Iran–South Korea relations

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Iran–South Korea relations
Map indicating locations of Iran and South Korea

Iran

South Korea

Iran and South Korea have had diplomatic relations since 1962.[1] Throughout history, the two countries have maintained a relatively friendly and strongly strategic partnership despite Iran's close relationship with North Korea, and South Korea's close relationship with the United States.

It is desired[by whom?] that Koreans' view about Iran change to positive after President Park visited Iran on May 2–3, 2016.

Relations in imperial Iran[edit]

South Korea and Iran relations established on 1962 August; in 1967 April Iranian Embassy in South Korea opened.[2]

According to the book Korean in Persian Gulf

South Korea-Iran relations[edit]

For a whole host of political, economic and cultural reasons, Iran was the center of the South Koreans' unremitting attention in the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East in general, from the very outset of their (modern-day) arrival in the region during the second half of the 1950s. As much as alliance politics is concerned, South Korea was able to develop stronger political ties and more considerable economic relations with Iran under the Pahlavi monarchy in the 1960s and (especially) in the 1970s. Even when one factors in the alliance politics between South Korea and its other close partners in the region - Saudi Arabia, for example - Iran was still the RO K's first pick of the bunch; its position was as distinctive as "a crane among chickens." Besides serving one of the main pillars of the security of the Persian Gulf, part of Iran's unique standing in the region had to do with the vexing dilemma of the Israeli issue in the ROK's overall diplomacy toward the Arab countries of the Middle East. For example, the South Korean government had to frequently reassess its rather ambiguous policy toward Israel in order to please its Arab partners, particularly those petroleum suppliers in the Persian Gulf, while such a stumbling block did not bother Seoul's ties to Tehran - not in the 1960s and not in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In addition to its early recognition of the ROK and its sympathy toward the people of South Korea upon the outbreak of the Korean War, the Iranian government often threw its unequivocal support behind Seoul in major inter¬national debates involving the Korean Cause, especially at UN meetings. Iran was even willing to help South Korea get out of the quagmire that was the Vietnam War, offering to play a mediating role in order to find a political solution to that internecine conflict which involved a significant number of South Korean soldiers.84 To further nurture this kind of Iranian goodwill towards their country and to solidify bilateral relations with Iran, the South Korean government often resorted to the slew of political, economic and even cultural measures at its disposal until the fall of the monarchy in early 1979.85 Every South Korean top official, with the exception of the president, visited Iran before 1979; among them were prime ministers, the speaker of the National Assembly, many cabinet ministers (including the head of foreign ministry), and mayors of Korea's largest cities.

On one occasion, a special representative of the South Korean president traveled all the way to the Shah's vacation spot in northern Iran to deliver a letter from Park Chung-hee.86 On economic grounds, Iran was alluring to South Korea long before the 1973 oil boom that saw the start of an unprecedented spending spree on imports and new construction projects. 87 Before it suffered the adverse effects of petrodollars, Iran's economic plans had progressed rather significantly and earned a great deal of global appreciation. The ROK was no exception. Korean officials used Iran's economic progress and improved standing in the world at this time as reasons why their country should foster stronger ties with the Persian Gulf nation.88 In the words of Suk-chan Lo, the South Korean ambassador to Tehran in I 968: "Korea is inclined to improve its relations with Iran, the country whose economic development has impressed all the nations in the world."89 Recognizing Iran as potentially the largest market in the Middle East for its manufactured exports, South Korea strove to sign a series of lucrative eco¬nomic packages with the Iranian government in the aftermath of the first oil shock, when Saudi Arabia was gradually becoming the largest construction market for the South Koreans. Following a dozen smaller deals, the two countries signed a major pact at the conclusion of the "Second Session of the Korea-Iran Ministerial Joint Commis¬sion for Economic and Technical Cooperation" held in Tehran from October 31 to November 3, 1976, under which they agreed to expand their two-way trade and to try to do $2 billion in trade during a five-year period ending in 1980. The massive agreement also included the promise of delivering 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day to South Korea for a period of 15 years; the construction of 100,000 housing units; a dramatic increase in the number of Korean unskilled and skilled workers admitted to Iran; the exchange of information on economic development; and cooperation between their respective fisheriesj? Moreover, the two countries embarked on a number of joint economic projects, including a well-known 50-50 joint venture between the Korean Ssangyong Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Corporation (NIOC) signed in January 1976 to build a crude oil refinery in South Korea. Another joint activity was the forma¬tion of a company to produce and sell garments, a venture which was to receive 60 percent of its funding from Iran's Saka Manufacturing Corporation and the other 40 percent from South Korea's Boo Hung Sa & Co.91

