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Germany and the Republic of Korea (South Korea): Bilateral relations

05.04.2022 - Article

The two countries enjoy close relations in a spirit of trust. There are more than 40,000 Koreans living in Germany. Korean guest workers (particularly miners and nursing staff) supported the reconstruction of the two countries.

On his first overseas trip after taking office, President Moon visited Germany in 2017, meeting Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. Federal President Steinmeier travelled to Korea in February 2018 to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Federal Foreign Minister Maas last met the then Foreign Minister Kang in Berlin in August 2020. On the occasion of the 31st anniversary of German reunification, the South Korean Minister of Unification travelled to Germany to attend the official celebrations marking the Day of German Unity and engage in talks.

Common political priorities include strengthening democracy and human rights, promoting multilateralism and consolidating the global economic and financial system, as well as participating in international peacekeeping operations and combating the impact of climate change. Along with the members of the G7, the EU, and other countries, the Republic of Korea imposed economic sanctions on Russia in response to its war of aggression against Ukraine.

Germany and Korea have a shared experience of division that has brought the two countries closer together. Since 2011, experts from politics and academia have used the annual meetings of the German Korean Advisory Board to engage in dialogue about the implications of reunification and to develop ideas for the inner-Korean reconciliation process. Since 2002, the German-Korean Forum with representatives of civil society in both countries has met annually to draw up recommendations on how to deepen the wide range of bilateral relations.

With its strong economy and advanced technological capabilities, South Korea is one of Germany’s main trading partners in East Asia and the third most important market for German goods in Asia after China and Japan. Germany is South Korea’s most important European trading partner with a bilateral trade volume of some 31.4 billion euro in 2021. There are some 500 German companies or firms with German equity participation operating in South Korea, employing a local workforce of approximately 100,000.

South Korea is a global leader in information and communication technology and an important partner for research cooperation. In terms of cultural exchange, German classical music is held in high regard in South Korea, while K-pop and K-drama are becoming more and more popular among the young generation in Germany.

South Korea’s transparent and effective approach during the coronavirus crisis has been a model for measures in many areas, including in Germany. Both countries are promoting worldwide cooperation to overcome the crisis in a close dialogue between the South Korean and German authorities.

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