Hungary–South Korea relations
Hungary–South Korea relations refer to bilateral relations between Hungary and South Korea. Hungary has an embassy in Seoul and an honorary consulate in Incheon. South Korea has an embassy in Budapest.
Relations date back to the exchange of permanent missions between the two countries, announced during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. The announcement made Hungary the first Eastern Bloc country to exchange ambassadors with South Korea. At the time, a large number of officials from various Communist countries were in Seoul, having ignored North Korea's call for a boycott of the Olympics; along with Hungary, they also made various formal and informal contacts with the South Korean government.
Trade with Hungary was already valued at US$18 million at the time; expansion of economic contacts was widely viewed as Hungary's motive in the establishment of relations. Full diplomatic relations were formally established on 29 January of the following year. At the time, Kim Pyong-il, the son of Kim Il-sung and half-brother of future North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, had just arrived in Budapest as ambassador; in response to Hungary's moves towards ties with the South, the North transferred him to Bulgaria. Bulgaria soon followed Hungary's example and moved to open relations with the South.
In 2006, a North Korean diplomat in Hungary and his family members defected to South Korea by entering the South Korean embassy there and requesting political asylum. By 2007, bilateral trade had grown by nearly ninety times to $1.6 billion; major South Korean investors in Hungary included Samsung and Hankook Tire. The Hungarian ambassador to South Korea, Miklos Lengyel, who began his service in October 2007, had previously worked in his government's mission in Pyongyang in the 1980s.
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