Republic of Korea country brief
Australia and the Republic of Korea (ROK, also known as South Korea) are strong economic, political and strategic partners with common values and interests. People-to-people links between the two countries are increasing and make a significant contribution to the relationship.
Our important economic relationship continues to expand. The ROK is a key market for Australian minerals, energy and travel and education services and Australia is a major market for ROK passenger vehicles, petroleum, and electronic goods and parts. The investment relationship is also growing, from a small base.
Australia and the ROK have common strategic interests, particularly in seeking a peaceful resolution to tensions on the Korean peninsula. Both countries have important alliances with the United States and both have made significant and practical contributions to efforts to secure regional security and stability, such as sending troops to Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor and conducting counter-piracy operations.
Bilateral relations have strengthened considerably in recent years. Cooperation on international affairs has reinforced the partnership, for example, as fellow-members of the G20, promoting global financial stability.
The ROK held Presidential elections on 19 December 2012, with President-elect Park Geun-hye elected the country's next President.
The ROK is situated on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. An independent Korean state or group of Korean states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century – from the three Kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla – until 1910, Korea existed as a single independent country. From 1910 to 1945, the Korean Peninsula was subject to Japanese colonial rule. Following Japan's defeat in World War II, Korea was temporarily divided into two zones of occupation, with the United States administering the southern half of the peninsula and the Soviet Union administering the area north of the 38th parallel. Initial plans to unify the peninsula under a single government quickly dissolved due to domestic opposition and the politics of the Cold War. In 1948, new governments were established in each of the occupied zones – the Republic of Korea in the south and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north.
From the outset, the ROK and the DPRK operated under vastly different political, economic and social systems. Unresolved tensions created by the division led to the Korean War of 1950–1953 which was sparked when the DPRK launched an invasion of the ROK. An armistice in 1953 ended the fighting but a more comprehensive peace agreement has not been negotiated. Relations between the DPRK and the ROK remain tense.
The first recorded contact between Australia and Korea took place in 1889, when Australian missionaries landed at Busan. Australian photographer George Rose travelled the length of the peninsula in 1904 and photographed the country and people. Today, his images of everyday Korean life, clothing and customs form a valuable part of Korea's documentary history.
The relationship was strengthened by Australia's participation in the United Nations (UN) Commissions on Korea (beginning in 1947) and in the Korean War (1950–53). More than 18,000 Australian troops served under UN command and 340 Australians died during the Korean War. In September 2010, HMAS Warramunga visited the ROK to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War and take part in a re-enactment of the landing at Incheon. Prime Minister Gillard travelled to Korea in April 2011 to mark the sixtieth anniversary of two key battles of that war in which Australians participated – Gapyeong and Maryang San.
Full diplomatic relations were established between Australia and the ROK in 1961. The ROK Consulate-General in Sydney (opened in 1953) was elevated to embassy status with a chargé d'affaires from January 1961 and the first ambassador was in place from April 1962 (later, the ROK moved the embassy to Canberra). In June 1962, Australia opened an Embassy in Seoul. Since then, strong economic, political and strategic connections have grown between Australia and the ROK. People-to-people links, supported by a large and growing Australian Korean community, are positive and increasing, and the bilateral trade and investment relationship is complementary, longstanding and robust. Marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the Governments of Australia and the ROK designated 2011 as a "Year of Friendship" and links are being further enhanced in 2012 by Australia's participation in the World Expo with the theme of "The Living Ocean and Coast" in Yeosu, on Korea's south coast.
