US - Korea

Chronology from Jan 2021 to May 2021

: Washington Post reveals details of Biden administration’s completed policy review, indicating that the administration seeks to strike a balance between the Trump administration’s leader-to-leader diplomacy and the Obama presidency’s arm’s-length approach to the crisis.

: Biden says that he will work with allies to address threats from North Korea through “diplomacy” and “stern deterrence.”

: South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young says that South Korea will strive to restart the stalled peace process on the Korean Peninsula, and urges the US to engage North Korea at the earliest possible date.

: South Korean defense ministry says that it is trying to secure new “large-scale” firing ranges for the US Forces Korea (USFK) as the US military has complained about limited access to existing ones due to protests from residents.

: Chief of US Strategic Command Adm. Charles Richard says that the United States is ready and able to deter any aggression from North Korea.

: A Congressional Research Service reports says North Korea seeks to develop capabilities to degrade US missile defense systems deployed in the region.

: North Korea continues working on submersible missile test barge at its Nampo shipyard, a US think tank says, suggesting that it could be preparations for a ballistic missile test.

: President Moon urges the US to restart dialogue with North Korea at an early date during an interview with The New York Times, criticizing Donald Trump for failing to “pull it through” and reach a deal.

: South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong says that South Korea is “earnestly discussing” the COVID-19 vaccine swap deal with the United States.

: President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide commit to the complete, irreversible, and verifiable dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction in North Korea.

: South Korean Unification Ministry expresses that an upcoming summit between South Korean and US presidents will help build consensus on denuclearization, improving inter-Korean relations.

: South Korean Unification Ministry official says the upcoming US congressional hearing on South Korea’s ban on sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea will not affect South Korea-US alliance.

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry expresses “grave concerns” over Japan’s decision to release Fukushima water into the sea.

: Biden hails settlement of an electric vehicle battery dispute between LG and SK as a “win for American workers and the American auto industry.”

: White House spokeswoman Psaki says that North Korea’s difficult conditions are caused by the actions of its own leadership, arguing that no US actions or sanctions are targeted at the North Korean people.

: US House of Representatives says it will hold a public hearing on South Korea’s ban on anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea.

: White House spokeswoman Psaki says that the United States is prepared to engage in diplomacy with North Korea if it leads to denuclearization on the peninsula.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry vows efforts to resume inter-Korean talks despite North Korea’s decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

: North Korea decides that it will not participate in the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics to protect its athletes from the coronavirus pandemic.

: South Korea’s Defense Ministry rejects Japan’s renewed territorial claims over the country’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, saying Seoul does not even have to repeat explanations on the matter.

: South Korea, Japan, and the US agree on the need to quickly resume dialogue with North Korea to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue.

: State Department spokesman Ned Price says that denuclearization will be at the center of any new US policy toward North Korea.

: Korea Institute for Defense Analyses says North Korea likely to conduct more test launches of its Iskander-variant ballistic missiles to replace Scud missiles with advanced solid-fuel ones.

: US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Lisa Peterson says the US will hold North Korea accountable for its “egregious” human rights violations.

: Kim Yo Jong criticizes Moon for his speech, mocking him as a “parrot” that repeats the US’ “gangster-like logic.”

: North Korea accuses the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of violating its sovereignty and applying a “double standard” for the recent missile test.

: North Korea accuses Biden of a “provocation” for criticizing its missile launches, warning that the US will face “something not good” if such “thoughtless remarks” continue.

: Director of North Korea policy at the South Korean Defense Ministry Cho Yong-geun and US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs David Helvey express deep concerns over North Korea’s recent missile launches.

: Washington condemns North Korea’s ballistic missile launches as “destabilizing” actions violating UN Security Council resolutions.

: North Korea fires at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea, according to the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

: South Korea convenes emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting on North Korea’s latest projectile launch.

: North Korea fires two cruise missiles off the west coast, Pyongyang’s first missile test in about a year.

: 55-year-old businessman Mun Chol Myong, who faces money laundering charges, becomes the first North Korean citizen ever extradited to the United States.

: North Korean diplomats leave their embassy in Malaysia after Pyongyang said it would cut diplomatic ties with Malaysia over its citizen’s US extradition.

: Blinken says that the US and China had a candid conversation on North Korea during a ministerial meeting in Alaska.

: North Korea says that it will sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia for extraditing its businessman living in Malaysia to the United States.

: North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui says North Korea will continue to ignore any contact from the US unless the US withdraws its “hostile policies” toward North Korea.

: South Korea and the US hold “2+2” talks of their foreign and defense officials in Seoul to discuss a coordinated strategy on North Korea and efforts to reinforce the alliance.

: South Korea and the United States announce plan to launch a new working-level policy dialogue to reinforce their bilateral alliance.

: President Moon says South Korea will improve strained ties with Japan to bolster trilateral security cooperation involving the US during talks with Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin.

: Four people of Korean descent are killed in deadly shootings in Atlanta.

: Foreign workers in Seoul complain of being singled out as Seoul mandates all foreigners working at for-profit organizations be tested for coronavirus by the end of the month.

: White House spokesperson Jen Psaki says that North Korea continues to be unresponsive to US calls for dialogue.

: Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong condemns South Korea for military exercises with the United States.

: South Korea and the United States plan to initial a defense cost-sharing deal after a 2+2 meeting of their top foreign and defense officials.

: Blinken embarks on a trip to Asia to discuss major challenges in the region, including North Korea and China, with Japan and South Korea.

: Administration official says North Korea has not responded to the behind-the-scenes Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach since mid-February.

: Former US nuclear negotiator Robert Gallucci urges South Korea and the US to refrain from large-scale combined military exercises and for North Korea to avoid nuclear tests.

