Korea (Republic of)

History of Relations | Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Statistics | Visits and Meetings | Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations

Contact between South Africa and the ROK dates back to the Korean War of 1950-53, when No 2 Squadron of the South African Air Force (SAAF), the "Flying Cheetahs", represented South Africa’s contribution to the United Nations war effort. Formal diplomatic relations between the RSA and the ROK, however, were only established on 1 December 1992, two years after the release of Mr Nelson Mandela from prison. South Africa's first Ambassador to the Republic of Korea presented his credentials in April 1993, while the first ROK Ambassador to South Africa presented his credentials in August 1993.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Korea

H R H Princess Z N Dlamini
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

Korean Representation in South Africa

H E Mr C J Park
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

For more information contact the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Pretoria.

Health Requirements

Immunisation against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B is strongly recommended before departure from South Africa. Malaria is not really a problem in Seoul, although it does exist in some parts of Korea.

For further information go to:

         Alameda Travel Vaccination Centre

         Travelers' Health

Climate Info

Korea is not a large country, yet it has a quite diverse climate changing drastically from season to season. Most of Korea is quite mountainous and it is situated on a peninsula.

There are four distinct seasons and a variety of different weather types. Located in the East Asian monsoon belt, the peninsula has hot, humid summers and long, dry, bitter cold winters. Spring and autumn are rather short with autumn being the most beautiful and the most invigorating.

Temperatures range from a low of -15C in winter to a high of 30C in summer.

For up-to-date weather information, click here.

Currency Info

The South Korean unit of currency is the South Korean Won (symbol: ₩, code: KRW) with coins of ₩50, ₩100 and ₩500. Notes come in denominations of ₩1 000, ₩5 000, ₩10 000 and ₩50 000.

The US dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency. Tourists have no difficulty in exchanging Korean Won into US hard currency or bank cheques. The currency is not freely convertible outside Korea.

Private individuals, including diplomatic and foreign business representatives, are limited to savings accounts only. Cheque accounts are usually reserved for business purposes only.

The local and international banks offer electronic banking facilities for cash withdrawals in KRW only.

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

The late President Nelson Mandela paid a State Visit to Korea in 1995, while former President Myung-bak Lee visited South Africa in July 2011 for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Former President Jacob Zuma visited Korea in March 2012 to attend a Nuclear Summit.

On 1 December 2018, Presidents Ramaphosa and Moon had a bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in Argentina on request of the latter, during which they discussed various issues related to the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Kang Kyung-wha, undertook a Working Visit to South Africa from 14 to 15 July 2019, during which she had a bilateral meeting with Minister Pandor. On 24 April 2020, President Ramaphosa and President Moon had a telephone conversation on request of the former to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and the ROK’s relative success in fighting the virus.

In April 1997, the two countries established a Policy Consultative Forum (PCF) as a way of focusing and structuring their bilateral relations and institutionalizing regular bilateral meetings. After seven meetings of the PCF between 2002 and 2013, the two countries decided during the 8th meeting of the PCF in 2014 to elevate it to the level of Joint Cooperation Commission (JCC) at ministerial level.

Bilateral Agreements

Since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1992, sixteen bilateral agreements have so far been concluded between South Africa and the ROK. These agreements cover cooperation in sectors such as air transport, the protection of investments, the avoidance of double taxation, science and technology, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, extradition, ICT, vocational training and energy.

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at 012 351 1000.

Trade Info

South Africa features as Korea’s largest trading partner in Africa while Korea is South Africa’s fourth largest trading partner in Asia. Total trade amounted to US$2.3 billion in 2020 with the trade balance in favour of South Africa. South Africa’s exports have also demonstrated an upward trajectory over the years despite the negative economic impact of the Covid pandemic.

The trade basket encompasses a broad range of products ranging from minerals, semi-finished products to sophisticated high-technology electronic products. South Africa has traditionally been a large supplier of bulk raw materials and semi-processed minerals and metals essential for numerous production processes in Korea. The top export category items to South Korea comprising mineral fuels (coal, ferro-chromium, ferro-manganese) ores, slags and ash, iron and steel (iron ore, stainless steel, lead, copper, nickel and zinc) contributed close to 50% of our total exports.

South Korean exports to South Africa on the contrary are predominantly made up of value-added or manufactured products including automobiles, automotive tyres, woven fabrics, apparel as well as industrial electronic and consumer electronic goods.

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Korea, visit the website of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

According to ROK Immigration statistics, there were 2 606 South African nationals resident in the ROK at the end of December 2020, 1 752 of whom were English instructors.

The South Africa-Korea Network (SAKorNet)

SAKorNet is a non-profit organization that was established by the South African Expat community in order to bring the growing South African population, living and working in South Korea together through regular contact. Through its website, all South Africans working and living in Korea are invited to share information, experiences and anything that might benefit other South Africans in Korea and even those who still plan to make their way to South Korea. SAKorNet’s e-mail address is sakornetwork@gmail.com.

South African Student Association in Korea (SASKOR)

There are a number of South Africans studying at South Korean universities and tertiary institutions.

The South African Embassy launched the South African Student Association in Korea in 2013 in order to assist SA students to network with each other and in this way support and maintain contact with fellow South Africans and to ease living in the foreign Korean environment.

SASKOR website address: www.facebook.com/groups/saskor.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa