led to a conflict in the ROK and even showed a separation of national consensus.  The main contents of the discussion divided in two opinions and one was the assertion that it is natural for a sovereign state to regain its operational control(OPCON) and the other was a concern that it could weaken the ROK-US Alliance.  Futhermore, on 24 February, 2007 the Defence Ministers of each country agreed to the transfer of OPCON at wartime on 17 April, 2012.
The circumstances that led for the two nations to agree on the transfer of OPCON at wartime is the United States' East Asia-Pacific strategy linked up the political leadership in Korea.  It could be said that the harmony of the respective interest of the two nations has resulted in a mutual agreement.
Hence, the purpose of this report is to try to give an answer to the following questions: "what is 'operational control'?", "why has it become controversial?", "why does the UN Armed Forces Commander have command over ROK forces?", "why has the title term changed from Operational Command(OPCOM) to Operational Control(OPCON)?", "has the ROK forces regained peacetime OPCON that the CFC Commander now only conducts wartime OPCON?".  Especially, I analyzed the historical transition process and tried to figure out what led to the changes internally and internationally.
As tools of analysis, 'Linkage Politics Theory" by James N. Rosenau, "Logic of Two-level Games" by Eugene R. Wittkope and "Funnel of Casualty Model" by Charles W. Kegley were referred to in ordered to analyze the connection between international politics and domestic politics.  8 factors were used to analyze-four for international politics and the other four for domestic politics-and they are 'international political system', 'political status of surrounding regions', 'security strategies of counterpart states" and "changes in the perception of threat" for international politics and "domestic political system and political leadership", "national status", "individual capacity" and "the people's demand" for domestic politics.  In this report, I analyzed the transition process of the ROK forces OPCON in a vertical manner and expanded the range of analysis horizontally by selecting US-Japan and US-Germany Combined Operation Command System to analyze as representative examples abroad.
The results of analysis are as follow.  First of all, I analyzed the transition process of the ROK forces' OPCON.  The ROK forces had command over itself when they were first established.  However, as South Korea lost the ability to defend itself against the north's surprise attack, the incumbent president of South Korea, Seungman Lee, had no other choice but to hand over OPCON to the US.  Thus, the ROK forces fought in the war for the sake of its country under the command of the UN Armed Forces Commander.  The term OPCOM changed to OPCON by the 'Agreed Minute Relating to Continued Cooperation in Economy and Military Matters' on 17 November, 1954.  After the military revolution, the Highest Council of National Reconstruction and the United Nations Command mutually admitted to the secession of a certain part of the ROK forces during the coup through a Joint Statement(5.26.1961).  Also, the two organizations returned the OPCON over 2 divisions, 1 special forces brigade, and 5 military police company.  At the ROK-US summit in 1968, in the case of a counter infiltration operation the summit reached to an agreement to release the OPCON of UNC Commander and transfer it to the ROK forces.
Especially, there is a need to highlight on how the ROK forces were ensured independent OPCOM and execute operations as they deployed combatants to Vietnam during the Vietnam war in response to the United States' requests.  The US wanted to release the ROK forces deployed of its OPCOM under the UNC and wanted to have command over the ROK combatants through the US Armed Forces Command in Vietnam.  However, ROK's 3 individuals endeavor paid off and the ROK forces were ensured independent OPCOM and executed in cooperative joint operations with the US forces stationed in Vietnam.  The 3 people were Foreign Affairs Minister, Lee Dong Won, Defence Minister, Kim Sung Eun, and Commander, Chae Myung Shin.
As the ROK-US CFC was established on 7 November, 1978, the ROK forces were released from the unilateral command under the UNC Commander to the OPCON of ROK-US CFC Commander.  After such course of action, the ROK forces and the US forces could constitute to a combined defence system.
