Cooperation on missile defense between South Korea and Japan would help blunt threats from North Korea. But Japanese officials' recent insensitivity to Imperial Japan's painful role in World War II, including forcing South Koreans to become 'comfort women,' works against cooperation.
Mr. Bae was detained and sentenced to 15 years in prison. North Korea today spelled out its charges, which include plotting to overthrow the government.
As President Obama meets today with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, how closely they agree on policy toward North Korea and whether they establish a good working relationship will be key to dealing with an increasingly dangerous new leadership in Pyongyang.
Many Korea watchers speculated that once joint military drills ended, so would increased tensions with North Korea. But at least one analyst says this might be the moment the North lashes out again.