in 1968: "Korea is inclined to improve its relations with Iran, the country whose economic development has impressed all the nations in the world."89 Recognizing Iran as potentially the largest market in the Middle East for its manufactured exports, South Korea strove to sign a series of lucrative eco¬nomic packages with the Iranian government in the aftermath of the first oil shock, when Saudi Arabia was gradually becoming the largest construction market for the South Koreans. Following a dozen smaller deals, the two countries signed a major pact at the conclusion of the "Second Session of the Korea-Iran Ministerial Joint Commis¬sion for Economic and Technical Cooperation" held in Tehran from October 31 to November 3, 1976, under which they agreed to expand their two-way trade and to try to do $2 billion in trade during a five-year period ending in 1980. The massive agreement also included the promise of delivering 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day to South Korea for a period of 15 years; the construction of 100,000 housing units; a dramatic increase in the number of Korean unskilled and skilled workers admitted to Iran; the exchange of information on economic development; and cooperation between their respective fisheriesj? Moreover, the two countries embarked on a number of joint economic projects, including a well-known 50-50 joint venture between the Korean Ssangyong Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Corporation (NIOC) signed in January 1976 to build a crude oil refinery in South Korea. Another joint activity was the forma¬tion of a company to produce and sell garments, a venture which was to receive 60 percent of its funding from Iran's Saka Manufacturing Corporation and the other 40 percent from South Korea's Boo Hung Sa & Co.91 The Korean contractors in the region, meanwhile, turned their businesses to the Iranian market when Hyundai Construction signed a deal with Iran to build a shipyard for the Iranian navy near Bandar Abbas, a southern port city straddling the Persian Gulf. By April 1979, companies from South Korea had established 5 percent of their overseas businesses in Iran,92 taking thousands of Korean laborers with them to carry out their projects. Other groups from the Korean migrant workforce also ended up working in Iran, including 32 air technicians employed at National Iranian Airways and around 70 nurse employed at Mofid Hospital in Tehran, the latter actually being the largest group dispatched on a single occasion "in the history of [the] overseas employ¬ment of Korean nurses."93 The increasing number of Korean laborers in Iran

List of Ambassador of South Korea in Iran[3][edit]

Order Diplomat name Term
초대 1. 노석찬(盧錫瓚) 1967. 4
제 2대 2. 김종규(金種圭) [4] 1971. 3
제 2대 3. 현시학(玄時學) 1974. 5
제 4대 4. 김동휘(金東輝 1978. 8
제 5대 5. 이창희(李昌熙) 1980. 6
제 6대 6. 심기철(沈基哲) 1980.12
? 공사 강승구(姜勝求) 1982. 9
제 7대 7. 민형기(閔形基) 1985. 6
? 강신성(姜信盛 1987. 9 (미부임)
제 8대 8. 오정일(吳正一) 1988. 3
제 9대 9. 정경일(鄭慶逸) 1989. 6
제 10대 10. 이상열(李相悅) 1992. 4
제 11대 11. 신성오(辛成梧) 1994. 2
제 12대 12. 김재규(金在珪) 1996. 3
제 13대 13. 신장범(愼長範) 1998. 5
제 14대 14. 이상철(李相哲) 2001. 2
제 15대 15. 백기문(白基文) 2003. 9
제 16대 16. 임홍재(任洪宰) 2005. 9
제 17대 17. 김영목(金永穆) 2007. 10
제 18대 18. 박재현 대사 2010. 8
제 19대 19. 송웅엽 대사 2012. 9
제 20대 20. 김승호 대사 2015. 10 ~ 현재

