U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: South Korea, April 1998
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Official Name: Republic of Korea



Area: 98,500 sq. km. (38,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Indiana.
Cities: Capital--Seoul (10.9 million). Other major cities--Pusan (3.8 
million), Taegu (2.4 million), Inchon (2.3 million), Kwanju (1.3 
million), Taejon (1.3 million).
Terrain: Partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow 
valleys; cultivated plains along the coasts, particularly in the west 
and south.
Climate: Temperate.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Korean(s).
Population (1996): 46 million.
Annual growth rate (1997): 1.02%.
Ethnic groups: Korean; small Chinese minority.
Religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Shamanism, Confucianism, Chondogyo.
Language: Korean.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Enrollment--11.5 million.
Attendance--middle school 99%, high school 95%. Literacy--98%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--22/1,000. Life expectancy--men 68 yrs., 
women 75 yrs.
Work force: 21.5 million. Services--61%. Mining and manufacturing--24%. 


Type: Republic with powers shared between the president and the 
Liberation: August 15, 1945.
Constitution: July 17, 1948; last revised 1987.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state).
Legislative--unicameral National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme Court and 
appellate courts; Constitutional Court.
Subdivisions: 9 provinces, 6 administratively separate cities (Seoul, 
Pusan, Inchon, Taegu, Kwangju, Taejon).
Political parties: National Congress for New Politics (NCNP); Grand 
National Party (GNP); United Liberal Democrats (ULD); New Party of the 
People (NPP); Democratic Party (DP).
Suffrage: Universal at 20.
Central government budget (1996): Expenditures--$101 billion (including 
$20 billion in capital expenditures).
Defense (1996): $17 billion, about 3.3% of nominal GDP and 23.3% of 
government budget (prior to capital expenditures); about 650,000 troops.


Nominal GDP (1997 est.): $475 billion.
GDP growth rate (1997 est.): 5.9%.
Per capita GNP (1997): $10,530.
Consumer price index (1997 avg. increase): 4.5%.
Natural resources: Limited coal, tungsten, iron ore, limestone, 
kaolinite, and graphite.
Agriculture (including forestry and fisheries): Products--rice, 
vegetables, fruit. Arable land--22% of land area.
Mining and manufacturing: Textiles, footwear, electronics and electrical 
equipment, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, petrochemicals, industrial 
Trade: Exports--(1996) $129.8 billion: manufactures, textiles, ships, 
automobiles, steel, computers, footwear. Major markets--U.S., Japan, 
ASEAN, European Union. Imports--(1997) $144.6 billion: crude oil, food, 
machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals and chemical products, 
base metals and articles. Major suppliers--Japan, U.S., European Union, 
Middle East.
Exchange rate (April 1998): approx. 1400 won = U.S. $1.
Fiscal year: Calendar year.


The origins of the Korean people are obscure. Korea was first populated 
by a people or peoples who migrated to the peninsula from the 
northwestern regions of Asia, some of whom also settled parts of 
northeast China (Manchuria). Koreans are racially and linguistically 
homogeneous, with no sizable indigenous minorities, except for some 
Chinese (approximately 20,000).

South Korea's major population centers are in the northwest area of 
Seoul--Inchon and in the fertile southern plain. The mountainous central 
and eastern areas are sparsely inhabited. The Japanese colonial 
administration of 1910-45 concentrated its industrial development 
efforts in the comparatively under-populated and resource-rich north, 
resulting in a considerable migration of people to the north from the 
southern agrarian provinces. This trend was reversed after World War II 
as Koreans returned to the south from Japan and Manchuria. In addition, 
more than 2 million Koreans moved to the south from the north following 
the division of the peninsula into U.S. and Soviet military zones of 
administration in 1945. This migration continued after the Republic of 
Korea was established in 1948 and during the Korean war (1950-53). About 
10% of the people now in the Republic of Korea are of northern origin. 
With 46 million people, South Korea has one of the world's highest 
population densities--much higher, for example, than India or Japan--
while the territorially larger North Korea has only about 22 million 
people. Ethnic Koreans now residing in other countries live mostly in 
China (1.9 million), the United States (1.52 million), Japan (681,000), 
and the countries of the former Soviet Union (450,000).


Korean shares several grammatical features with Japanese, but is not 
linguistically related. Strong similarities with Mongolian exist, but 
the exact relationship between the two languages is unclear. Although 
regional dialects exist, the language spoken throughout the peninsula 
and in China is comprehensible by all Koreans. Chinese characters were 
used to write Korean before the Korean Hangul alphabet was invented in 
the 15th century. Chinese characters are still in limited use in South 
Korea, but the North uses Hangul exclusively. Many older people retain 
some knowledge of Japanese from the colonial period, and many educated 
South Koreans can speak and/or read English, which is taught in all 
secondary schools.


Korea's traditional religions are Buddhism and Shamanism. Buddhism has 
lost some influence over the years, but is still followed by about 27% 
of the population. Shamanism--traditional spirit worship--is still 
practiced. Confucianism remains a dominant cultural influence. Since the 
Japanese occupation, it has existed more as a shared base than as a 
separate philosophical/religious school. Some sources place the number 
of adherents of Chondogyo--a native religion founded in the mid-19th 
century that fuses elements of Confucianism and Christianity--at more 
than 1 million.

Christian missionaries arrived in Korea as early as the 16th century, 
but it was not until the 19th century that they founded schools, 
hospitals, and other modern institutions throughout the country. 
Christianity is now one of Korea's largest religions. In 1993, nearly 
10.5 million Koreans, or 24% of the population, were Christians (about 
76% of them Protestant)--the largest figure for any East Asian country 
except the Philippines.


According to Korean legend, the god-king Tangun founded the Korean 
nation in BC 2333. By the first century AD, the Korean Peninsula was 
divided into the kingdoms of Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche. The Silla 
kingdom unified the peninsula in 668 AD. The Koryo dynasty (from which 
the Western name "Korea" is derived) succeeded the Silla kingdom in 935. 
The Choson dynasty, ruled by members of the Yi clan, supplanted Koryo in 
1392 and lasted until the Japanese annexed Korea in 1910.

Throughout most of its history, Korea has been invaded, influenced, and 
fought over by its larger neighbors. It has suffered approximately 900 
invasions during its 2,000 years of recorded history. Korea was under 
Mongolian occupation from 1231 until the early 14th century and was 
repeatedly ravaged by Chinese (government and rebel) armies. The 
Japanese warlord Hideyoshi launched major invasions in 1592 and 1597.

China had by far the greatest influence of the major powers and was the 
most acceptable to the Koreans. The Choson Dynasty was part of the 
Chinese "tribute" system, under which Korea was independent in fact, but 
acknowledged China's theoretical role as "big brother." China was the 
only exception to Korea's long closed-door policy, adopted to ward off 
foreign encroachment, which earned it the name of "Hermit Kingdom" in 
the 19th century.

Korea's isolation finally ended when the major Western powers and Japan 
sent warships to forcibly open the country. At the same time, Japanese, 
Chinese, and Russian competition in Northeast Asia led to armed conflict 
and foreign intervention in Korea's domestic and foreign policy. Japan 
defeated its two competitors and established dominance in Korea, 
formally annexing it in 1910.

The Japanese colonial era was characterized by tight control from Tokyo 
and ruthless efforts to supplant Korean language and culture. Organized 
Korean resistance, notably the 1919 Independence Movement, was 
unsuccessful and Japan remained firmly in control until the end of World 
War II.

Near the end of the war, the April 1945 Yalta Conference agreed to 
establish a four-power trusteeship for Korea. The trusteeship of the 
U.S., U.K., Soviet Union, and China was intended as a temporary 
administrative measure pending democratic elections for a Korean 
government. With the unexpected early surrender of Japan in September 
1945, the United States proposed--and the Soviet Union agreed--that 
Japanese troops surrender to U.S. forces below the 38th parallel and to 
Soviet forces above.

At a December 1945 foreign ministers' conference in Moscow, it was 
proposed that a 5-year trusteeship be established in Korea. The Moscow 
conference generated a firestorm of protest in the South. Some if its 
most critical opponents were Korean leaders associated with the 
provisional government established in Shanghai in 1919 by Korean 
nationalists living abroad. Most notable among them was nationalist 
leader Syngman Rhee.