Australia-ROK high-level contact is substantial and expanding with regular meetings and contact between leaders and senior ministers. Prime Minister Gillard has visited Korea three times since becoming Prime Minister. She and President Lee Myung-bak met most recently in the margins of the Rio+20 environmental summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 20 June 2012, after meeting more briefly at the G20 Summit held in Los Cabos, Mexico, on 18 June. They also met in March 2012, when she attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
In 2011, Prime Minister Gillard met President Lee when she visited the ROK from 23-25 April. Her visit took place on the 60th anniversary of Australia's participation in the Battle of Gapyeong during the Korean War and also marked the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and celebrated the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship. The Prime Minister attended Korean War memorial services and together with President Lee issued a Joint Statement on 25 April 2011 in which they agreed that negotiations on an Australia-Korea FTA were in their final stages. Prime Minister Gillard announced Australia's contribution of $10 million to the Global Green Growth Institute which the ROK had established to support the development of green growth strategies and policies in developing countries. Prime Minister Gillard also met President Lee at the Bali East Asia Summit in November 2011, at the G20 Summit in Seoul on 10 November 2010 and in Brussels on 4 October 2010.
The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, the Hon Craig Emerson MP, celebrated the 'Australia Day' at the Yeosu Expo in the ROK on 27 May 2012. Dr Emerson met ROK Trade Minister, Dr Bark Tae-ho, on 27 January 2012 in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos and again on 23 May, in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris, and at the meeting of APEC Ministers responsible for Trade (MRT), held at Kazan, Russia, on 4-5 June 2012.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Bob Carr, had an introductory telephone conversation with the ROK Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kim Sung-hwan, on 2 April 2012 and they spoke again on 13 April, the day of North Korea's failed attempt to launch a long-range missile. Senator Carr spoke to ROK Foreign Minister Kim within hours following North Korea's long-range missile launch on 12 December 2012.
Other recent visits to Korea by Australian ministers include those of the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, at the time of the "KANZ" Broadband Summit in May 2012; the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP, in April 2012; and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, from 13 to 14 December 2011.
Recent senior ROK visitors to Australia have included the ROK's Chief Negotiator for the Six-Party Talks, Lim Sung-nam, from 4-5 June 2012 and the ROK National Defense Minister, General Kim Kwan-jin, who visited Australia from 14 to 15 December 2011 to join the Minister for Defence, the Hon Stephen Smith MP, in the first Australia-ROK Defence Ministers' Dialogue.
The foundations for recent strong progress in cooperation between Australia and the ROK were laid when ROK President Lee Myung-bak visited Australia from 4–6 March 2009, accompanied by the ROK Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Trade and Minister for Knowledge Economy.
Australia and the ROK share key security interests in North Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, with peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula critical to the economic performance and security of both countries. Both support a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and regard the continued commitment of the United States to the Asia-Pacific as critical to stability and prosperity in the region.
On 5 March 2009, then-Prime Minister Rudd and President Lee released a Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation.
The Statement reflects the values shared by Australia and the ROK and the importance both countries attach to addressing security issues in the region and the world. It has paved the way for closer cooperation bilaterally and in regional and multilateral fora. Specific areas of cooperation include: law enforcement, development assistance, border security, counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, defence and disaster response. The Statement provides a framework for expanding practical defence cooperation in areas such as military information sharing, peacekeeping, civil-military cooperation, joint exercises and training, and defence industries.
During then-Foreign Minister Smith's visit to the ROK in December 2009, Foreign Ministers reviewed progress under the Action Plan that supports the leaders' Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation and looked at ways to strengthen cooperation further. Since March 2009, the Action Plan had delivered important outcomes, including closer cooperation in law enforcement, non-proliferation and defence. In December 2009, Mr Smith and then-Foreign Minister Yu agreed on a new revised Action Plan, which was subsequently endorsed by the two countries' leaders. Action Plan for Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation between Australia and the Republic of Korea— Revised version agreed by Australian and ROK Foreign Ministers in December 2009
Australia's security cooperation with the ROK continues to expand in practical ways across a broad range of areas under the Joint Statement. Australia contributed to the ROK-led investigation into the 26 March 2010 sinking of the ROK navy vessel, the Cheonan, and, in May 2010, the Australian Army contributed to the ROK military's force preparation for its re-deployment to Afghanistan. Australia and the ROK have also cooperated under the multinational Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) since the ROK joined the PSI in 2009. In October 2010, Australia sent an RAAF P-3 Orion aircraft and an inter-agency team of officials to participate in the maritime interdiction exercise Eastern Endeavour 2010 hosted by the ROK in Busan.
