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Our relationship with the Republic of Korea (South Korea)

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is our sixth-largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade totalling at NZ$4.7 billion in the 12 months to September 2018. New Zealand and Korea are both liberal democracies with market economies, and we cooperate in regional and global forums. We have cooperation agreements for film, science and technology, education and the Antarctic

Diplomatic relations with Korea were established in 1962, with a New Zealand Embassy opening in Seoul in 1971 and an Honorary-Consul residing in Busan. However our political, economic and security links with Korea date back to the Korean War (1950-53) during which 6,000 New Zealanders served and 45 lost their lives. New Zealand continues to support efforts to bring peace and security to the Korean Peninsula and we also engage with Korea on military exercises, ship visits, defence talks and exchanges. The Korea New Zealand Business Council (KNZBC) helps to progress business relationships between our two countries

Korean students have studied in New Zealand since the 1960s, and in 2009 our two countries signed an Education Cooperation Agreement to strengthen the relationship at a policy level. The first New Zealand-Republic of Korean Joint Policy Committee on Education was held in Wellington. Bilateral education cooperation is strong and comprehensive ranging from sister-school and institutional relationships to education policy dialogue.

The strong ROK-New Zealand 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.

Trade

2018 statistics

Total two-way trade

$4.7 billion

 

Exports to Korea

$1.8 billion

Top exports: wood, dairy, meat and edible offal

Imports from Korea

$2.3 billion Top imports: mineral fuels and oils, vehicles, machinery

GDP

US$1,613 billion

 
GDP per capita US$40,049 (NZ GDP per capita is US$42,940)
GDP growth  2.5%  

New Zealand and Korea have complementary economies and are natural trading partners. Korea is our sixth largest export destination. Two-way trade has grown more than four times since 1990, and the New Zealand-Korea FTA is expected to contribute to future growth.

New Zealand is popular with Korean tourists who are our seventh largest group of overseas visitors, with 93,744 Korean visitors and 19,860 New Zealand’s visitors to Korea in the year ending June 2018.

The Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (KNZFTA) entered into force in December 2015:

We're also negotiating a regional free trade agreement that includes Korea:

People

There are an estimated 40,000 Koreans living in New Zealand, Koreans are the fourth-largest source international students, with some 7,280 Koreans studying at New Zealand schools and tertiary institutions. There is a community of around 500 Kiwis living in Korea, many of whom are English-language teachers.

Sister City Agreements have been concluded between several cities, including Auckland and Busan, and Christchurch and Seoul’s Songpa District. In June 2016, Rotorua signed an MOU with the Boryeong City Mud Festival and will hold its own Mud Festival from 2017 to 2021. Wellington City Council signed a “friendly city” agreement with the Seoul Metropolitan Government in July 2016 and is looking to develop and expand ties with its counterparts in 2010.

Science and technology

Korea is a global science and innovation leader and New Zealand considers it an important collaboration partner. There is a range of ongoing activities under a Science and Technology Cooperation Arrangement signed in 1997. The current programme (the Korea-New Zealand Strategic Research Partnership Fund), which focuses on advanced technologies, environment/Antarctic research, and health, was announced in early 2015. It aims to strengthen collaborative links and raise awareness of mutual research capabilities.

One notable joint research project to come out of the first Programme has been the robotics for elderly care collaboration between the University of Auckland and its Korean counterpart, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI).

Information and communications technology (ICT) is another area of collaboration. Korea is said to be the “most wired country in the world” and a global leader in the development and commercialisation of new technologies, while New Zealand has capabilities in research, software design and leveraging off high-technology.

In July 2014, New Zealand hosted the regular Korea, Australia, New Zealand (KANZ) Technology Summit, which brought together ministers, senior officials and business leaders from the ICT sector, to discuss areas of common interest and commercial opportunities.

Both countries enjoy a collaborative relationship in film. Several Korean films have been partially made or post-produced in New Zealand and our countries signed a Film Cooperation Agreement in 2008.

Antarctica

We’re both consultative parties to the Antarctic Treaty, 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). In 2012, we signed an Agreement on Antarctic Cooperation to promote cooperation on Antarctic policy, scientific research and logistical activities.

Korea’s new research facility in the Ross Sea region, Jang Bogo Station, opened in early 2014 and is supported out of Christchurch.

Māori economy

Korea is important to Māori business as a market for logs, horticulture and seafood products, as well as tourism. A Korean company, Hansol, has partnered with Ngati Porou interests in an East Coast forestry investment. 

Defence

A defence relationship has developed out of New Zealand’s involvement in the Korean War. Groups of New Zealand veterans and their families visit the ROK each April for commemorative ceremonies in Seoul, the Kapyong battle site, and at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan, where 34 New Zealanders are buried. The Royal New Zealand Navy's new tanker, HMNZS Aotearoa, is currently under construction at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan.

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 Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC).

Working Holiday Scheme

New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa for South Korea.

To apply, you can go to, or post your application to, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Wellington or the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Auckland.

For more information, read the Korean Govenment's website (external link).

Embassies

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Korea

February 2018

 

Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, met Korean Vice Minister of Strategy and Finance, Ko Hyoung-Kwon, and Kim Hyun-Chul, Economic Adviser to President Moon Jae-in.

 

November 2016

Former Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, represented New Zealand at the 3rd meeting of the D5 Digital Leaders’ Summit in Busan to discuss Leading Digital Innovation

 

April 2016

Former Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Craig Foss, travelled to Korea to mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Gapyeong to pay respects to our fallen soldiers buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan.

 

June 2016

Former Minister for Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell, travelled to Korea to raise the profile of Maori businesses and promote their time-honored traditions.

Korea to New Zealand

December 2018

 

President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to build on the strong relationship between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

September 2015

Minister of Foreign AffairsYun Byung-se was welcomed by then-Foreign Minister Murray McCully and discussed regional and global security issues.

 

February 2014

Speaker of the National Assembly Kang Chang-hee and a delegation of National Assembly members and officials met then-Prime Minister John Key, former Speaker David Carter, and members of the New Zealand-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Group.

 

August 2012

Foreign Affairs Minister Kim Sung-hwan visited Auckland for discussions on regional and global issues, during which he signed a new Antarctic Cooperation Agreement with then-Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

 

 

 

News & Events

2018 Anzac Day Service in Korea

Republic of Korea (South)

The 2018 Anzac Day Service will take place on Wednesday 25th April at 06:30 in Seoul and 10:30 in Busan. All members of the public are invited to join either of these services and are welcome to lay wreaths or poppies.

Lamb Shank Redemption at NZ Food Week in Korea

Republic of Korea (South)

New Zealand Food Week in Korea and local interest in New Zealand food and beverage offerings has kept the NZTE Seoul office out of the kitchen and in the frying pan.

Education links with Korea flourish

Republic of Korea (South)

Education links with Korea are flourishing, with rising numbers of students studying in New Zealand and the signature of an agreement to recognise each other’s senior secondary qualifications.