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The diplomatic relationships between Romania and South Korea

     The idea of establishing a somehow normal connection between Romania and the Korean Republic appeared at the beginning of the 60’s. The Korean authorities began to show interest and then they prepared and started acting persistently in favor of establishing contact and forging relationships as normal as possible with the states under the communist regime, including Romania. A very clear example for the “Korean act” during the “interest” and “preparing” periods is the creation of east-European languages department (including Romanian language) from the Seoul National University, each having two classes. The classes are held even today.

     The amazing economic growth that the Republic of Korea had after 1965 obviously attracted attention and even the interest of the socialist countries (in 2007, Korea, which had a population of approximately 50 million people, a territory measuring 98.000 km2, had little natural resources had become the 11th economic power in the world, with a trade balance of 700 billion USD from which 357, 1 billion USD were coming exports and 343, 5 billion USD were going on imports).

     Even if at first glance it may seem surprising, the first clear step taken by Romania in the change of attitude towards the numerous attempts of contact and establishing relationships of the South-Korean representatives from Paris, London, Haga, Rangoon, Ottawa, Djakarta, Bruxelles, Tokyo, Islamabad, Washington etc, as well as towards South Korea in general were a few well-placed “gestures” with a powerful politic and diplomatic significance coming unexpectedly from the Korean representatives. Thus, in 19 November 1971 when at Geneva was being discussed the G.A.T.T Counsel Report (which starting 1 January 1995 was named The World Trade Organization), the South-Korean representative told the Romanian representative: “I will vote in favor of Romania’s acceptation because this will lead to the development of the international relations.”

     A year later, on 22 November 1972 the South-Korean consul from Washington told the Chief of the Romanian Economic Agency by phone that “the South – Korean Government voted for Romania’s request for entering the IMF and that they support the involvement of this country to the international system.”

     On 26 august 1973 when the South-Korean Labor Party came to a diplomatic visit, led by Kim Dong Kyu at that time the Secretary of the Labor Party, