Columbia International Affairs Online: Journals

CIAO DATE: 12/2010

U.S.-Korea Relations Chronology

Comparative Connections

A publication of:
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Volume: 11, Issue: 1 (April 2009)


Full Text

Jan. 1, 2009: State-run North Korean newspapers refrain from issuing their usual blistering New Year's Day diatribe against the U.S. and reaffirm North Korea’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Jan. 5, 2009: The U.S. agrees to a South Korea-proposed timetable for relocating its military command out of Seoul by 2014, but the sides remain split on when to complete the relocation of a frontline U.S. Army base. Jan. 6, 2009: Opposition members of Parliament end their violent 12-day siege of South Korea’s Parliament after successfully delaying a key vote on the KORUS FTA. The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) agrees to postpone the vote until after Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Jan. 6, 2009: A team of senior South Korean officials and academics led by Deputy National Security Adivsor Kim Tae-hyo arrives in Washington to meet some of Obama’s diplomatic aides and Korea experts at Washington-based think tanks. Jan. 7, 2009: U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley says intelligence officials are growing more concerned that North Korea may be continuing uranium-based activities. Jan. 8, 2009: New York Times reports that a group of former Korean prostitutes have accused past South Korean governments and the U.S. military of taking a direct hand in the sex trade from the 1960s through the 1980s. Jan. 13, 2009: North Korean Foreign Ministry calls for “free field access” to ensure there are no nuclear weapons in South Korea. The statement also says that the North will not to give up its nuclear weapons until the U.S. drops its “hostile policy” and establishes diplomatic relations. Jan. 17, 2009: Foreign Ministry of North Korea announces the country would maintain its “status as a nuclear weapons state” as long as it perceived a nuclear threat from the U.S. Jan. 17, 2009: North Korean military declares an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South and threatens a naval clash. Jan. 30, 2009: The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the North’s agency in charge of relations with the South, declares all political and military agreements with South Korea void, including the 1991 Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Exchange. Jan. 30, 2009: Yonhap reports that a South Korean Navy destroyer has sailed into waters near the disputed western sea border with North Korea – the scene of naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002 – to bolster defenses there. * Compiled by Shin David Park U.S.-Korea Relations 41 April 2009 Feb. 2, 2009: The U.S. government imposes two-year sanctions on three North Korean firms for their involvement in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Feb. 3, 2009: President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak have a telephone conversation and exchange ideas on pending issues, including North Korea’s nuclear problems and global recession. Obama emphasizes that solving North Korea’s nuclear problem through the Six-Party Talks is important. Feb. 6, 2009: Yonhap reports that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Walter Sharp proposed in a closed meeting that the Eighth U.S. Army command remain in South Korea rather than move to Hawaii as part of a U.S. global realignment plan, even after Washington hands back full control of South Korean troops to Seoul in 2012. Feb. 8, 2009: The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) urges South Korean exporters to strictly follow revised safety rules for children's products bound for the U.S. Feb. 11-15, 2009: National Security Advisor Kim Sung-hwan visits Washington for talks with counterparts from the White House, State Department, and Defense Department. Feb. 16, 2009: Former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo is appointed ROK ambassador to the U.S. Feb. 19, 2009: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Seoul as part of her first Asian tour, meeting with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan to discuss North Korea's nuclear threat and other regional security issues. Feb. 25, 2009: Gen. Sharp, USFK commander, urges South Korea to participate in a U.S. regional missile defense network to thwart the threat posed by North Korea's missile programs. Feb. 25, 2009: Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says at a daily news conference, "We feel we are well prepared to defend the South against any provocation." Feb. 26, 2009: During a news conference, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says that the U.S. will not develop ties with North Korea at the cost of relations with South Korea. Feb. 27, 2009: Gen. Howie Chandler, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, says that radar-evading bombers and fighter jets have been deployed together for the first time in Guam. March 2, 2009: Jeon Jei-guk, South Korea’s deputy defense minister for policy, meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney in Seoul for the Security Policy Initiative (SPI) meeting. March 2, 2009: A rare meeting between the Korea People’s Army and the United Nations Command is held in Panmunjom. U.S.-Korea Relations 42 April 2009 March 2, 2009: The office of the U.S. Trade Representative says the Obama administration will move quickly to address issues related to Congressional approval of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. March 3, 2009: In response to the upcoming annual U.S.