South Korea–United Kingdom relations

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British – South Korean relations
Map indicating locations of United Kingdom and South Korea

United Kingdom

South Korea
Korean President Park Geun-hye and British Prime Minister David Cameron on November 6, 2013, in London.
Celebration for the 130th Anniversary of UK-ROK relations on 23 May, 2013, at the British Embassy Seoul.

The relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland spans from the 18th century to the present day. Although the Republic of Korea gives 18 January 1949 as the date of the establishment of formal relations with the United Kingdom,[1] diplomatic ties go back to 1883.[2] British military participation in the Korean War during the 1950s was significant, but relations between the two countries at the time were described as "tenuous", with relatively little known about each other. Commercial and trade relationships grew rapidly during the 1970s. During the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s, Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to South Korea, which was well received at a time of crisis in the country. Today, there are strong economic and diplomatic links between the two countries.[2][3]

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 74% of South Koreans view United Kingdom's influence positively, and with 14% view United Kingdom negatively. And United Kingdom view South Korea's influence with 52% positively, and view of South Korea with 40% negatively.


The United Kingdom occupied Geomun Island, and renamed as Port Hamilton in 1885. The relationship between two nations had broken off during the Korea under Japanese rule (1910–1945). After the Second World War, South Korea established diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom on January 18, 1949. The United Kingdom fought alongside South Korea and other allied nations during the Korean War. Almost 100,000 British servicemen fought in the Korean war. Their most famous involvement was the Battle of the Imjin River, a confrontation with Chinese soldiers at the Imjin River. 600 soldiers of the British Army took on a force of 30,000 Chinese troops crossing the Imjin River in Korea. At the end of the battle 10,000 Chinese troops had fallen. British losses stood at just 59 and this battle is considered a turning point in the war as it halted the Chinese advance. The Gloucester Valley Battle Monument is a memorial for British soldiers killed at Solma-Ri, South Korea. 1,078 British soldiers died fighting in the Korean war.

There is a British embassy in Seoul and a South Korean embassy in London.[3][4] The UK and South Korea cooperate in world events with other nations such as the United States. They have recent military relations and the UK often supports South Korea's view during periods of turbulent North Korea–South Korea relations. There were about 17,000 South Koreans living in the United Kingdom in 2011.

In November 2016, the Republic of Korea Air Force conducted a domestic air combat maneuvering exercise with the British Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. This was the first such exercise with a foreign nation other than the United States.[5][6]

High-level exchanges[edit]

From the Republic of Korea to the United Kingdom:

From the United Kingdom to the Republic of Korea:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea. "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea-Europe". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Sir Thomas Harris, former British Ambassador to South Korea (27 June 2014). "Britain's Relations with Korea: A Personal View". Gresham College. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "UK and South Korea". Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "'Invincible Shield' - First ever UK-US-ROK Combined Air Exercise". RAF. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Invincible Shield Military Drill Against North Korean Threat: US, UK, South Korea To Begin Trilateral Exercise". International Business Times. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 

External links[edit]