The joint Soviet-American commission provided for by the Moscow 
Conference met intermittently in Seoul but became deadlocked over the 
issue of free consultations with representatives of all Korean political 
groups for establishment of a national government. The U.S. submitted 
the Korean question to the UN General Assembly for resolution in 
September 1947. In November, the General Assembly ruled that UN-
supervised elections should be held.

The Soviet Union and Korean authorities in the North ignored the UN 
General Assembly resolution on elections. Nonetheless, elections were 
carried out under UN observation in the South, and on August 15, 1948, 
the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established. Syngman Rhee became the 
Republic of Korea's first president. On September 9, 1948, the 
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) was established in the 
North under Kim Il Sung. Both administrations claimed to be the only 
legitimate government on the peninsula.

Armed uprisings in the South and clashes between Southern and Northern 
forces along the 38th parallel began and intensified during 1948-50. 
Although it continued to provide modest military aid to the South, the 
U.S. withdrew its occupation forces by June 1949, leaving behind only a 
military advisory group of 500.

Korean War of 1950-53

On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. The UN, in 
accord with its Charter, engaged in its first collective action by 
establishing the UN Command (UNC), under which 16 member nations sent 
troops and assistance to South Korea. At the request of the UN Security 
Council, the United States, contributor of the largest contingent, led 
this international effort.

After initially falling back to the southeastern Pusan perimeter, UN 
forces conducted a successful surprise landing at Inchon and rapidly 
advanced up the peninsula. As the main UN force approached the northern 
Yalu River, however, large numbers of "Chinese People's Volunteers" 
intervened, forcing UN troops to withdraw south of Seoul. The battle 
line seesawed back and forth until the late spring of 1951, when a 
successful offensive by UN forces was halted to enhance cease-fire 
negotiation prospects. The battle line thereafter stabilized north of 
Seoul near the 38th parallel.

Although armistice negotiations began in July 1951, hostilities 
continued until 1953 with heavy losses on both sides. On July 27, 1953 
the military commanders of the North Korean Army, the Chinese People's 
Volunteers, and the UNC signed an armistice agreement at Panmunjom. 
Neither the United States nor South Korea is a signatory of the 
armistice per se, though both adhere to it through the UNC. No 
comprehensive peace agreement has replaced the 1953 armistice pact; 
thus, a condition of belligerency still technically exists on the 
divided peninsula.

The Military Armistice Commission (MAC) was created in 1953 to oversee 
and enforce the terms of the armistice. The Neutral Nation Supervisory 
Committee (NNSC)--originally made up of delegations from Poland and 
Czechoslovakia on the D.P.R.K. side and Sweden and Switzerland on the UN 
side--monitors the activities of the MAC. In recent years, North Korea 
has sought to undermine the MAC by various means. In April 1994 it 
declared the MAC void and withdrew its representatives. Prior to this it 
had forced the Czechs out of the NNSC by refusing to accept the Czech 
Republic as the successor state of Czechoslovakia, an original member of 
the NNSC. In September 1994 China recalled the Chinese People's 
Volunteers representatives to the MAC, and in early 1995 North Korea 
forced Poland to remove its representatives to the NNSC from the North 
Korean side of the DMZ.


Syngman Rhee served as president of the Republic of Korea until April 
1960, when unrest led by university students forced him to step down. 
Though the constitution was amended and national elections were held in 
June, Maj. Gen. Park Chung Hee led an army coup against the successor 
government and assumed power in May 1961. After 2 years of military 
government under Park, civilian rule was restored in 1963. Park, who had 
retired from the army, was elected president and was reelected in 1967, 
1971, and 1978 in highly controversial elections.

The Park era, marked by rapid industrial modernization and extraordinary 
economic growth, ended with his assassination in October 1979. Prime 
Minister Choi Kyu Ha briefly assumed office, promising a new 
constitution and presidential elections. However, in December 1979 Maj. 
Gen. Chun Doo Hwan and close military colleagues staged a coup, removing 
the army chief of staff and soon effectively controlling the government. 
University student-led demonstrations against Chun's government spread 
in the spring of 1980 until the government declared martial law, banning 
all demonstrations, and arresting many political leaders and dissidents. 
Special forces units in the city of Kwangju dealt particularly harshly 
with demonstrators and residents, setting off a chain of events which 
left at least 200 civilians dead. This became a critically important 
event in contemporary South Korean political history. Chun, by then 
retired from the army, officially became President in September 1980. 
Though martial law ended in January 1981, his government retained broad 
legal powers to control dissent. Nevertheless, an active and articulate 
minority of students, intellectuals, clergy, and others remained 
critical of the Chun government and demonstrated against it.