Security issues are discussed regularly by the two countries, including at Foreign Ministers' consultations, in Political-Military Talks between senior foreign ministry and defence officials, in Defence Policy Talks, and through the relationships that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) staff colleges and the Australian Civil-Military Centre pursue with ROK military staff colleges and institutions. The Royal Australian Navy holds Navy-to-Navy talks with the ROK and makes regular ship visits. HMAS Warramunga visited the ROK in 2010 and two ROK Navy ships visited Sydney in August 2010 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Most recently, HMAS Ballarat conducted a port visit to Busan and took part in the RAN's inaugural bilateral maritime exercise with the ROK Navy, Exercise HAIDOLI WALLABY, on 28-29 May 2012. The Royal Australian Air Force makes visits to the ROK and holds Airman-to-Airman talks annually. Defence ministers from Australia and the ROK met on 14 December 2011 in Canberra for the first bilateral Defence Ministers' Dialogue and Prime Minister Gillard and President Lee have agreed to Australian defence and foreign affairs ministers meeting their ROK counterparts in a '2+2' dialogue.
People-to-people and institutional links
The Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF), an Australian Government funded body established in May 1992, makes an important contribution to people-to-people links. Supported by a Secretariat within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the AKF funds projects and programs that broaden and deepen the relationship between Australia and the ROK, especially in the fields of commerce and industry, science and technology, education, the arts, sport and media.
With support from the AKF and its ROK partner organisation, the Korea Foundation, a one and a half track Australia-Korea Dialogue was held in Canberra on Wednesday 12 October 2011. The Dialogue was co-chaired by Professor Michael L'Estrange, Director, National Security College, Australian National University, and Dr Kim Woo-sang, Professor of Political Science, Yonsei University. Twenty-two Dialogue participants, drawn from government, academia, think-tanks and business in the two countries, analysed the strong forces of change at work in the Asia-Pacific region, assessed their impact on the strategic interests of Australia and the ROK and discussed practical ways in which the two countries could further enhance their security cooperation. The Co-Chairs' Summary is attached. Previously, the two countries had held a dialogue in Seoul in May 2010, bringing together 14 policymakers, businesspeople, scholars, communicators and other experts from each side to discuss "Korea – Australia: Expanding Cooperation in the 2010s" [DOC 50 KB].
Non-governmental links are encouraged by the Korea-Australia Business Council and the Australia-Korea Business Council. Their annual joint meeting allows members to exchange views and expand private sector links between the countries.
People-to-people links have also been fostered through sister-city relationships, such as those between Townsville Qld and Suwon, Parramatta NSW and Jung-gu, Burwood NSW and Geumcheon-gu, and, most recently, Strathfield NSW and Gapyeong County. Sister-state relationships include those between Queensland and Gyeonggi Province, New South Wales and Seoul, South Australia and Chungnam Province, and Victoria and Busan.
Australia and the ROK signed a bilateral social security agreement on 6 December 2006 to give improved social security protection to people who have lived and/or worked in both Australia and the ROK. The social security agreement also exempts Australian employers from the need to provide ROK social security support for Australian employees sent temporarily to work in the ROK, provided the employee remains covered in Australia by compulsory superannuation arrangements.
Bilateral economic and trade relationship
Australia's trade relationship with the ROK developed rapidly during the 1960s, as the ROK pursued industrialisation requiring large amounts of raw materials. The two countries share a flourishing complementary trade relationship, with Australia providing raw materials, manufactured products, food and services to the ROK, and importing products such as cars, telecommunications equipment and computers, as well as refined petroleum.
The ROK is Australia's fourth-largest overall trading partner (total two-way trade was worth $32.7 billion in 2011, more than 5% of all of Australia's international trade).
