South Korea–United States relations (Hangul: 한미 관계; Hanja: 韓美 關係; RR: Hanmi gwangye; MR: Hanmi kwan'gye) refers to international relations between South Korea and the United States. Relations have been extensive since 1950, when the United States helped establish the modern state of South Korea, also known as the Republic of Korea, and fought on its UN-sponsored side in the Korean War (1950–1953). During the subsequent four decades, South Korea experienced tremendous economic, political and military growth, and significantly reduced U.S. dependency. From Roh Tae-woo's administration to Roh Moo-hyun's administration, South Korea sought to establish an American partnership, which has made the Seoul–Washington relationship subject to some strains, especially with the Anti-US/Korean sentiments. However, relations between the United States and South Korea have greatly strengthened under the conservative, pro-U.S. Lee Myung-bak administration. At the 2009 G20 London summit, U.S. President Barack Obama called South Korea "one of America's closest allies and greatest friends." In addition, South Korea has been designated as a Major non-NATO ally.
Currently, there are four factors largely shaping this alliance; 1) challenges posed by North Korea (or the overcoming of the challenges) especially regarding North Korea's possession of weapon of mass destruction and its potential usage, 2) China's rising influence in Northeast Asia which has become more and more impactful in different areas of U.S. – South Korea alliance, 3) South Korea's transformation into one of the largest leading economies (with a strong export-base), and 4) South Korean leaders’ advantage of using their middle-power state to play a global role. (International Relations of Asia 306 – 311pp)
According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 58% of South Koreans view the United States' influence positively, while 28% view it negatively; 55% of Americans view South Korea's influence positively, while 34% view it negatively. South Korea is one of the most pro-American nations in the world.
The new US Ambassador to South Korea arrived in Seoul on July 7, 2018. The post had been vacant since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. Harry Harris, a former head of the US military's Pacific Command, has expressed his resolve to work as an ambassador to strengthen the alliance between the United States and South Korea.
|South Korea–United States relations|
|South Korean Embassy, Washington D.C.||United States Embassy, Seoul|
|Ambassador Cho Yoon-je||Ambassador Harry B. Harris Jr.|
Leaders of South Korea and the United States from 1950
The United States and the Joseon Dynasty established diplomatic relations on May 22, 1882 under the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882. It was the first time Korea signed a treaty with a Western nation. The first U.S. diplomatic envoy arrived in Korea in 1883. Diplomatic relations lasted until 1905 at the end of the Russo-Japanese War, while the United States was at peace, the Empire of Japan persuaded the United States to accept direct control over Korean foreign affairs with Korea under its sphere of influence until Japanese colonial rule in Korea in 1910.
Following Japanese surrender at the end of the Second World War, the Allied Powers divided the Korean peninsula along the 38th Parallel with two occupation zones with the United States in the south, and the Soviet Union in the north that would later become North Korea. On August 15, 1948, the southern half of Korea declared independence as the Republic of Korea with Syngman Rhee as president. The United States recognized the Republic of Korea as an independent state on January 1, 1949 and diplomatic relations between two countries were established on March 25 in the following year.
Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th Parallel escalated into open warfare when the North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. The Korean War broke out when North Korea invaded South Korea. In response, 16 member countries of the United Nations, including the United States, came to the defense of South Korea. It was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War with extensive deployment of American and other troops.
Following the end of World War II, the United States established a bilateral alliance with South Korea instead of establishing a multilateral alliance with South Korea and other East Asian countries.
Moreover, the "U.S. alliance with South Korea would consequently have three functions. First, it would serve as part of a network of alliances and military installations designed to ring the Soviet threat in the Pacific. Second, it would deter a second North Korean attack, with U.S. ground troops serving as the "tripwire" guaranteeing U.S. involvement. Third, it would restrain the South from engaging in adventurism."
South Korea and the United States agreed to a military alliance in 1953. They called it "the relationship forged in blood". In addition, roughly 29,000 United States Forces Korea troops are stationed in South Korea. In 2009, South Korea and the United States pledged to develop the alliance's vision for future defense cooperation. Currently South Korean forces would fall under United States control should the war resume. This war time control is planned to revert to South Korea in 2020.
At the request of the United States, President Park Chung-hee sent troops to Vietnam to assist American troops during the Vietnam War, maintaining the second largest contingent of foreign troops after the United States. In exchange, the United States increased military and economic assistance to South Korea. President Roh Moo-hyun, despite having been elected on a liberal platform, also authorized dispatching a small contingent of troops to Iraq in 2004 at the request of President George W. Bush.
Since 2009 air forces of South Korea and the U.S.A. have conducted the annual joint exersices named "Max Thunder". In 2018 the drills began on May 11 and continued until May 17.
At a Cabinet meeting in Seoul on 10 July 2018 the government has decided not to hold this year's Ulchi drill scheduled for next month. Government said the decision was made in line with recent political and security improvements on the peninsula and the suspension of South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises.
There were six round of talks according to the defense costs. Last ones are held 22–23 August.
One of the key reasons behind the formation of the two nations’ alliance is the deterrence of North Korea and the issue of de-nuclearization of the country. In 2018, summits between the three countries have happened more frequently than in the past decade altogether. It seems the Trump Administration's prioritized approaching North Korea one of the prioritized U.S. foreign policy. With the change of administrations in both the United States and South Korea in 2016 and 2017 respectively, today both approach North Korea in a peaceful manner.
The current South Korean President Moon Jae-in, elected in May 2017, has said he supports the continuation of sanctions against North Korea if it is aimed at bringing North Korea out of its “hermit” to the negotiating table. He also argued, at the same time, that he was against a “sanctions-only” approach toward North Korea. His approach to North Korea is similar to Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy, which only continued up to the Roh Mu-hyun's administration.
The United States and South Korea are allies under the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty. Under the agreement, U.S. military personnel have maintained a continuous presence on the Korean peninsula and are committed to helping Korea defend itself, particularly against any type of aggression from the North. South Korea is included under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
After the North Korean satellite launch in February 2016, US and ROK officials made a joint statement that the allies would examine the deployment of T.H.A.A.D (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) to South Korea, prompting harsh reactions from China and Russia. China complained that the THADD system could be configured to allow US to monitor airspace deep into the Chinese territory. The Chinese ambassador had repeatedly warned before to Seoul that the China-ROK relationship could be destroyed if the US places T.H.A.A.D. in South Korea. However, South Korean officials have stood against China's threats and established T.H.A.A.D. on the Korean Peninsula.
On February 10, 2019, South Korea and the United States confirmed that a year long deal for keeping American troops, numbering 28,500,in South Korea had been made. This was in exchanged for South Korea paying 925 million dollars to the United States.
Since the end of the Korean War, South Korea and the United States have maintained strong ties.
According to Pew Research Center, 84% of South Koreans have a favorable view towards the United States and Americans (ranked within top 4 among the countries in the world). Also, according to a Korean Gallup poll, South Korea views the U.S. as the most favorable country in the world. In the political side, the United States supported South Korea after 1945 as a "staunch bastion against communism", even when it was ruled by a dictatorship. In a March 2011 Gallup Poll, 74% of South Koreans said that they believe that the U.S. influence in the world is favorable, and in a November 2011 Gallup Poll, 57% of South Koreans approved of U.S. leadership, with 22% disapproving; by contrast, only 30% of South Koreans approved of China's leadership.
Americans are steadily viewing South Korea more positively as well, with the 2011 Gallup poll – a 65% favorability rating – being the highest rating to date. Thus, the relationship between the two countries, as indicated by polling results, is steadily improving.
On February 9, 2000, the Eighth U.S. Army ordered twenty boxes of formaldehyde, a toxic fluid, dumped into the Han River. South Korean environmentalist groups protested that it could be harmful to aquatic life forms, but the U.S. military insisted that it was diluted with water. This incident was satirized in the 2006 South Korean monster film The Host, where a horrible mutated monster from the river menaces the inhabitants of Seoul.