In April 1986 the President appeared to yield to demands for reform--
particularly for a constitutional amendment allowing direct election of 
his successor. However, in June 1987 Chun suspended all discussion of 
constitutional revision, and the ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP) 
approved Chun's hand-picked successor, Roh Tae Woo. In response, first 
students and then the general public took to the streets in protest. 
Then in a surprise move, on June 29, ruling party presidential candidate 
Roh Tae Woo announced the implementation of democratic reforms. The 
constitution was revised in October to include direct presidential 
elections and a strengthened National Assembly consisting of 299 

The main opposition forces soon split into two parties--Kim Dae-jung's 
Peace and Democracy Party (PPD) and Kim Young Sam's Reunification 
Democratic Party (RDP). With the opposition vote split, Roh Tae Woo 
subsequently won the December 1987 presidential election--the first 
direct one since 1971--with 37% of the vote.

The new constitution entered into force in February 1988 when President 
Roh assumed office. Elections for the National Assembly were held on 
April 26. President Roh's ruling Democratic Justice Party was then able 
to win only 34% of the vote in the April 1988 National Assembly 
elections--the first time the ruling party had lost control of the 
Assembly since 1952.

South Korean politics thus were changed dramatically by the 1988 
legislative elections, the Assembly's greater powers under the 1987 
constitution, and the influence of public opinion. After 1987 there was 
significant political liberalization, including greater freedom of the 
press, greater freedoms of expression and assembly, and the restoration 
of the civil rights of former detainees. The new opposition-dominated 
National Assembly quickly challenged the president's prerogatives.

The trend toward greater democratization continued. In free and fair 
elections in December 1992, Kim Young Sam, the former opposition leader 
who joined the ruling party of Roh Tae Woo, received 43% of the vote and 
became Korea's first civilian president in nearly 30 years. In June 
1995, Korea held direct elections for local and provincial executive 
officials (mayors, governors, county and ward chiefs) for the first time 
in more than 30 years. In August 1996, ex-Presidents Chun and Roh were 
convicted on corruption and treason charges but were pardoned by 
President Kim Young Sam in December 1997.

Kim Dae-jung of the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) won the 
December 1997 presidential election, defeating Lee Hoi Chang of the 
renamed ruling party, the Grand National Party (GNP), and the New Party 
for the People (NPP) candidate Rhee In Je. Kim's 1997 win was the first 
true opposition party victory in a Korean presidential election.

Principal Government Officials (December 1997)

President--Kim Dae-jung
Prime Minister-designate--Kim Chong-p'il
Minister of Unification-designate--Kang In-tok
Finance and Economy Minister-designate--Yi Kyu-song
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade-designate--Pak Chong-su
Minister of National Defense--Chon Yong-t'aek
Minister of Justice-designate--Pak Sang-ch'on
Minister of Education-designate--Yi Hae-ch'an
Minister of Culture and Tourism-designate--Sin Nak-kyun
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry-designate--Kim Song-hun
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy-designate--Pak Tae-yong
Minister of Information and Communication-designate--Pae Sun-hun
Minister of Environment-designate--Ch'oe Chae-uk
Minister of Construction and Transportation-designate--Yi Chong-mu

Korea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2450 Massachusetts 
Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-5600).


Over the past 30 years, the Republic of Korea's economic growth has been 
spectacular. Despite the need to maintain a large military, South Korea, 
one of the world's poorest countries only a generation ago, is now the 
United States' seventh-largest trading partner and, until the economic 
crisis of late 1997, was ranked as the 11th-largest economy in the 

The division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945 created two unbalanced 
economic units. North Korea inherited most of the peninsula's mineral 
and hydroelectric resources and most of the heavy industrial base built 
by the Japanese. South Korea was left with a large, unskilled labor pool 
and most of the peninsula's limited agricultural resources. Both North 
and South suffered massive destruction in the Korean war, but an influx 
of refugees added to the South's economic woes.

