In 2014, South Korea will be facing many challenges and choices regarding its security and defense due to the changes in its relations with regional powers, the growing instability and increasing nuclear threats of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime, and intensifying maritime disputes. South Korea should resolve issues regarding the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON), the core of its defense system, develop the ROK-US alliance in a future-oriented manner, and improve its defense system so that it can actively respond to threats from North Korea and deal with maritime disputes. This calls for improvements in defense diplomacy, strengthening of defense capabilities, and effective implementation of defense reform. Considering the bleak outlook for the global economy in 2014 and the limitations it will likely impose on the defense budget, there may be many difficulties involved in building a defense system that can satisfy the security demands. This requires more thorough understanding on the realities of the defense situation and more effective pursuit of defense policy and strategy. This paper aims to improve understanding of South Korea’s defense environment by discussing major defense issues and policy direction for South Korea in 2014.