Canada has long enjoyed positive relations with the Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea). The friendly bilateral relationship continues to develop as South Korea becomes an increasingly important economic partner and a like-minded ally in multilateral forums. As trading nations, Canada and South Korea support trade liberalization and share membership in many multilateral economic organizations including the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both countries also share similar views on many multilateral and global issues, including strengthening the multilateral trading system, UN Security Council reform, human rights and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
South Korea is Canada’s 7th largest merchandise trading partner and our 3rd largest in Asia, after China and Japan. Canada-South Korea two-way merchandise trade is robust, reaching nearly $11.7 billion in 2011. Canadian merchandise exports to South Korea were $5.1 billion while Canadian merchandise imports were $6.6 billion. Canada’s top merchandise exports to South Korea include mineral fuels and oils, cereals wood pulp, mineral ores, and meat. Canada’s top merchandise imports from South Korea include vehicles, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, mineral fuels and oils, and iron and steel.
Recent High-level Visits
BC Premier Christy Clark visited South Korea in May 2012 during her tour of Asia.
Alberta Minister of Education Jeff Johnson attended the APEC Education Ministerial Meeting in Gyeongju, South Korea on behalf of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada in May 2012.
Prime Minister Harper, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Baird, Minister of International Trade Fast and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Ritz, travelled to Seoul in March 2012 and participated in the Nuclear Security Summit.
Minister of International Cooperation Oda participated in the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, November-December 2011, and had a bilateral meeting with Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.
Minister of State Bernier (Small Business and Tourism) was in South Korea October 12-15, 2011. Minister Bernier was promoting tourism to Canada through meetings with key Asian tourism operators and media at Showcase Canada-Asia 2011, Busan.
Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Finance Flaherty attended the G-20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010. Prime Minister Harper also visited Seoul in December 2009, at which time Minister of International Trade Day and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Ritz also had programs in Seoul. Then-Foreign Minister Cannon visited Seoul in November 2009.
The first Canadians in Korea were missionaries and teachers who made some notable cultural, scientific, and social contributions to Korean development, from the late nineteenth century through to the period of Japanese occupation. Following World War II, Canada participated in the joint supervision of the elections in South Korea undertaken by the United Nations Commission in 1947. A total of 26,791 Canadian troops participated in the Korean War (1950-1953), sustaining the loss of 516 Canadian lives. Canada’s continuing presence on the UN Armistice Commission and the UN Military Command is a reminder of our involvement in the Korean War. In 2010, the South Korean government undertook an ambitious campaign to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.
People-to-People Linkages and Academic Relations
People-to-people contacts have grown rapidly. On average, 7,000 South Korean immigrants have arrived on an annual basis between 1999 and 2008, bringing the number of Canadians of Korean origin to more than 200,000. There are more than 20,000 Canadians living in South Korea, including more than 5,000 English teachers.
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