Nuclear program[edit]

In June 2007, South Korea’s then-foreign minister, Song Min-soon, supported a diplomatic solution to the international disagreement over Iran’s nuclear program.[5] In November 2008, South Korea’s next foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, said that Iran needs to reassure the international community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, "the Iranian foreign minister stressed that his country is pushing for a nuclear program for peaceful purposes.”[6]

Economic relationship[edit]

Iran and South Korea enjoy strong economic ties with bilateral trade totaling roughly $10 billion in 2008.[7] Despite disagreements over Iran’s nuclear enrichment activity, Vice President of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency Hong Ki-Wha and the head of Iran’s Investment and Technical and Economic Assistances Organization, Mohammad Khaza’i, signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2007, in which they agreed to form a committee with the aim of boosting trade between their two countries.[8] Kim Sung Gun, South Korea’s parliamentary delegation head to Iran in March 2007 noted that Korean companies are eager to invest in Iran and added that he hopes the two countries can encourage bilateral investment.[9]

According to a Middle East Economic Survey, Iran exported 157,000 barrels of crude oil per day to South Korea in July 2009. Though South Korea has decreased total crude oil imports from the Middle East by 14.7% compared to the previous year, Iran remains South Korea’s fourth largest source of crude oil.[10]

In May 2009, South Korean ministers participated in a major conference on foreign investment in Iran.[11] South Korea also attended the Iranian gas forum on September 26–27, 2009 alongside Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.[12]

According to a report by the United States government, as of April 2010 there were three South Korean firms active in Iran’s hydrocarbon sector between 2005 and 2009 that received US government contracts totaling roughly $880 million. These were the Daelim Industrial Company, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and GS Engineering and Construction.[13] On July 3, 2010, Iran the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) cancelled a $1.2 billion contract with GS Engineering and Construction, accusing the firm of failing to fulfill its obligations. The South Korean company had been tasked with removing hydrogen sulfide from gas pumped from Iran’s South Pars gas field after signing an agreement in October 2009.[14]

Iran has about local 2,500 SME trading partners in South Korea. It said that more than 600 out of the 2,500 firms see their ratio of exports to Iran exceed 50 percent.[15]

Diplomatic/military cooperation[edit]

South Korea and Iran have continuously disagreed on the latter’s nuclear enrichment activities. In January 2007, Ban Ki-Moon, South Korea’s former foreign minister, assumed the position of UN Secretary General. Since assuming office, Ban has supported a number of sanctions against the Islamic Republic for failing to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency, further straining relations between the two countries.[16] Impediments notwithstanding, South Korea and Iran have had a number of official meetings to discuss bilateral trade and political cooperation and have signed several memorandums of understanding, including on media cooperation, trade-investment, and technical cooperation between the two.[17]

During a March 2009 meeting between National Assembly Speaker of South Korea Kim Hyong-o and Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, Kim expressed his hope that Iran and South Korea expand parliamentary cooperation.[18] That same month, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister in Asia and Pacific Affairs suggested that Iran and South Korea should cooperate to help establish security in Afghanistan.[7]

In November 2009, Iran announced that it was prepared to aid in resolving the Korean peninsula crisis. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran welcomes mutual understanding and agreement between South and North Korea to promote peace and stability in the region. During a meeting with South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-Jon at the end of October 2009, Mottaki said that “mutual cooperation has not been balanced in all fields and we hope to be able to make it more balanced.” The South Korean senior diplomat responded that “we want promotion of ties in all economic fields and implementing joint projects and deepening bilateral cooperation in direction of mutual interests.”[19]

