How significant is the US-South Korea relationship?


(NewsNation) — Presidents Joe Biden of the United States and Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea on Wednesday will sign an agreement to have U.S. nuclear-armed submarines docked in the Asian country for the first time in 40 years.

This is Biden’s third bilateral meeting with Yoon, and it comes at a moment of heightened anxiety for both leaders over an increased pace of ballistic missile tests by North Korea over the last several months.

Here’s a look at the relationship of the two countries so far:


There are 28,500 U.S. Troops in South Korea, and it is one of the U.S.’ most important geopolitical and military-strategic partners.

Signed in 1953 at the end of the Korean War, the U.S.-Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty commits the United States to helping South Korea defend itself — particularly from its neighbor to the North. South Korea has traditionally paid for about 50%, or over $800 million annually, of the total nonpersonnel costs of the U.S. military presence.

Although strained under former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration has worked to repair the alliance between North Korea and U.S. This prompted the 115th and 116th Congresses to impose conditions via the National Defense Authorization Acts to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea.

In 2021, the Biden administration concluded a cost-sharing negotiation with South Korea that boosted the country’s contribution to alliance costs by 13.9%.


South Korea is one of the United States’ most important economic partners in Asia. The economic relationship is bolstered by the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, or KORUS FTA, which was implemented in 2012.

In 2022, South Korea was the United States’ seventh-largest trading partner for goods and services combined.

The relationship is reciprocal, though — in 2022, the U.S. was South Korea’s second-largest trading partner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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