The Government of South Korea banned imports of U.S. beef in 2003 in response to a case of mad cow disease in Washington state. In 2008, the protests against U.S. beef recalled the student "pro-democracy" movements of the 1980s. Nevertheless, South Korea became the world's third largest U.S. beef importer in 2010. With its strong import growth, South Korea surpassed Japan for the first time to become the largest market for U.S. beef in Asia and in 2016 US beef imports in Korea reached a value of $1 billion.
As South Korea underwent rapid economic growth that boosted the small nation into one of the largest industrialized countries, South Korea has been one of U.S.’s largest trading partners. The democratization movements in the 1980s and the “econophoria” of the country helped raise South Korea into a middle regional power that holds the potential to influence U.S. policy in NE Asia, especially towards the United States. approach to North Korea.
South Korea and the United States are important economic partners to each other. Nearly 60 billion dollars of trade volume between the two countries display the significant economic interdependence between the two states. However, according to the CRS report, South Korea is much more economically reliant on the United States than the United States is on South Korea. This is supported with the fact that the United States ranks first as a trading partner for South Korea. However, a recent policy brief introduces the fact that the ratio of exports to the United States has declined significantly from around 40 percent to less than 20 percent in 2002 while the share of exports to China has increased drastically which led China to become the number one export destination for South Korea. Although the economy of South Korea and the United States is becoming more integrated with the recent ratification of the KORUS Free Trade Agreement, there remains some major trade disputes between the two nations in the areas including telecommunications, automotive industry, intellectual property rights issues, pharmaceutical industry, and agricultural industry especially in terms of rice and beef.
South Korea's export-driven economy and competition with domestic U.S. producers in certain fields of products have led to some trade friction with the United States. For example, imports of certain steel and non-steel products have been subject to U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations – a total of 29 U.S. imports from South Korea have been assessed.
Afghanistan becomes the 15th such country the U.S. has declared a major non-NATO ally. The list includes Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
The 2008 US beef protest in South Korea was a series of protest demonstrations between 24 May 2008 and about 18 July 2008 in Seoul, Korea. At its height, the protest involved up to one million people. The protest began after the South Korean government reversed a ban on US beef imports. The ban had been in place since December 2003, when the prion responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or 'mad cow disease' was detected in US beef cattle. The protests occurred on a background of talks concerning the US-Korea free trade agreement. Due to the propagandistic nature of the country's press, a large part of the unrest was stirred by local media reports such as the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) PD Notebook program "Is American Beef Really Safe from Mad Cow Disease?" televised on 27 April 2008.Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
In the United States Government, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP, originally the Office of Chinese Affairs) is part of the United States Department of State and is charged with advising the Secretary of State and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs on matters of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as dealing with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with countries in that area. It is headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who reports to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.Embassy of South Korea, Washington, D.C.
The Embassy of South Korea in Washington, D.C. is the diplomatic mission of South Korea to the United States. Its main chancery is located at 2450 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C., in the Embassy Row neighborhood. The current ambassador is Cho Yoon-je.Due to the rather small size of its main chancery building, the embassy has an annex nearby in Arlington County, Virginia. It also occupies two additional buildings close to its main chancery building to house its Consular Section and a Korean Cultural Center. The ambassador's residence is located in the nearby Spring Valley neighborhood, close to American University.The embassy operates consulates general in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. In addition to those consulates general, the embassy also maintains a consulate agency in Guam as well as two consular offices in Anchorage and Dallas.A statue of Dr. Philip Jaisohn, an independence activist and journalist, was dedicated in 2008 in front of the Consular Section building at 2320 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.Embassy of the United States, Seoul
The Embassy of the United States in Seoul is the embassy of the United States in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), in the capital city of Seoul. The embassy is charged with diplomacy and South Korea–United States relations. The United States Ambassador to Korea is the head of the diplomatic mission of the United States to South Korea.Fucking USA
"Fucking USA", often called "Fuck'n USA", is a protest song written by South Korean singer and activist Yoon Min-suk. Strongly anti-US Foreign policy and anti-Bush, the song was written in 2002 at a time when, following the Apolo Ohno Olympic controversy and an incident in which two Korean middle school students were killed by a U.S. Army vehicle, anti-American sentiment in Korea reached high levels. Musically it is a parody of "Surfin' U.S.A.", and though it has a vulgar aspect it is not supposed to be, according to Yoon, just an angsty punk-type song but a serious critique of the Bush Administration and US foreign policy in particular in the Korean peninsula, just conveyed in an ironic and jokingly vitriolic way.In 2012 the US band Neung Phak covered the song on their album Neung Phak 2.Key Resolve
Key Resolve, previously known as Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, Integration (RSOI) which was previously known as Team Spirit even earlier, is an annual command post exercise (CPX) held by United States Forces Korea with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. It is conducted between February and April and focuses on United States Pacific Command OPLANs that support the defense of South Korea. Additionally, US units are moved to Korea from other areas and they conduct maneuvers and gunnery exercises. ROK units also conduct maneuvers with some acting as the Opposing force (OPFOR). Since 2001, Key Resolve combined with the annual combined field training exercise (FTX) Foal Eagle. Doctrinally, RSOI is detailed in FM 100-17-3, the field manual for RSOI.
