This book provides a theoretical and empirical analysis of a key concept in East Asian security debates, sovereign autonomy, and how it reproduces hierarchy in the regional order. Park argues that contemporary strategic debates in East Asia are based on shared contextual knowledge – that of international hierarchy – reconstructed in the late-nineteenth century. The mechanism that reproduces this lens of hierarchy is domestic legitimacy politics in which embattled political leaders contest the meaning of sovereign autonomy. Park argues that the idea of status seeking has remained embedded in the concept of sovereign autonomy and endures through distinct and alternative security frames that continue to inform contemporary strategic debates in East Asia. This book makes a significant contribution to debates in international relations theory and security studies about autonomy and status, as well as to the now extensive literature on the nature of East Asian regional order.