: Washington says it will not ease its sanctions on Iran, including Iranian funds in South Korea, until Iran returns to compliance with the JCPOA.

: US Indo-Pacific Commander Adm. Phil Davidson says that North Korea poses a serious and most imminent threat to the US and its allies in the Indo-Pacific region, including South Korea.

: Seoul’s Defense Ministry says South Korea and the United States are to stage joint outdoor drills throughout the year, not during specific periods of time.

: South Korea and the US reach a defense cost-sharing agreement in maintaining US troops on the Korean Peninsula.

: South Korea and the US kick off scaled-back combined military exercise.

: Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says the US takes its commitment to the security of South Korea very seriously, “making sure there are ready military capabilities should they be needed.”

: Secretary Austin includes North Korea on the list of threats to the US and its allies.

: State Department spokesperson says South Korea and the US are “very close” to an agreement to set Seoul’s share of the cost for US troops on the Korean Peninsula.

: Secretary Blinken lays out the “most urgent” priorities for American diplomacy, skirting the issue of how to deal with nuclear-armed North Korea.

: US Indo-Pacific Command says North Korea poses the “most immediate threat” to the United States until they agree to full denuclearization.

: South Korea’s presidential office says Moon is likely to talk with Biden in April during a global climate summit.

: Chief of the UN nuclear watchdog says North Korea has been showing signs of operating a steam plant at a plutonium reprocessing facility.

: Moon says South Korea is ready to talk with Japan anytime, stating that it would also be helpful to the trilateral partnership with the United States.

: US Defense Department spokesman says North Korea’s continued development of weapons poses a threat to the United States and its allies.

: US federal district court orders North Korea to pay over $2.3 billion in damages to the crew and family of a US naval vessel captured in 1986.

: Minister of Unification Lee urges that international sanctions on North Korea do not result in unintended negative effects on ordinary North Korean people.

: State Department spokesman says the US and South Korea may discuss Iran sanctions but that there has not yet been a release of Iranian funds held in the US.

: Minister of Unification Lee renews calls for building a joint response system with North Korea against infectious diseases.

: Minister of Unification Lee calls for efforts to restart a long-suspended project to compile a unified Korean-language dictionary project with North Korea.

: Ned Price, press spokesperson at the State Department, highlights the importance of South Korea and Japan working together, saying “any US effort to denuclearize North Korea will not be as effective without the support and close cooperation of South Korea and Japan.”

: South Korean Minister of Unification Lee In-young says that North Korea faces a food shortage of over 1.2 million to 1.3 million tons this year due to damage from heavy downpours that happened last year.

: US State Department says the North Korean nuclear issue is a top priority for the Biden administration despite the lack of direct engagement with the country.

: New ROK Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Secretary Blinken stress close cooperation for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during their first phone talks.

: Biden says the US will not hesitate to use force to protect its people and allies.

: South Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk, and a senior US diplomat agree to close consultations on North Korea policy during their phone talks.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry expresses hopes for the early resumption of the Kaesong complex as it marks the fifth anniversary of its closure.

: Acting US Ambassador to South Korea Rob Rapson highlights the strong bilateral partnership between the two countries in the first tweet he posted.

: Department of State says the US is committed to quickly reaching a “mutually acceptable” defense cost-sharing agreement with South Korea.

: National Security Adviser Sullivan says the US will closely consult with South Korea on North Korea issues.

: South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young says South Korea has been sufficiently communicating with the US on anti-leaflet law.

: President Moon pledges to upgrade the alliance with the US in a phone call with President Biden.

: Secretary Blinken says the US looks for optimal ways to advance the denuclearization process in North Korea.

: Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung sends letter to the US Congress calling for support for an ROK law enacted to ban the sending of propaganda leaflets into North Korea.

: North Korea’s Ambassador to Geneva Han Tae-song says Pyongyang is building up its war deterrent capabilities to defend itself and open a “genuine era of peace with eternally no wars.”

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry launches a task force to strengthen policy-related communication with the new Biden administration.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping expresses active support for Korean denuclearization in phone talks with Moon.

: South Korea pushes for high-level meetings with the administration of US President Joe Biden at an early date.

: South Korean Minister of Unification Lee In-young hopes for a “wise” and “flexible” solution to joint military drills with the US to prevent serious tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

: South Korea’s Defense Minister Suh Wook and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirm the importance of their alliance, promising to cooperate on improving the relationship.

: South Korea’s top national security officer Suh Hoon discusses bilateral cooperation in advancing the Korean peace process and global issues with his new US counterpart, Jake Sullivan.

: Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States, underlining the importance of its relationship with allies.

: South Korean Defense Ministry says South Korea is ready to talk about any issues with North Korea via military channels to ease tensions.

: During US Senate confirmation hearings Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken vows to improve its relationship with allies, saying Biden administration will review the entire approach to North Korea.

: North Korea holds a military parade in Pyongyang, displaying its new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

: Senior defense officials from South Korea, the US, and Japan hold phone talks to discuss North Korea’s missile launches and reaffirm the importance of trilateral security cooperation. 

: US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris announces his pending departure from his post, officially leaving the post on Jan. 20.

: Kurt Campbell, former state department official for Asia during the Obama administration, is appointed Joe Biden’s “Asia czar”—coordinator for the administration’s overall Indo-Pacific policy.

: North Korea revises party rules at the 8th Party Congress in Pyongyang to clarify its aim to strengthen national defense capabilities.

: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approves creation of a new cyber-security and emerging technologies bureau to fight cyber-security threats, citing threats from North Korea.

: Spokesman for the South Korean Foreign Ministry congratulates US President-elect Joe Biden after the Congress’s certification of election victory.

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