On January 6, 2010, the head of the Iran-South Korea parliamentary friendship group, Hossein Hashemi, and Speaker Kim Hyong-o met in Seoul in order to discuss ways to foster bilateral cooperation, particularly, in the economic and energy sectors.[20] During the meeting, Hyong-o referred to the ample potentials existing on both sides for increasing mutual cooperation and expressed satisfaction over the growth of bilateral ties between the two countries. On Iran's nuclear issue, he stressed Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear energy, and added "all countries are entitled to use peaceful nuclear energy and we believe Iran's nuclear program is for civilian purposes."[21]

In April 2010, in an effort to improve the two countries’ “mutual understanding and acquaintance,” South Korea and Iran agreed to exchange news and media teams and enhance current levels of educational and technical collaboration. The decision to expand cooperation in the field of media was taken following a meeting between Islamic Republic News Agency Directory Ali-Akbar Javanfekr and Lee Seung Jung, the head of the South Korea Press Association.[22]

Although “high politics” ties between the two countries are not especially developed, Seoul and Tehran have taken steps to engage each other in cultural spheres. In May 2009, the South Korean Vice-Cultural Minister Jae-min Shin and the South Korean Ambassador to Tehran Kim Young-mok attended a ceremony entitled “Korea, Sparkling Night in Iran” where both officials expressed the hope that such events would bring about improved political, economic and cultural relations between South Korea and Iran.[23] In October 2009, South Korea’s Pusan International Film festival will host two Iranian filmmakers, Payment Hagani and Mahmoud Kalari. The Iranian filmmakers will present their films as well as participate in an educational workshop for aspiring Asian directors.[24] Furthermore, the Iran National Library and Archives (INLA) has agreed to work to increase bilateral cooperation with the National Library of [South] Korea. In March 2010, INLA Director Ali-Akbar Ashari met with his South Korean counterpart, Chul-min Mo, to sign an agreement pledging to exchange experience in staff training and library science, and to hold book fairs.[25]

Improving relations from 2016 May[edit]

After lifting international sanctions of Iran President Park Geun-hye and a total of 236 businessmen and women visited Iran on 2016 May 2, 3[26] Summary of visit:

TEHRAN, May 3 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday South Korea and Iran can produce a win-win situation if they work together in infrastructure projects in the Islamic Republic.

Iran is pushing to rebuild an economy and modernize its infrastructure after the U.N. lifted sanctions in a follow-up to a landmark deal reached with the United States and five world powers over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

"I am here to pursue the path of common prosperity with old friend Iran,” Park said in a forum attended by some 450 South Korean and Iranian business executives and leaders in the Iranian capital.

On Monday, Park and Rouhani observed the signing of nearly 20 out of 66 memorandums of understanding worth up to US$45.6 billion after their summit.

Seoul hopes the MOUs could pave the way for South Korean companies to eventually win massive infrastructure projects under way in Iran.

She also said she expects the MOUs signed between the two governments on transportation and infrastructure as well as water resources to further boost bilateral cooperation down the line.

South Korea and Iran “can produce a win-win outcome in overall infrastructure” projects, including railways and airport, Park said at the business gathering.

The forum is part of South Korea’s efforts to help business executives from both countries build a network and facilitate economic cooperation.

More than 230 South Korean business executives and leaders have accompanied the president on her state visit to the Islamic Republic to explore new business opportunities.

Park also called for efforts to facilitate and diversify trade.

The trade volume between Korea and Iran stood at US$6.1 billion in 2015, compared with $17.4 billion in 2011. Rouhani said the two countries could boost bilateral trade to more than $30 billion in five years.

“I believe that my visit could serve as an important occasion to secure momentum for the development of bilateral relations and to strengthen substantial cooperation,” Park said in a separate meeting with nearly 20 representatives from the Korean community in Iran.

Iran is home to about 330 South Koreans, mostly businessmen and their families.