Australian merchandise exports to the ROK have grown, on average, around a third faster over the past five years than they have to the world as a whole. The ROK was Australia's third-largest goods export market in 2011 (up to $23.4 billion). This marked a very good recovery from the decline seen in 2009-10 (when coal and iron ore prices fell from extraordinarily high peaks in 2008) and was stronger than the 2010 figure of $20.5 billion. As well as iron ore, coal, crude petroleum and copper and other ores, the ROK remains an important market for Australian beef, with exports valued at $773 million in 2011, up from $633 million in 2010.
The ROK was also Australia's third largest market for goods and services combined in 2011 (exports totalling $25.1 billion, up by 11.2% from 2010). Australian exports of services to the ROK totalled $1.7 billion in 2011, mostly recreational and education-related travel. Education has been a major export, with the ROK Australia's third-largest source of foreign enrolments after China and India for the last three years. In 2011, there were 29,333 enrolments by ROK students in Australian institutions (a decrease of 11.6% from 2010). Australia's export of education-related travel services to the ROK in 2011 totalled $852 million. Tourism from the ROK is also very important, with earnings of $660 million in 2011 (up from $630 million in 2010).
Australia's merchandise imports from the ROK fell to $7.13 billion in 2011 (down marginally from $7.14 billion in 2010). The ROK remained Australia's ninth-largest source of goods imports in 2011.
The ROK is a world-leading digital economy, underpinned by a near-ubiquitous broadband network and innovative application of information and communication technologies in commerce, education, government and entertainment. ROK expertise in deploying and innovatively applying broadband and the notable creative capital in Australia have led to collaborative cross-country links in the digital economy. Opportunities are expected to increase with the rollout of the National Broadband Network in Australia, increasing access to high-speed broadband.
The level of investment between Australia and the ROK is relatively small, but has grown and diversified over the last decade. The stock of Australian investment in the ROK totalled $6.8 billion in 2010, more than three times the level in 2001. The stock of ROK investment in Australia grew twenty-seven-fold from a low base in 2001 to $12.8 billion in 2011, which still represents only 0.6% of all foreign investment in Australia. Macquarie Bank has a significant presence in the ROK, active in funds management and infrastructure investment. The ANZ Bank is also active. In the other direction, major Korean investments have included Korea Zinc's $1 billion investment in the Sun Metals Corporation refinery in Queensland in the late 1990s and POSCO's $16 million investment in 2002 in BHP-Billiton's iron ore resources in Western Australia. Currently, ROK investors are involved mostly in resource development (including in New South Wales coal mines) or in import and distribution (e.g. Hyundai, Daewoo, Kia, LG and Samsung).
The ROK has recently signed three major LNG contracts to source gas from Australia – with Santos (Gladstone LNG), Total (Ichthys) and Shell (Prelude). When full production commences, around 2015, these contracts should see Australia provide around 25 per cent of the ROK's LNG, sharply up from the current two per cent.
Australia-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations
On 5 March 2009, then-Prime Minister Rudd and President Lee agreed to launch bilateral FTA negotiations. The first round of FTA negotiations was opened by the then-Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean and his ROK counterpart, Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon, during the Ministerial Joint Trade and Economic Commission in Melbourne on 18 May 2009. There have been further rounds of negotiations with the most recent discussions occurring in July 2012. For more information on the FTA negotiations, visit the Australia-Korea FTA webpage.
Agreement to launch the negotiations had followed the April 2008 release of a joint non-government FTA feasibility study which found that an Australia-ROK FTA that removed substantially all barriers to trade and investment would offer significant opportunities to further strengthen the highly complementary bilateral commercial relationship, and deliver gains to both countries through closer economic integration.
Government and administration
Since its establishment in 1948, the Republic of Korea has maintained a presidential system (except briefly when a parliamentary system was in place between June 1960 and May 1961). Under the presidential system, power is shared by three branches: the executive (headed by a president), the legislature (a single-house National Assembly) and the judiciary.
The president holds supreme power over all executive functions of government, within the constraints of the Constitution. The president appoints public officials, including the prime minister (with the approval of the National Assembly), ministers (who do not need to be members of the National Assembly) and the heads of other executive agencies. The president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is limited to serving a single five-year term. HE Mr Lee Myung-bak was inaugurated as President of the Republic of Korea on 25 February 2008.
Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Assembly, comprising 300 members elected for a four year term. This includes 246 members elected by popular vote, with the remaining 54 seats distributed proportionately among political parties according to a second, preferential ballot. A regular legislative session, limited to 100 days, is convened once a year. Extraordinary sessions, limited to 30 days, may be convened at the request of the president or at least 25 per cent of the Assembly members. Several extraordinary sessions are usually held each year. The most recent National Assembly election was held on 11 April 2012.
More detailed information on the ROK's system of government can be found at the official ROK Government website.
President-elect Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri (New Frontier) Party was elected the next president of the Republic of Korea on 19 December 2012 and will assume office following her inauguration on 25 February 2013.
President-elect Park has twice visited Australia; once as a teenager with her father (former President Park Chung-hee) in 1968 and again as a guest of government in May 2008. President-elect Park also met Prime Minister Gillard in Seoul in March 2012 and then-Foreign Minister Smith in Seoul in May 2008.
President Lee, a former top executive of the Hyundai Group who grew to political prominence as mayor of Seoul, will finish his term on 24 February 2013. Domestic politics have been turbulent through President Lee's term, starting with mass demonstrations against the resumption of US beef imports in April 2008. More recently, popular disenchantment with both the then Grand National Party and the main opposition parties was illustrated by a strong victory for a left-leaning independent, Park Won-soon, in the Seoul Mayoral by-election of 26 October 2011. In National Assembly elections on 11 April 2012, the Saenuri party lost its former huge majority but retained control of the National Assembly by a slim margin. The 19th National Assembly convened on 2 July.
Relations with North Korea have been particularly tense, receiving attention in ROK domestic politics, with the sinking of the ROK navy ship the Cheonan with the loss of 46 sailors on 26 March 2010; the revelation by the DPRK on 12 November 2010 that it had industrial-scale uranium enrichment capabilities; the DPRK's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in the ROK on 23 November 2010, which left four South Koreans dead and 55 wounded, the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011 and the North's failed satellite launch using a long-range missile on 14 April 2012.
Since the Korean War, the ROK has been preoccupied with the military threat from the DPRK and has been closely allied with the United States to guarantee its security. At present, the United States maintains around 28,500 troops in the ROK.
Foreign policy under the Kim Dae-jung administration (1998–2003) emphasised a 'sunshine policy' of engagement with the DPRK. President Kim's overriding objective was to secure regional peace and stability, and build a firm foundation for reconciliation with the North and the eventual reunification of the peninsula. This approach was continued by the succeeding Roh Moo-hyun administration (2003–2008). President Lee Myung-bak has taken a tougher line on the DPRK, linking economic aid to the need for the DPRK to end its nuclear arms program. From August 2003, the ROK participated in Six-Party Talks with the DPRK, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, with the aim of finding a lasting solution to the problems of the Korean Peninsula. See also DPRK country brief.
By virtue of geography and economic influence, relations with the major powers – China, the United States, Japan and Russia – remain the most important foreign policy priorities for the ROK, after its relationship with the DPRK. Over time, the ROK has actively sought to diversify its diplomatic and trade links and has made considerable efforts to ensure itself a place in the international community commensurate with its economic status. The ROK joined the UN together with the DPRK in September 1991 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996. It is an active member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional fisheries organisations, UN agencies and regional organisations such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Forum for East Asia – Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). In 2010, it chaired the G20, culminating in the Seoul G20 Summit in November 2010. It also takes part in the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) and is a dialogue partner of the Pacific Islands Forum. In 2009, the ROK joined the Proliferation Security Initiative. It also joined the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) in November 2009, signalling its support for the international consensus on principles of good donorship and aid effectiveness, and hosted the international aid donors' conference known as H-LF4 at Busan in November 2011. The ROK hosted the second Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012 in Seoul.