South Korea began the postwar period with a per capita gross national 
product (GNP) far below that of the North. It received large amounts of 
U.S. foreign assistance for many years, although all direct aid from the 
United States ended in 1980.

South Korea's meager mineral resources include tungsten, anthracite 
coal, iron ore, limestone, kaolinite, and graphite. There is no oil, and 
energy is a continuing concern for the R.O.K.'s economic planners. An 
ambitious program to develop nuclear power is well underway; Korea 
currently has 12 nuclear plants in operation, with four others under 

The nation's successful industrial growth program began in the early 
1960s, when the Park government instituted sweeping economic reforms 
emphasizing exports and labor-intensive light industries. The government 
also carried out a currency reform, strengthened financial institutions, 
and introduced flexible economic planning. In the 1970s Korea began 
directing fiscal and financial policies toward promoting heavy and 
chemical industries, as well as consumer electronics and automobiles.

From 1963 to 1978, real GNP rose at an annual rate of nearly 10%, with 
average real growth of more than 11% for the years 1973-78. While 
Korea's economic growth continued at a rapid pace throughout the 1960s 
and 1970s, the annual population growth rate declined to slightly below 
1%, resulting in a 20-fold increase in per capita GNP. Per capita GNP, 
which only reached $100 for the first time in 1963, exceeded $10,000 in 
1997, or 10 times that of North Korea.

Strong economic growth has largely continued since 1978. Korea's global 
trade and current account surpluses and its bilateral surplus with the 
U.S. have declined since 1989, which yielded a trade deficit with the 
U.S. for the first time in 1994. At the beginning of this decade, 
government stabilization policies clamped down on construction, private 
consumption, and investment. Consequently, real GNP growth slowed to 
approximately 5% in 1992. Increases in private consumption and 
investment spending, particularly by the large conglomerates, or 
chaebol, drove a new period of expansion which peaked in 1995 when 
annual GDP growth reached 9%.

Following the R.O.K.'s 1988 decision to allow trade with the D.P.R.K., 
South Korean firms began to import North Korean goods, all via third-
country contracts. The D.P.R.K. does not acknowledge this trade. 
Nevertheless, the North publicized a late January 1989 visit by Hyundai 
Corporation founder Chung Ju Yong, as well as a private protocol he 
signed to develop tourism and other projects in the North. Trade between 
the two Koreas increased 16-fold from $18.8 million in 1989 to $310 
million in 1995. During this period of greater economic cooperation, 
Daewoo chairman Kim Woo Choong visited the North and reached an 
agreement to build a light industrial complex at Nampo. The 
establishment of road and rail links has been addressed in other 
discussions. The first contract directly negotiated by businesspeople of 
both sides was signed in the spring of 1993. While inter-Korean trade 
has remained substantial, military tensions and economic problems in 
North Korea have contributed to a slowdown. In 1996 inter-Korean trade 
measured approximately $250 million.

In December 1997 the R.O.K. entered a severe financial crisis as foreign 
exchange reserves became inadequate for meeting short-term obligations 
and numerous private-sector conglomerates faced the possibility of 
bankruptcy. As of late April 1998, an international assistance effort 
led by the IMF to shore up Korea's reserves and launch structural 
economic reform has stabilized the economic situation.


In August 1991, South Korea joined the United Nations along with North 
Korea, and since then has been active in most UN specialized agencies 
and many international fora. The Republic of Korea has also hosted major 
international events such as the 1988 Summer Olympics and has been 
chosen to co-host the 2002 World Cup (with Japan). South Korea became a 
member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 
(OECD) in 1996 and completed a term as a non-permanent member on the UN 
Security Council at the end of 1997.

South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with more than 170 countries 
and a broad network of trading relationships. Former President Roh's 
policy of Nordpolitik--the pursuit of wide-ranging relations with 
socialist nations and contact with North Korea--has been a remarkable 
success. The R.O.K. now has diplomatic ties with all the countries of 
Eastern and Central Europe, as well as the former Soviet republics. The 
R.O.K. and the People's Republic of China established full diplomatic 
relations in August 1992.

