Republic of Korea (South)

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Embassies and consular services for Republic of Korea (South)

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Embassy of the Republic of Korea
New Zealand Embassy Korea, Democratic People's Republic of, Korea, Republic of

Our relationship with the Republic of Korea

New Zealand’s bilateral relationship with the Republic of Korea (ROK) is founded on strong political, economic, and security links going back to the Korean War. Diplomatic relations were established in 1962 and resident Embassies opened in Seoul and Wellington in 1971.

In recent years the relationship has deepened through engagement in areas such as economics and trade, defence, people-to-people links, film, culture, tourism, education, science and technology, and Antarctic issues.

Our strong bilateral relationship provides a sound foundation on which to enhance collaboration in regional and international settings such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the UN. In recent years, Korea has extended its foreign policy focus to ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific, including more broadly New Zealand and Australia. 

New Zealand and the Republic of Korea also work together closely on Antarctic issues. Both countries have signed the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The ROK’s research facility in the Ross Sea Region, Jang Bogo Station is supported out of Christchurch. The Korean Antarctic Programme (KOPRI) has some staff co-located in the Antarctica New Zealand building in Christchurch and the Korean Antarctic icebreaker, the RV Araon, often stops at Lyttelton for refuelling and supply. 

Trade and investment

New Zealand and Korea have complementary economies and are natural trading partners. New Zealand companies, including Māori business, are growing their trade with the Korean market. New Zealand’s exports to Korea include dairy, aluminium, logs, meat, dairy, and seafood; imports from Korea include refined oil and consumer items such as cars, electronic equipment, and machinery.

New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Korea is at an all-time high. The Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (KNZFTA) entered into force in December 2015. It provides the foundation for an even closer trade relationship. The FTA has brought several rounds of tariff reductions, improved access for Aotearoa New Zealand exporters and an increase in two-way trade since signing. There are strong opportunities for further growth in several sectors including food and beverage, wine, green tech, and digital.

New Zealand and Korea are both signatories to the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP).

In May 2022 14 partners in the Indo-Pacific, including New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, opened negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

The Republic of Korea joined the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) in 2024.

The Korea New Zealand Business Council(external link) (KNZBC) helps to progress business relationships between our two countries.

The latest information about New Zealand's trade profile with the Republic of Korea is available on the New Zealand Trade Dashboard(external link).

Defence and security

The Republic of Korea is one of New Zealand’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific. This is emphasised in the depth and breadth of bilateral cooperation, but also in our shared stake in regional peace and security, our strong commitment to the rules-based order and open trade, and Korea’s rising influence in world affairs.

The defence relationship has developed out of New Zealand’s involvement in the Korean War. Around 6,000 New Zealanders served in the Republic of Korea, 45 of whom lost their lives. Commemorative ceremonies are held in April in Seoul, at the Kapyong battle site, and at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan, where 32 New Zealanders are buried.

New Zealand continues to support efforts to bring peace and security to the Korean Peninsula. New Zealand contributes a small number of New Zealand Defence Force personnel to United Nations Command (UNC) and its Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC). Bilateral defence engagement is maintained through involvement in annual military exercises, ship visits, defence talks, multilateral peacekeeping operations and academic exchanges. 

People and culture

New Zealand and the Republic of Korea share a bilateral relationship reinforced by strong people-to-people links. The substantial Korean-New Zealand population (known as Kowis), with citizenship and/or family connections in both countries, help ensure people ties between our countries remain robust and vibrant. Sister city agreements have been concluded between several cities, including Auckland and Busan, Wellington and Seoul, and Christchurch and Seoul’s Songpa-gu District.

The Republic of Korea is a global science and innovation leader, and New Zealand considers Korea an important collaboration partner. With a focus on advanced technologies, environment/Antarctic research, and health, the Republic of Korea-New Zealand Strategic Research Partnership Fund aims to strengthen collaborative links and raise awareness of mutual research capabilities. 

Young New Zealanders can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa(external link) for South Korea. 

Information for Korean citizens interested in living and working in New Zealand can be found on Immigration New Zealand’s Korea Working Holiday Visa(external link) website.

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