Under the current Lee administration, the ROK sees itself as a "middle power" that is well-positioned to play a pivotal role on global and regional issues, such as disarmament and economic governance. It appreciates the benefits of working together with Australia, which it sees as sharing similar values and interests.
At a glance
The ROK has made remarkable economic progress in the last half-century. When the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, Korea was impoverished and its economy was rurally-based. Much of its infrastructure was destroyed during the Korean War, which also had an enormous human cost. As a result, by 1960 the ROK's per capita GDP was comparable with those of the poorer countries of Asia and Africa. Sustained high economic growth since the 1960s has enabled the ROK's transformation into a highly industrialised and internationally competitive economy. In 2011, the ROK was the 15th largest economy in the world. With a population of 48 million, the ROK ranked 35th in GDP per capita terms in 2011.
In 2009, the ROK was one of the few OECD countries besides Australia to record growth (0.2 per cent, down from 2.3 per cent in 2008) though hard-hit by the global financial crisis. Factors supporting this included the rapid devaluation of the Korean won, providing exporters with a significant buffer, and a series of government fiscal stimulus packages. The ROK economy grew by 6.2 per cent in 2010, but slowed to 3.6% in 2011. Negative factors included inflation (persisting at around 4 per cent) and increasing household debt. The unemployment rate held steady around 3% in the second half of 2011, but youth unemployment emerged as a concern. Unemployment rose to 3.8% in the first quarter of 2012.
Overall, the economy picked up in the first quarter of 2012, thanks to growth in government spending, facility investment and exports. But for the year 2012, Bank of Korea (BOK) and IMF projections for ROK GDP growth have been revised down during the year, with the BOK now forecasting 3.0% growth. For the ROK's export-driven economy, the projected decline in growth reflects more sluggish global demand, although some areas of great strength in exports, such as mobile phones, have continued.
While ROK exports recovered after a decline in 2009, they face increasing competition around the world, particularly in the ROK's markets in the emerging economies. Sustained growth hinges on recovery in the world economy and, particularly, on demand in China, the United States, Europe and Japan.
Domestic demand is constrained by household indebtedness and a slump in the housing sector. The ROK government continues an expansionary fiscal policy to stimulate growth. The 2012 Budget included a 5.5% lift in government expenditure, with increases in health care, welfare, education and general public administration, and expenditure front-loaded to the first part of 2012.
Inflation has continued to moderate; consumer prices rose by 2.2% year-on-year in June, easing from 2.5% in May. In the second quarter of 2012, consumer price inflation averaged 2.4%. In June, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance lowered its inflation forecast for 2012 to 2.8%.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) has maintained a loose monetary policy since late 2008. On 12 July 2012, it cut the base rate of interest to 3.0%, after leaving it on hold at 3.25% for thirteen months. It has announced it will consider tightening monetary policy once the economy enters a more steady growth phase.
Long-term, the ROK economy faces the challenge of structural pressures: it needs to fund high defence expenditure, has an ageing population and low birth-rate, has low service-sector productivity and faces increasing competition in global markets, particularly from emerging exporters.
The ROK's traditional trade and financial links with the United States are supported by strengthening ties within Asia. In 2008, China became the ROK's largest trading partner and in 2010, China was the destination for 25.1 per cent of ROK exports, followed by the United States (10.7 per cent) and Japan. The United States, as the main market for many Chinese goods manufactured from ROK intermediate inputs, is likely to remain vital to the ROK's economic prospects for the foreseeable future.
The ROK has concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) with Chile, Singapore, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), ASEAN, India, Peru, the United States (ratified by the ROK in November 2011; not yet in force), the European Union and Colombia.
The ROK is currently negotiating FTAs or similar agreements with Canada, Mexico, Japan, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Australia (see Australia-Korea Free Trade Agreement Negotiations), New Zealand and Turkey. The ROK has also been considering bilateral FTAs with China, Russia, MERCOSUR (a South American regional trade agreement), the Southern Africa Customs Union, Panama, Vietnam, Israel, and a trilateral FTA with China and Japan.
Updated January 2013