Since normalizing relations in 1965, Japan and Korea have developed an 
extensive relationship centering on mutually beneficial economic 
activity. Although historic antipathies have at times impeded 
cooperation, relations at the government level have improved steadily 
and significantly in the past several years. In 1994 Korea, Japan, and 
the U.S. consulted very closely during U.S.-D.P.R.K. negotiations over 
the North Korean nuclear issue.

Economic considerations have a high priority in Korean foreign policy. 
The R.O.K. seeks to build on its economic accomplishments to increase 
its regional and global role, including playing an increasingly 
important part in Pacific Rim political and economic activities. It is a 
founding member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Korean Peninsula: Reunification Efforts Since 1971

Though both Korean governments have repeatedly affirmed their desire for 
reunification of the Korean Peninsula, the two had no official 
communication or other contact until 1971. At that time they agreed to 
hold talks through their respective Red Cross societies with the aim of 
reuniting the many Korean families separated following the division of 
Korea and the Korean war. After a series of secret meetings, both sides 
announced a 1972 agreement to work toward peaceful reunification and an 
end to the hostile atmosphere prevailing on the peninsula. These initial 
contacts ended in August 1973 following President Park's announcement 
that the South would seek separate entry into the United Nations, and 
the kidnaping of South Korean opposition leader Kim Dae-jung from Tokyo 
by the South Korean intelligence service. The breakdown reflected basic 
differences in approach, with Pyongyang insisting on immediate steps 
toward reunification before discussing specific issues and Seoul 
maintaining that, given the long history of mutual distrust, 
reunification must come through a gradual, step-by-step process.

Tension between North and South Korea increased dramatically in the 
aftermath of the 1983 North Korean assassination attempt on President 
Chun in Burma, which killed six members of the R.O.K. cabinet. South 
Korea's suspicions of the North's motives were not diminished when 
Pyongyang accepted an earlier U.S.-R.O.K. proposal for tripartite talks 
on the future of the Korean Peninsula, in which "South Korean 
authorities" would be permitted to participate. North Korea's provision 
of relief goods to victims of severe flooding in South Korea in 
September 1984 led to revived dialogue on several fronts: Red Cross 
talks to address the plight of separated families, economic and trade 
talks, and parliamentary talks. However, in January 1986, the North 
suspended all talks, arguing that annual R.O.K.-U.S. military exercises 
were inconsistent with dialogue. The North resumed its own large-scale 
exercises in 1987.

In July 1988, South Korean President Roh Tae Woo called for new efforts 
to promote exchanges, family reunification, inter-Korean trade, and 
contact in international fora. President Roh called on Korea's friends 
and allies to pursue contacts with the North and said that the South 
intended to seek better relations with the U.S.S.R. and China. The two 
sides then met several times at Panmunjom in an unsuccessful attempt to 
arrange a joint meeting of the two Korean parliaments. Meetings to 
discuss arrangements for prime ministerial-level talks led to a series 
of such meetings starting in 1990. In late 1991 the two sides signed the 
Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Exchanges and Cooperation 
and the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean 
Peninsula. Nevertheless, there was little progress toward the 
establishment of a bilateral nuclear inspection regime, and dialogue 
between the South and North stalled in the fall of 1992.

In 1992 the North agreed to accept International Atomic Energy Agency 
(IAEA) safeguards as well as a series of IAEA inspections of North 
Korea's nuclear facilities. In practice though, the North refused to 
allow special inspections of two areas suspected of holding nuclear 
waste, and threatened to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation 
Treaty (NPT)--bringing North-South progress to an abrupt halt in the 
process. After a period of high tension brought on by failure to resolve 
the nuclear issue, as well as UN Security Council discussion of 
sanctions against the D.P.R.K., former President Carter's visit to 
Pyongyang in June 1994 helped to defuse tensions and resulted in renewed 
South-North talks.

The sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung on July 8, 1994 
halted plans for a first ever South-North presidential summit and led to 
another period of inter-Korean animosity.