This exercise, like the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise, regularly leads to accusations by North Korea that it is a prelude to an invasion by the United States and South Korea.Japan supports the joint drills of South Korea and the USA, considering it to be a deterrent power in the Asian-Pacific region.After the North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit in February 2019, the United States Department of Defense announced that that United States and South Korea "decided to conclude the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of exercises".Koreagate
"Koreagate" was an American political scandal in 1976 involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress. An immediate goal of the scandal seems to have been reversing President Richard Nixon's decision to withdraw troops from South Korea. It involved the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) allegedly funneling bribes and favors through Korean businessman Tongsun Park in an attempt to gain favor and influence for South Korean objectives.List of ambassadors of the United States to South Korea
The United States Ambassador to South Korea (Hangul: 주한미국대사; Hanja: 駐韓美國大使) is the chief diplomatic representative of the United States accredited to the Republic of Korea. The ambassador's official title is "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Korea."The current ambassador, Harry B. Harris Jr., who previously served as an admiral in the United States Navy, was sworn in on June 30, 2018.MB Doctrine
MB Doctrine is the foreign policy doctrine of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak. The policy advocates engagement with North Korea and strong South Korea-United States relations.Major non-NATO ally
Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) is a designation given by the United States government to close allies that have strategic working relationships with the US Armed Forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While the status does not automatically include a mutual defense pact with the United States, it still confers a variety of military and financial advantages that otherwise are not obtainable by non-NATO countries.Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea
Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea (Hangul: 대한민국과 미합중국간의 상호방위조약; Hanja: 韓美相互防衛條約) is a treaty between South Korea and the United States signed on 1 October 1953, two months after the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement which brought a halt to the fighting in the Korean War. The agreement commits the two nations to provide mutual aid if either faces external armed attack and allows the United States to station military forces in South Korea in consultation with the South Korean government.OPLAN 5027
Operations Plan 5027 (OPLAN 5027) are a series of military operations plans made by the United States and South Korea for the defense against a possible North Korean invasion.Subcommittee on International Organizations of the Committee on International Relations
The Subcommittee on International Organizations of the Committee on International Relations (also known as the Fraser Committee) was a committee of the United States House of Representatives which met in 1976 and 1977 and conducted an investigation into South Korea–United States relations. It was chaired by Representative Donald M. Fraser of Minnesota. The committee's 447-page report, made public on November 29, 1977, reported on plans by the National Intelligence Service (South Korea) (KCIA) to manipulate American institutions to the advantage of South Korean government policies, overtly and covertly.Among the topics the committee's report covered were South Korean plans to plant an intelligence network in the White House and to influence the United States Congress, newsmedia, clergy, and educators. The committee found that the KCIA decided to work with the Unification Church of the United States and that some church members worked as volunteers in Congressional offices. Together they founded the Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization which undertook a public diplomacy campaign for the Republic of Korea. The committee also investigated possible KCIA influence on the Unification Church's campaign in support of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.The report of the committee also found that the KCIA planned to grant money to American universities in order to attempt to influence them for political purposes. It also said that the KCIA had harassed and intimidated South Koreans living in the United States if they protested against Republic of Korea government policies.Support for United States-Republic of Korea Civil Nuclear Cooperation Act
The Support for United States-Republic of Korea Civil Nuclear Cooperation Act (S. 1901) is a bill that would authorize the President of the United States to extend the term of the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy to a date no later than March 19, 2016. The extended agreement would allow the United States and South Korea to continue working on joint nuclear power projects.The bill passed both the House and the Senate during the 113th United States Congress.Team Spirit
Team Spirit was a joint military training exercise of United States Forces Korea and the Military of South Korea held between 1976 and 1993. The exercise was also scheduled from 1994 to 1996 but cancelled during this time period as part of diplomatic efforts to encourage the Government of North Korea to disable the North Korean nuclear weapons program. The North Korea regime abandoned talks following the January 1986 Team Spirit exercises, and in late 1992, North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the South-North High-Level Talks due to the 1993 Team Spirit exercise.
