|Institute for Corean-American Studies|
Dennis P. Halpin
Dennis Halpin, ICAS Fellow, has ties to Korea going back over three decades to February, 1971, when he arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer (K-16) in Seoul. He taught English as a Second Language classes for two years at Kyunghee University and then, for a semester, at Seoul National University. He was in-country, therefore, during the surprisingly close 1971 Presidential election between former General Park Chung Hee and human rights advocate Kim Dae Jung. Due to the closure of the universities after the declaration of the October 1971 "Yushin" Constitution, Dennis and his Peace Corps colleagues were sent to set up English language workshops for middle school teachers at various sites around South Korea, including Taegu, Chungmu, Chunchon, and Dokjok Island off of Inchon.
Dennis returned to Korea a second time as a young Foreign Service Officer working at the American Embassy in Seoul from 1978 to 1982, first in the visa section and then in the political section. 1979 was a critical year for Korea, with the assassination of President Park Chung Hee. This was followed in 1980 by events which led up to the Kwangju Massacre. Dennis was an Embassy observer that year at the martial law trial of Mr. Kim Dae Jung where Mr. Kim was sentenced to death ( a sentence later rescinded due to American official intervention.)
Dennis came back to Korea for a third time, serving as the American Consul in Pusan from 1989 to 1993, where he witnessed the opening of a Russian and then a mainland Chinese Consulate in that city for the first time. In his position as American Consul, he was elected President of the Tongbaek International Rotary Club of Pusan (1990-91). In 1992, Dennis met with Pusan citizens angered over events in Los Angeles, where rioting involved ethnic Korean shopkeepers. The American Consulate in Pusan, as a result, was also the focus of sometimes violent demonstrations. When Dennis left Pusan, he received both the key to the city and a certificate of appreciation from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation for his work with Amerasian children. Before he left Korea at that time, Dennis served as official notetaker for former President Clinton's first meeting with then ROK President Kim Young Sam at the Blue House.
Dennis has visited North Korea once, when he attended a four-day UNDP-sponsored economic conference in Rajin/Sonbong in September 1996. He served at the American Embassy in Beijing from 1995 to 1998, and made four trips at that time to the DPRK border area near Yanji and one trip to the Dandong border area on the Yalu River. He was back in the border area in March (both Dandong and Yanji), traveling with Doug Anderson, Professional Staff Member of the House International Relations Committee where Dennis also currently serves as a Pearson Fellow.
Dennis' wife was born in Pusan and three of his four children were also born in South Korea.
This page last modified June 10, 2018 jdb