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South Korea–United States relations
South Korea   United States
Map indicating location of South Korea and United States
     South Korea      United States

South Korea–United States relations have been most extensive since 1948, when the United States helped establish capitalism in South 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 US 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. However, relations between the United States and South Korea have greatly strengthened under the Lee Myung-bak administration. At the 2009 G-20 London summit, U.S. President Barack Obama called South Korea "one of America's closest allies and greatest friends." [1]

Contents

Historical background

In the mid-19th century, Korea closed its borders to Western trade. In the General Sherman Incident, Korean forces attacked a U.S. merchant ship sent to negotiate a trade treaty and killed its crew, after it defied instructions from Korean officials. A U.S. retribution attack, the Sinmiyangyo, followed.

Korea and the U.S. ultimately established trade relations in 1882. Relations soured again when the U.S. negotiated peace in the Russo-Japanese War. In 1905, Japan persuaded the U.S. to accept Korea as part of Japan's sphere of influence, and the U.S. did not protest when Japan annexed Korea five years later. Korean nationalists petitioned the U.S. to support their cause at the Versailles Treaty conference under Woodrow Wilson's principle of national self-determination, without success.

The U.S. divided Korea after World War II along the 38th parallel, intending it as a temporary measure. However, the breakdown of negotiations between the United States and People's Republic of China prevented a reunification.

Security

Embassy of South Korea in Washington, D.C.

Diplomats in both countries maintain that the roughly 29,000 United States Forces Korea troops should remain in South Korea as long as Seoul wants them. Not only did 94 percent of South Koreans (at its highest) support the presence of the forces, but even the vocal opposition parties favored a continued U.S. Military presence in South Korea. Stability in the Korean peninsula, they argued, had been maintained because strong Seoul-Washington military cooperation deterred further aggression.

Other policymakers felt that American troops should gradually be leaving the country. They argued that South Korea in the late 1980s was more capable of coping with North Korea which has a far smaller economy. In Washington, meanwhile, an increasing number of United States politicians advocated troop withdrawal for budgetary reasons. The consultations on restructuring the Washington-Seoul security relationship held during Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's February 1990 visit to South Korea marked the beginning of the change in status of U.S. forces - from a leading to a supporting role in the country's defense.

See also

References

External links

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