Separately, more than 120 South Korean companies held business meetings with more than 490 Iranian buyers at a hotel in Tehran on Monday. Some of them signed deals worth US$537 million with Iranian partners, according to South Korean officials.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "South Korea Embassy in Iran". 
  2. ^ "Koreans in the Persian Gulf_ Policies and International Relations - Shirzad Azad - Google Books". 
  3. ^ "List of Ambassador of South Korea in Iran". 
  4. ^ Template:뉴스 인용
  5. ^ “S. Korea Urges Settlement of Iran's Nuclear Case Through Diplomacy,” IRNA, June 4, 2007 (February 11, 2009)
  6. ^ “South Korea asks Iran to dispel nuclear concerns,” Yonhap, November 13, 2008 (February 11, 2009)
  7. ^ a b “Iran Calls For Joint Projects With South Korea In Afghanistan,” Fars News Agency, March 18, 2009
  8. ^ “Iran, S. Korea To Pursue Joint Trade,” Press TV, April 8, 2007 http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=7812 (February 17, 2009)
  9. ^ “Iran-South Korea emphasize on good economic ties”, Iran Defense Forum, irandefense.net March 12, 2007
  10. ^ “Iran Fourth Crude Exporter to South Korea,” MojNews, September 16, 2009, http://www.mojnews.com/en/Miscellaneous/ViewContents.aspx?Contract=cms_Contents_I_News&r=357803 (August 31, 2009)
  11. ^ “Foreign Investment Conference To Be held In Iran,” Islamic Republic News Agency, May 27, 2009, http://www.irna.ir/En/View/FullStory/?NewsId=510384&IdLanguage=3 (May 27, 2009)
  12. ^ Third Iran Gas Forum: September 26–27 in Tehran,” Payvand News, September 23, 2006, http://www.payvand.com/news/09/sep/1260.html (September 23, 2009)
  13. ^ “Factbox- Foreign Companies Stepping Away from Iran,” Reuters, July 5, 2010 http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE65R1O220100705 (July 5, 2010)
  14. ^ “Iran Scraps US$1.2 Billion Gas Deal With South Korea,” Bernama, July 3, 2010 http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=510687 (July 5, 2010)
  15. ^ http://tehrantimes.com/economy-and-business/114641-south-korea-to-partially-lift-iran-sanctions
  16. ^ “Ban Ki-moon ‘deeply concerned’ by Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment,” UN News Center, February 22, 2007 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21650&Cr=iran&Cr1 (February 17, 2009)
  17. ^ “Iran, S. Korea To Pursue Joint Trade,” Press TV, April 8, 2007 http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=7812 (February 17, 2009) ; “Iran, South Korea Discuss Media Cooperation”, Fars News Agency, January 30, 2009.
  18. ^ “South Korea Calls For Parliamentary Cooperation With Iran,” IRNA, March 17, 2009
  19. ^ “Iran Ready to Mediate Between Two Korease,” Xinhua, October 18, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/18/content_12265970.htm (November 7, 2009)
  20. ^ " Iran, S.Korea confer on promoting cooperation”, ISNA, 6 January 2010, http://www.isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1468632&Lang=E
  21. ^ " Iranian Parliamentary Delegation Visits S. Korea", Fars News Agency, 6 January 2010, http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810160620
  22. ^ “Iran, S Korea to Exchange News Teams,” IRNA, April 23, 2010
  23. ^ “’Korea, Sparkling Night in Iran’ helps raise funds for Iranian Children suffering from cancer,” Pavyand Iran News, September 16, 2009 http://www.payvand.com/news/09/may/1040.html (May 5, 2009)
  24. ^ “South Korea to host two Iranian filmmakers,” Press TV, September 16, 2009 http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=105756&sectionid=351020105 (September 9, 2009)
  25. ^ “National Libraries of Iran and S. Korea Sign Agreement”, Mehr News Agency, March 13, 2010
  26. ^ "President Park Geun Hye Visited Iran, Yonhap News".