-South Korea military drill, North Korean government newspaper Minju Joson says, “Our revolutionary armed forces are fully prepared with combat mobilization posture to sternly strike any provocative maneuvers by the enemies to harm the dignity and safety of our republic.” March 4, 2009: The Korean Airport Corporation (KAC) and the Eighth U.S. Army sign a memorandum of understanding that calls for annual antiterrorism drills to better handle explosive materials and to promote bilateral information and technology exchanges March 4, 2009: President Lee says, “It appears from Chairman Kim’s recent activities that there are no serious obstacles for him to continue ruling North Korea, and I think it is better to have a stabilized North Korean regime at this point in time for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.” March 5, 2009: KCNA, the official North Korean news agency, warns that “security cannot be guaranteed for South Korean civil airplanes flying through the territorial air of our side and its vicinity” while joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are under way. March 6, 2009: In response to North Korea’s warning, State Department Deputy Spokesman Gordon Duguid says, "The North Koreans should be working on their commitments to the Six-Party Talks rather than making statements that are threatening to peaceful aviation." March 7, 2009: Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, meets key South Korean policymakers including Minister of Foreign Affairs Yu Myung-ywan and Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee in an effort to restart talks over North Korea’s nuclear program. March 9, 2009: Ron Kirk, President Obama’s nominee for U.S. trade representative (USTR), says at a Senate confirmation hearing that the FTA deal with South Korea “isn't acceptable” and “not fair,” implying a renegotiation of the deal. March 9, 2009: North Korea cuts military communications lines with South Korea in protest of the annual South Korea-U.S. joint military drills. March 9-20, 2009: The annual U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle is held. According to the USFK, this year’s drill involves 26,000 troops and a nuclear-powered carrier to test the ability to quickly deploy forces in case of a North Korean invasion. March 10, 2009: A U.S. district court rules that South Korean computer memory-chip maker Hynix must pay a U.S. designer company Rambus $397 million for patent infringement. March 11, 2009: Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says the pending FTA with the U.S. would ultimately serve both countries’ interests and expresses hope for swift approval of the deal. U.S.-Korea Relations 43 April 2009 U.S.-Korea Relations 44 April 2009 March 11, 2009: Secretary Clinton urges North Korea not to launch a ballistic missile, proposing to hold talks on North Korea's missile program as well as Six-Party Talks on ending the North’s nuclear ambitions. March 13, 2009: USTR nominee Kirk says he is “generally supportive of the Korea FTA” and pledges to work closely with South Korea to address U.S. concerns over restricted shipments of U.S. beef and an imbalance in auto trade before bringing the FTA to Congress for ratification. March 15, 2009: Shin Je-yoon, deputy finance minister, says South Korea is pushing to expand the size and maturity of its $30 billion currency swap deal with the U.S. as part of efforts to better prepare for a liquidity crunch. March 17, 2009: Two U.S. journalists who work for former Vice President Al Gore’s online news outlet are detained by North Korean guards near the border between China and North Korea. Gore asks Secretary Clinton for help, and according to a senior administration official, “She is very engaged and is following it closely.” March 17, 2009: North Korea refuses to accept further humanitarian food aid from the U.S. March 19, 2009: Gen. Sharp, commander of USFK, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that “It is both prudent and the ROK’s sovereign obligation to assume primary responsibility for the lead role in its own defense.” March 19, 2009: Yonhap reports that the U.S. and South Korea have reached an agreement on improving ways to share the burden for cleaning up U.S. military bases in Seoul that were returned to South Korean authorities. March 24, 2009: A North Korean Foreign Ministry official warns that if the U.S. pushes for U.N. sanctions in response to its planned rocket launch, it would quit the already stalled Six-Party Talks and restart a nuclear plant making weapons-grade plutonium. March 25, 2009: Hillary Clinton warns that a missile launch would deal a blow to the Six-Party Talks and would bring “consequences.” March 27, 2009: North Korea places a long-range missile on a launch pad as it prepares for what it claims is a satellite launch in early April. March 28, 2009: Two U.S. Aegis radar-equipped destroyers dock in Busan. Rear Adm. Chae Hong-pil of the South Korean Navy says that the U.S. vessels would move into the sea between Japan and Korea to monitor the North Korean missile launch. March 29, 2009: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates says that the U.S. has no plans for military action to pre-empt the launching of a long-range missile by North Korea and would act only if the missile or its parts appeared to be headed toward U.S. territory. President Lee says he also opposes any military response to North Korea’s impending rocket launch.