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International Relations

International Relations

International Relations

South Korea strives to promote friendly and cooperative relations with other countries. By July 2012, the country had established diplomatic relations with 189 countries, operating permanent embassies in 112 countries, in addition to 42 consular offices and 4 representative offices. In the past, the country’s diplomacy focused on western countries, including the United States, but it has pushed ahead with diversified diplomacy through brisk exchanges even with socialist countries, since the end of the 1980s.

The country is committed to carrying out positive activities as a member of diverse international organizations such as UNESCO, IMF, APEC, IAEA, ILO, WHO. South Korea became a member of the UN in 1991, and joined the OECD in 1996. The country has also carried out activities as a member of the IOC since 1947.

South Koreans serve the world as members of the international community through international cooperation carried out at the government level and through private organizations’ voluntary activities. (Photo: South Korean COPION volunteers with locals in Kathmandu, Nepal)

South Koreans serve the world as members of the international community through international cooperation carried out at the government level and through private organizations’ voluntary activities. (Photo: South Korean COPION volunteers with locals in Kathmandu, Nepal)



International Cooperation

South Korea does its best in the sector of international cooperation in keeping with its enhanced economic strength. The country takes part in programs designed to provide support for impoverished countries through the World Bank, the IMF, and the OECD. Recently, the country has also joined worldwide efforts for peacekeeping, global economic stabilization, environmental conservation, etc.

South Korea chaired the G20 Summit held in Seoul in November 2010, confirming its status as a leading country, under the slogan “Shared Growth Beyond Crisis.” Observers said that the country dealt with the foreign exchange issue, which was a core agenda concerning the then current global economic crisis, very efficiently. The Seoul event was the fifth G20 Summit and the first one held in Asia.

The Nuclear Security Summit Seoul 2012 was another event that showed the status of South Korea as a central country in the struggle for world peace. The Seoul event was held to discuss how to protect countries’ nuclear facilities, including power plants, and how to organize international cooperation to block nuclear terror attempts. It was the second nuclear security-related summit after the one held in Washington DC in April 2010. At the Seoul event, the participating countries adopted the 11-item Seoul Communique about concrete methods of implementing nuclear security.

South Korea is enhancing its status in the international community by achieving noticeable results in the Green Growth sector. Leading examples of such initiatives include the opening of the headquarters of the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) in Seoul and the transformation of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) into an international body. The GGGI, which was launched in June 2010 with the South Korean government playing a central role, had its status upgraded as an international body based in Seoul at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is expected that the GGGI will be able to contribute greatly to the development of the international community as an international corporation.

Provision of Support for Developing Countries

“In only half a century, South Korea transformed itself from one of the most impoverished countries in the world into a developed country capable of providing aid to others. Given this phenomenal success story, South Korea was a fitting host for the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the largest-scale international meeting in the development and cooperation sector, which was held in Busan in November 2011.

The GCF is called the World Bank of the Environmental Sector. It is the first international financial institution that South Korea succeeded in attracting to Songdo, Incheon (in October 2012). At the 16th session of the conference of the parties to the UNFCCC held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, the participants agreed to the establishment of the said fund. (Photo: Central Park in Songdo International City, Incheon)

The GCF is called the World Bank of the Environmental Sector. It is the first international financial institution that South Korea succeeded in attracting to Songdo, Incheon (in October 2012). At the 16th session of the conference of the parties to the UNFCCC held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, the participants agreed to the establishment of the said fund. (Photo: Central Park in Songdo International City, Incheon)



South Korea’s foreign aid programs are coordinated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). This body was established in 1991, and organizes programs designed to provide support for developing countries and to share South Korea’s own development experience. KOICA provides ODA (Official Development Assistance) of US$400-500 million annually to developing countries in Asia and Africa; these funds contribute to numerous areas, including education, health, agriculture/forestry/fisheries, public administration, and industrial energy, among others.

South Korea is also actively trying to improve governance in developing countries by training public officials. The Central Officials Training Institute provides education in many disciplines, including leadership, personnel management, economic and industrial planning, and rural development (modeled on South Korea’s New Community Movement of the 1970s). A total of 1,500 foreign officials have attended these courses since 1984.

South Korea is also pleased to be making a contribution to world peace and security through taking part in a wide variety of UN peacekeeping operations and by supporting the UN peacekeeping budget. Currently, South Korean troops are stationed in eight countries including Lebanon, South Sudan, India, Pakistan, and West Sahara, where they are tasked with the maintenance of order, rehabilitation, medical services, and other activities.

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