'Koreanization of ROK's defence' was suggested as a result of downsizing the number of US forces in Korea in the 'Nunn-Warner Amendment" in 1989 and in EASI in 1990.  Also, the domestic political system in Korea was very much democratized and modernization of ROK forces has reached a certain level.  These conditions allowed changes which strengthened the ROK forces status.  As a result, in 1991 the UNCMAC Senior Member was replaced for good by ROK generals and, at the same time, in 1992 Ground Component Command(GCC)'s commander was changed to ROK Generals as well.  Accordingly, on 1 December, 1994, the ROK government recovered peacetime OPCON and, thus, took one step further towards execution of independent OPCON.
The following paragraph is a result of analysis and assessment on how the above mentioned transition progress is related to international politics and domestic politics.  The ROK's command over itself has changed due to factors in international politics.  However, it was a consequence of a endeavor to make rational choices to survive and to assure independence.  In other words, it was a result of our efforts to gain military sovereignty on our own instead of being forced and coerced by external environmental factors.  Just as how South Korea had chosen to endow the US its once independent command when the ROK forced were first established due to North's invasion and wage of war, various factors in different aspects led to the gradual transfer of OPCON back to its original owner.  Despite threats from abroad, the international political system, and security strategies by the US, the ROK gradually assured itself independence in terms of OPCON thanks to growth of national power, elevation of national status,  increase in the people's demand for independence as the domestic politics became more democratized, political leadership and individual efforts.
Command structures of the US-Japan Combined Operation and the US-Germany Combined Operation under the NATO were chosen and analyzed as examples abroad.  The command structure of the US-Japan Combined Operation is similar to ROK-US alliance in that they are both under mutual alliances and it is what the ROK plans to reach in that it is a compatible command structure that allows independent OPCOM on its own country.  Also, the US-Germany Combined Operation allows for the western Germany to form a command structure under a collective security organization called the NATO.  What we aim for is a reunified country and building a multilateral security cooperative structure in order to guarantee ourselves peace and stability.  Hence, the US-Germany Combined Operation holds as a great example for us.  In comparison to the other two combined operations mentioned beforehand, the ROK-US Combined Operation is scheduled to gradually change to a compatible command structure once South Korea disorganizes the current ROK-US CFC and recovers OPCON at wartime.  The US-Japan Combined Operation has agreed upon  blueprint for a similar joint operation command structure by restructuring Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the US Forces in Japan and, thus, complementing the current structure.  Moreover, the US-Germany command structure is promoting a double efforts to strengthening the relations between the two countries by including the Unified Confederate Troops into NATO and, at the same time, participating actively in establishing the EU's independent security organization.
What is the prospects for ROK-US Joint Operation Command Structure later on?  As the superpowers' interests came to confront each other due to transition of international political axis from the European continent to Asia, indications for conflict start to reveal themselves.  As a result, the East Asia region has become more instable due to the superpowers' arms race and owing to the absence of a collective security organization in Asia the uncertainty in security may grow as well.  Considering such surrounding security circumstances, ROK cannot avoid the influences from abroad.  Thus, we had to relinquish the command over ROK forces to the UNC commander as the North invaded South.  History is said to repeat itself.  We should note that there is no permanent foe or eternal enemy in international political society and take in the transition process of both US-Japan and US-Germany Combined Operation Command Structure as a lesson to make wise strategical choices and focus the efforts from the people.
Consequently, international politics in the 21st century can become more and more complicated and diversified in terms of its connection with domestic politics due to the increase in actors of international politics and the increase in mutual dependency.  For the national interest, in consideration for the 8 factors of transition factors of international politics and domestic politics individual capacitiy must be developed in areas such as domestic political leadership, lawmakers, professional officials, and field commanders.  Especially, OPCON over the ROK forces is not only a ROK-US matter, but it also goes out to relate to the DPRK and China, which signed to the armistice agreement with the UN.  In order to ensure independent OPCON and accomplish a reunified Korea, it is significant that we develop diplomatic capacity  by conforming to international politics.  So, we should reestablish the characteristics and roles of UNC to sustain the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and gather national wisdom together to seek after a transition towards a peaceful system.