Until 2007 the exercise had been called "Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration of Forces" (RSOI). As of March 2008, it is called Key Resolve. North Korea has denounced the joint military exercise as a "war game aimed at a northward invasion."U.S.–South Korea Status of Forces Agreement
The U.S.–South Korea Status of Forces Agreement (Hangul: 주한 미군 지위 협정; Hanja: 駐韓美軍地位協定, SOFA), formally Agreement under Article IV of the Mutual Defence Treaty between the Republic of Korea and the United States, Regarding Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea, is an agreement between South Korea and the U.S. approved and enacted in 1967 and revised in 1991 and 2001. It is a status of forces agreement that concerns the treatment of United States Forces in South Korea. Lt. General Jan-Marc Jouas is the U.S. representative to the joint committee on the Status of Forces Agreement.
The U.S.-South Korea Status of Forces Agreement is often a focal point for political disputes regarding US presence in South Korea. The agreement's promotion of U.S military presence in South Korea has served as a catalyst for many base expansion protests such as the Daechuri Protests which was a 2005/6 protest against the expansion of U.S. military base Camp Humphreys.United States Army Military Government in Korea
The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) was the official ruling body of the southern half of the Korean Peninsula from September 8, 1945 to August 15, 1948.
The country during this period was plagued with political and economic chaos, which arose from a variety of causes. The after-effects of the Japanese occupation were still being felt in the occupation zone, as well as in the Soviet zone in the North. Popular discontent stemmed from the U.S. Military Government's support of the Japanese colonial government; then once removed, keeping the former Japanese governors on as advisors; by ignoring, censoring and forcibly disbanding the functional and popular People's Republic of Korea (PRK); and finally by supporting United Nations elections that divided the country.In addition, the U.S. military was largely unprepared for the challenge of administering the country, arriving with no knowledge of the language or political situation. Thus, many of their policies had unintended destabilizing effects. Waves of refugees from North Korea (estimated at 400,000) and returnees from abroad also helped to keep the country in turmoil.United States beef imports in South Korea
U.S. beef imports in South Korea made up a $504 million industry for the American beef industry in 2010.
The import of U.S. beef was banned in 2003 in South Korea and in other nations after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in the United States. At the time, South Korea was the third-largest purchaser of U.S. beef exports, with an estimated market value of $815 million. After a number of failed attempts at reopening the Korean market, imports finally resumed in July 2008 leading to the massive 2008 US beef protest in South Korea. In 2010, South Korea again became the world's third largest U.S. beef importer.Yangju highway incident
The Yangju highway incident, also known as the Yangju training accident or Highway 56 Accident, occurred on June 13, 2002, in Yangju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. A United States Army armored vehicle-launched bridge, returning to base in Uijeongbu on a public road after training maneuvers in the countryside, struck and killed two 14-year-old South Korean schoolgirls, Shin Hyo-sun (Korean: 신효순) and Shim Mi-seon (Korean: 심미선).
The American soldiers involved were found not guilty of negligent homicide in the court martial, further inflaming anti-American sentiment in South Korea and sparking a series of candlelight vigil protests in protest of their wrongful deaths. The memory of the two schoolgirls is commemorated annually in South Korea.