North Korea–United States relations

North Korea–United States relations
Map indicating locations of North Korea and United States

North Korea

United States
Emblem of North Korea.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea

The political and diplomatic relations between North Korea and the United States have been historically hostile, developing primarily during the Korean War. In recent years relations have been largely defined by North Korea's nuclear program – six tests of nuclear weapons, its development of long-range missiles capable of striking targets thousands of miles away, and its ongoing threats to strike the United States[1] and South Korea with nuclear weapons and conventional forces. During his presidency, George W. Bush referred to North Korea as part of "the Axis of Evil" because of the threat of its nuclear capabilities.[2][3]

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (left) and U.S. President Donald Trump (right), June 2018.

As North Korea and the United States of America have started some formal diplomacy after the Trump-Kim Summit. Sweden acts as the protecting power of United States interests in North Korea[4][5] for consular matters. Since the Korean War, the United States has maintained a strong military presence in South Korea. However, the United States has considered, de jure, South Korea as the sole legitimate representative of all of Korea.

Support among the American public for US forces to defend South Korea has increased steadily. While it was at a mere 26% in 1990, it has now nearly tripled to 62%. A majority of the American public also have a positive view of Moon Jae-In, the South Korean President as of 2017.[6]

In 2015, according to Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, only 9% of Americans have a favorable view of North Korea, while 87% of Americans have a negative view.[7] According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, only 4% of Americans view North Korea's influence positively with 90% expressing a negative view, one of the most negative perceptions of North Korea in the world.

2017 marked a significant rise of tensions and amplified rhetoric from both sides as Donald Trump took the presidency, after it appeared that North Korea's nuclear weapons program was developing at a faster rate than previously thought. The increasing rhetoric (as well as Trump's more aggressive approach to handling North Korea), missile testing and increasing military presence on the Korean Peninsula sparked speculation of a nuclear conflict.

Despite fears of a massive conflict, a détente began to develop when on March 8, 2018, the White House confirmed that Trump would accept a meeting invitation from Kim Jong-un. At the time, they were supposed to meet in May.[8] On May 15, 2018, North Korea cut off talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the planned U.S.-North Korea summit, citing military exercises between the United States and South Korea.[9] This cancellation was quickly reversed when Trump received an uncharacteristically friendly reply from Kim. On June 12, 2018, Trump and Kim met at the summit in Singapore, in the first summit meeting between the leaders of the two countries.[10] Over the course of the summit, the two leaders engaged in several discussions and signed a joint statement calling for security, stability, and lasting peace.[11]

Country comparison

North Korea North Korea United States United States
Population 25,394,500 324,720,000
Area 120,540 km2 (46,540 sq mi) 9,826,630 km2 (3,794,080 sq mi)
Population density 202/km2 (520/sq mi) 35/km2 (91/sq mi)
Capital Pyongyang Washington, D.C.
Largest city Pyongyang – 2,586,389 New York City – 8,594,000
Government Juche one-party totalitarian dictatorship Federal presidential constitutional republic
First leader Kim Il-sung George Washington
Current leader Kim Jong-un Donald Trump
Official languages Korean English (de facto, none at federal level)
GDP (nominal) US$15.4 billion ($621 per capita) US $18.552 trillion ($57,230 per capita)