The Republic of Korea-U.S. relations began with the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Joseon Dynasty and the U.S. in 1882. Although the bilateral relations were put on hold during Japanese Imperial rule of Korea, the two countries resumed their relationship when Japanese rule ended in 1945 upon Japan’s defeat in the World War.
Since then, the ROK-U.S. relations have steadily deepened and strengthened. After the Korean War (1950–1953), the ROK and the U.S. signed the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953, which is called “the relationship forged in the blood”. The ROK -U.S. alliance still stands as the main pillar of peace and security for the Korean Peninsula.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the ROK achieved rapid economic growth with U.S. assistance and development aid. As the Korean economy developed, however, the ROK and the U.S.advanced their relationship into a more reciprocal partnership.
Building on their allied partnership, the ROK and the U.S. have expanded the scope and depth of cooperation. In 2007, the ROK and the U.S. signed a Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), which would eliminate virtually all barriers to trade and investment between the two countries. The KORUS FTA has not only greatly contributed to expanding bilateral trade and improving market access but also served as a basic framework for economic cooperation.
In addition, the two countries fleshed out the Joint Vision for the Alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States of America in 2009. Through the Joint Vision, the two countries aimed at upgrading the Korea-U.S. relations to a comprehensive strategic alliance of bilateral, regional, and global scope.
In 2013, when President Park Geun-hye and President Barack Obama held summit in Washington D.C., two sides adopted the "Joint Declaration in Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Alliance between the ROK and the U.S." which presented a blueprint for the future of the ROK-U.S. alliance.
In 2017, President Moon Jae-in met with President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. and exchanged views on the way forward to advance the comprehensive strategic alliance between two countries, which was presented in " Joint Statement between the United States and the Republic of Korea".
The ROK-U.S. Alliance has served as the linchpin of peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula and the region for almost 70 years. In May 2022, President Yoon Suk Yeol and President Biden met in Seoul less than two weeks into President Yoon’s administration and agreed to develop the partnership into a Global Comprehensive Strategic Alliance that jointly addresses the challenges of the 21st century based on shared core values like freedom and democracy.
The ROK and the U.S. are also stepping up their efforts to strengthen strategic coordination on North Korea issues by addressing the North Korean Nuclear problem with utmost urgency and determination. Facing a series of nuclear tests and missile launches, two sides have worked together through channels for consultations at various levels including Summit, Ministerial Meetings, and Vice-Ministerial Talks.
The ROK and the U.S. are trying to further develop their Strategic Alliance by strengthening cooperation on a variety of issues including development assistance, anti-terrorism, nuclear security, and so forth.
The ROK-Canada Relations
The Republic of Korea and Canada have enjoyed a long and positive relationship that is marked by true friendship and sharing of important universal values. It first began with Canadian missionaries and teachers who came to Korea and made significant contributions to the development of Korean society. Later, more than 26,000 Canadian troops were deployed during the Korean War(1950-53), of which 516 lost their lives in defense of freedom and democracy in the Republic of Korea.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1963, the ROK and Canada have developed a cooperative relationship across all fields at the bilateral and multilateral levels.
In the field of economy and commerce, the ROK and Canada have developed a complementary trading system through the trade of industrial products and natural resources. As Canada is endowed with abundant energy and mineral resources, the potential of collaboration between the two countries is immeasurable since the majority of the ROK's energy resources are dependent on overseas supplies.
Over the past several years, people-to-people exchanges between the ROK and Canada have grown rapidly, with more than 440,000 people travel between Canada and Korea each year. Including the Working Holiday Program(WHP), the number of Korean students residing in Canada for a long period of time is the second largest after that of Chinese students in Canada. However, in 2020, people-to-people exchanges between the ROK and Canada were restricted due to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the two countries have been building a mutually cooperative and supportive relationship on various international stages as middle powers that share common values such as democracy, human rights, constitutionalism, and market economy.