U.S.-D.P.R.K. bilateral talks, which began in the spring of 1993, 
finally resulted in a framework agreement signed by representatives of 
both nations in Geneva on October 21, 1994. This Agreed Framework 
committed North Korea to freeze its graphite-moderated reactors and 
related facilities which could be used to produce plutonium for nuclear 
weapons development. In addition, under the Agreed Framework, North 
Korea agreed to hold expert talks with the U.S. to decide on specific 
arrangements for the storage of the D.P.R.K.'s spent nuclear fuel rods 
(which otherwise could be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium). In 
return, the D.P.R.K. was to receive alternative energy, initially in the 
form of heavy oil, and eventually two proliferation-resistant light 
water reactors (LWR).

The 1994 agreement also included gradual improvement of relations 
between the U.S. and the D.P.R.K., and committed North Korea to engage 
in South-North dialogue. A few weeks after the signing of the Agreed 
Framework, President Kim Young Sam loosened restrictions on South Korean 
firms wanting to pursue business opportunities with the North. Although 
North Korea continued to refuse official overtures by the South, 
economic contacts appeared to expand gradually. In 1998, President Kim 
Dae-jung declared that restraints on investment and communication with 
North Korea by private entities would be significantly eased.

In recent years, several milestones have been reached regarding the 
implementation of the Agreed Framework. On March 9, 1995, the 
Governments of the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan agreed to 
establish the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, commonly 
referred to as KEDO. KEDO's task is to implement the LWR and heavy fuel 
oil (HFO) commitments of the Agreed Framework. Since its inception, 
eight other countries have joined KEDO, making the organization truly 
international. On December 15, 1995, KEDO concluded a Supply Agreement 
with the D.P.R.K. concerning the details of implementing the LWR 
project. Six protocols to the Supply Agreement have already been 
concluded over the past 2 years. Groundbreaking on the LWR project took 
place on August 19, 1997. The 15-member European Union joined KEDO and 
become an executive board member on September 19, 1997. The safe storage 
of North Korea's spent nuclear fuel rods was essentially completed by 
the U.S. Department of Energy at the end of October 1997. The freeze on 
North Korea's graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities has now 
been in effect since November 1994.

On April 16, 1996, Presidents Clinton and Kim invited the D.P.R.K. and 
the People's Republic of China to participate in Four-Party peace talks 
with the U.S. and R.O.K. on the future of the Korean Peninsula. 
Following six preparatory meetings, the first Four-Party plenary session 
took place in Geneva in December 1997 and the second in March 1998.


The United States believes that the question of peace and security on 
the Korean Peninsula is, first and foremost, a matter for the Korean 
people to decide. The U.S. is prepared to assist in this process if the 
two sides so desire.

In the 1954 U.S.-R.O.K. Mutual Defense Treaty, the United States agreed 
to help the Republic of Korea defend itself against external aggression. 
In support of this commitment, the United States currently maintains 
approximately 37,000 service personnel in Korea, including the Army's 
Second Infantry Division and several Air Force tactical squadrons. To 
coordinate operations between these units and the 650,000-strong Korean 
armed forces, a Combined Forces Command (CFC) was established in 1978. 
The head of the CFC also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the United 
Nations Command (UNC) and the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK).

Several aspects of the security relationship are changing as the U.S. 
moves from a leading to a supporting role. South Korea has agreed to pay 
a larger portion of USFK's stationing costs, and to promote changes in 
the CFC command structure. On December 1, 1994, peacetime operational 
control authority over all South Korean military units still under U.S. 
operational control was transferred to the South Korean Armed Forces.

As Korea's economy has developed, trade has become an increasingly 
important aspect of the U.S.-Korea relationship. The U.S. seeks to 
improve access to Korea's expanding market and increase investment 
opportunities for American business. The implementation of structural 
reforms contained in the IMF's 1998 program for Korea should improve 
access to the Korean market. Korean leaders appear determined to 
successfully manage the complex economic relationship with the United 
States and to take a more active role in international economic fora as 
befits Korea's status as a major trading nation.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Stephen W. Bosworth
Commander in Chief, UNC--Gen. John Tilelli
Deputy Chief of Mission--Richard A. Christenson
Counselor for Political Affairs--James Whitlock
Counselor for Economic Affairs--Ben Fairfax
Counselor for Administrative Affairs--Catherine M. Smith
Counselor for Public Affairs--Jeremy Curtin
Consul General--Kathryn Dee Robinson
Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Jerry K. Mitchell
Counselor for Agricultural Affairs--William Brant
Chief, Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group, Korea (JUSMAG-K)--Col. Thomas 
Defense Attache--Col. Robert Elliott, U.S. Army

