Dennis Halpin has ties to Asia going back over four decades to February, 1971, when he arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer (K-16) in Seoul, South Korea. He taught English as a Second Language classes for two years at Kyunghee University and then, for a semester, at Seoul National University.
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. While studying Korean language and culture at Yonsei University in 1979-80, Dennis was awarded the Speaker’s cup (first prize) in the annual Korea Herald Korean language competition for foreigners.
Dennis returned 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). 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 in the summer of 1993.
Dennis received two years of formal Mandarin Chinese language training from 1993 to 1995. He then served for three years at the American Embassy in Beijing, first as a Deputy in the political section with responsibility for China’s external relations and then as nonimmigrant visa chief and then as acting Consul General in the consular section. He was also Embassy Coordinator for the UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in the summer of 1995 and attended by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton among other dignitaries. Dennis visited North Korea once during his tour in Beijing, when he attended a four-day UNDP-sponsored economic conference in Rajin/Sonbong in September 1996.
Dennis returned to Washington in 1998 and served for two-years as UN analyst in the INR Bureau at the State Department. Dennis joined the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U,S. House of Representatives in the summer of 2000, first as a Pearson Fellow from the State Department (2000-2003) and subsequently as Senior Professional Staff (2003-2013). He retired after thirty-eight years of Federal service on March 31, 2013.