International politics after the Cold War called our attention to the shifting paradigms in the discipline of international relations. The shift included meta-theoretical attempts for transformations beyond the problem-solving theories searching for systemic stability. Democratic peace theory set itself apart from other system theories by seeking changes at the unit level, and it was closely related to actual policy objectives. The relevance of this theory, however, seemed not to be universal to all the regions, and the reality of Northeast Asia required considerations of the region’s particularities as well as general tendencies of the post-Cold War world. Although the liberal peace approach led by the United States has come to form a new global standard in the post-Cold War period and it bears implications for positive changes in the long run, it has its limits in initiating a new virtuous cycle in Northeast Asia. The limitations come from the aspects of realpolitik in American liberalism on the one hand, and from particular characteristics of Northeast Asian states on the other. That is why we need to think about alternative second images for the host of problems besetting the region, including the cross-straits tensions, the Japan question, and the North Korean problem. It means a consideration of the new political order which can solve the dilemma between status quo and transformation in Northeast Asia.