The U.S. embassy is located at 82 Sejong-Ro, Chongro-Ku, Seoul; Unit 
15550, APO AP 96205-0001; tel. 82-2-397-4114; fax 82-2-738-8845. The 
U.S. Agricultural Trade Office is located at 146-1, Susong-dong, 
Chongro-Ku, Leema Bldg., Rm. 303, Seoul 110-140; fax 82-2-720-7921. The 
U.S. Export Development Office/U.S. Trade Center is c/o U.S. Embassy; 
fax 82-2-739-1628. Its director is Camille Sailer.


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: 
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). 
To access CABB, dial the modem number: 301-946-4400 (it will accommodate 
up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1(no 
parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login 
is travel and the password is info. (Note: Lower case is required). The 
CABB also carries international security information from the Overseas 
Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic 
Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication series, which 
contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip 
abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. 
Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; 
telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication).

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas 
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country 
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). 
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.

Further Electronic Information

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual basis by 
the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is 
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the 
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.


The following general country guides are available from the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402:

Library of Congress. North Korea: A Country Study. 1994.

Department of State. The Record on Korean Unification 1943-1960. 1961.

Department of the Army. Communist North Korea: A Bibliographic Survey. 

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the 
material published on this country. The Department of State does not 
endorse unofficial publications.

Eckert, Carter, Ki-Baik Lee, Young Ick Lew, Michael Robinson, and Edward 
W. Wagner. Korea Old and New: A History. Seoul: Ilchokak Publishers for 
Harvard University Press, 1990.

Gonchanov, Sergei N., John W. Lewis, and Zye Litai. Uncertain Partners: 
Stalin, Mao and the Korean War. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 

Han, Woo-kuen. The History of Korea. Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 

Henriksen, Thomas and Mo, Jong-Ryn, Eds. North Korea After Kim Il Sung: 
Continuity or Change? Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1997.

Henthorn, William. History of Korea. New York: The Free Press, 1971.

Kim, Dae-Jung. Three-Stage Approach to Korean Reunification: Focusing on 
the South-North Co-federal State. Los Angeles: University of California 
Press, 1997.

Lee, Ki-Baik. A New History of Korea. Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1984.

MacDonald, Donald S. The Koreans: Contemporary Politics and Society. 
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1988.

Merrill, John. Korea: The Peninsular Origins of the War. Newark: 
University of Delaware Press, 1988.

Nahm, Andrew C. North Korea: Her Past, Reality, and Impression. 
Kalamazoo: Center for Korean Studies, Western Michigan University, 1978.

Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Reading, MA: 
Addison Wesley Longman, 1997.

Palais, James B. Politics and Policy in Traditional Korea. Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1976.

Ridgeway, Matthew B. Korean War. New York: Doubleday, 1964.

Sigal, Leon V. Disarming Strangers Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. 
Princeton University Press, 1998

Internet Resources on North and South Korea

The following sites are provided to give an indication of Internet sites 
on Korea. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial 
publications, including Internet sites.

-- R.O.K. Embassy page is at http://korea.emb.washington.dc.us.
-- Korea Society page is at http://www.koreasociety.org and links to 
academic and other sites.
-- Nautilus Institute page is at http://www.nautilus.org; this is 
produced by the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, California and includes 
press round-up Monday through Friday.
-- Korea Web Weekly page is at http://www.kimsoft.com/korea.htm and 
links to North Korean sites.
-- Korea Herald page is at http://www.koreaherald.co.kr; this is a South 
Korean English-language newspaper.
-- Korea Times page is at http://www.korealink.co.kr/times/times.htm; 
this is a South Korean English-language newspaper.
-- (North) Korean Central News Agency page is at http://www.kcna.co.jp.
-- Korean Politics page is at http://www.koreanpolitics.com; this 
provides information on South Korean politics and links to South Korean 
government sites.

NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement 
of contents.

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