Relations with North Korea

A timeline to accompany my master thesis about the relations between North Korea (DPRK) and Japan. It will show events in Japan, South Korea (ROK), North Korea, US, China and Russia that had an effect on the actions of North Korea.


大日本帝國 (Empire of Great Japan)

01/03/1868 - 05/03/1947

After the forced opening of Japan (1853), Unequal Treaties were concluded between Japan and Western imperialist countries. This was part of the reason why Japan, in this period, went on the road towards imperialism and militarism which led, among other things, to the occupation of Korea and the atrocities commited during World War II. Many of the issues (like territorial disputes) existing today between Japan, Korea and China have their roots in this period.

Korea under Japanese occupation

08/22/1910 - 08/15/1945

Korea came under Japanese rule through the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty and stayed under Japanese rule until Japan surrendered at the end of World War II

World War II

09/01/1939 - 09/02/1945

Cold War

1947 - 1991

Korean War

06/25/1950 - 07/27/1953

First armed conflict of the Cold War. War between North Korea (supported by China and Russia) and South Korea (supported by the UN) to reunite the Korean Peninsula that had been divided by the Americans on the 38th parallel.

Korean War Armistice Agreement


Ended the fighting between the United Nations Command and the Korean People's Army & PRC People's Liberation Army.

Non Proliferation Treaty

1970 - 2013

NPT for short. An international agreement to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. North Korea joined in 1985 but withdrew in 2003 and is believed to possess nuclear weapons at the moment.

Asian Financial crisis


North Korea (DPRK)

Democratic People's Republic of Korea


Korea was liberated on August 15, 1945. It became divided at the 38th parallel, with the North being occupied by the Soviet Union and the South by the US. On September 9, 1948 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was declared in the North.

Kim Il Sung: leader of the DPRK

09/09/1948 - 07/08/1994

Kim Il Sung (15 April 1912 - 8 July 1994) was the leader of the DPRK and invaded South Korea in 1950 which ignited the Korean War. He established a cult of personality, called Kimilsungism, and introduced the Juche ideology. A lot of myths have been fabricated about his birth, life and death. He is also called the Great Leader. He was succeeded by his eldest son Kim Jong-il in 1994.

Kim Jong-il

1994 - 2011

Kim Jong-il (16 February 1941 - 17 December 2011) succeeded his father in 1994.

Agreed Framework

10/21/1994 - 2003

The Agreed Framework was concluded between the US and DPRK in 1994. As part of non proliferation, the US would send oil to the DPRK and together with Japan and South Korea help instal some light water reactor power plants, so that the DPRK can stop with nuclear power plants to avoid the risk of going nuclear. One of the elements of the agreement was step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. Implementation did not go well and the framework ended in 2003.

First Nuclear Test


DPRK announces that it conducted a nuclear test.

Second Nuclear Test


Kim Jong-un

2011 - 2013

Kim Jong-un (8 January 1983 or 1984) assumed office on the 17th of December 2011.

Third Nuclear Test



Japan surrenders to the Allied Forces


After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and Nagasaki (9 August 1945) Japan surrendered on the 15th of August 1945.

Japan occupied by Allied Forces

08/28/1945 - 04/28/1952

For the first time in history, Japan became occupied by a foreign power. General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers supervised the occupation in Japan. Unlike Germany, Japan was not divided.

U.S. and Japan Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement


Permits U.S. to station troops in Japan. Came into effect on May 1, 1954.

Treaty of San Francisco


Was signed on September 8, 1951 and came into force on April 28, 1952. Officially ended the war between the Allied Forces and Japan, and the occupation of Japan by the US. 48 countries signed the treaty but others, like the USSR, did not sign due to Cold War sentiments. Start of the so-called 'San Francisco System'.

Security Treaty Between the US and Japan


A mutual defense agreement between the US and Japan. Came into effect on April 28, 1952. (Same day as the San Francisco Treaty)

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan


Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea


FIFA World Cup

05/31/2002 - 06/30/2002

Jointly organized by Japan and South Korea. Had a positive influence on Seoul-Tokyo relations.

South Korea

Republic of Korea


Korea was liberated on August 15, 1945. It became divided at the 38th parallel, with the North being occupied by the Soviet Union and the South by the US. On July 17, 1948 the Republic of Korea was declared in the South. And on August 15 a government was put in place.

Olympic Games in Seoul


FIFA World Cup

05/31/2002 - 06/30/2002

Jointly organized by South Korea and Japan. Had a positive influence on Seoul-Tokyo relations.


President Clinton in office

01/20/1993 - 01/20/2001

Bill Clinton served two terms as President of the United States. And the end of his tenure the relation between the US and the DPRK was going well and progress was being made towards a nuclear free DPRK.

President Bush in office

01/20/2001 - 01/20/2009

G.W. Bush served two terms as President of the United States. During his tenure US-North Korea relations soured due to his ABC policy: Anything But Clinton. 9/11 sparked the War on Terrorism and Bush declared North Korea a rogue state and 'part of the axis of evil' in his State of the Union Address (Jan 2002). The Agreed Framework of October 1994 between the US and the DPRK ended because of tensions between the two countries.

President Obama in office

01/20/2009 - 01/20/2013

Barack Obama is now in his second term as President of the United States.


People's Republic of China


The People's Republic of China (PRC) is proclaimed by Mao Zedong. China becomes a communist country.

Warming of PRC-US relations

1971 - 1972

Due to the rift between Russia and China, there was room for better relations between the US and China. The visit of president Richard Nixon in 1972 to the PRC was an important step towards normalization of relations between the two countries. It was the first time an American president visited the PRC.

Mao Zedong died


Death of Mao Zedong, who proclaimed the People's Republic of China in 1949 and became its leader.


Sino-Soviet Treaty


The Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, is the treaty of alliance concluded between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union.

Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration


This declaration was signed by Japan and the Soviet Union to end the state of war and for restoration of diplomatic relations between USSR and Japan.

Sino-Soviet Split

1960 - 1989

Even though both China and Russia are communist countries, their ideas about communism differ from one another, due to the different needs and culture of the regimes. Therefore a rift occured between the countries during the sixties and continued until the end of the Cold War. Relations improved because of the visit of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Beijing in 1989.

End of the Soviet Union


The Soviet Union (or USSR) established on 30 December 1922, was dissolved in 1991 thus ending the Cold War. From then on the Soviet Union became internationally recognized as Russia.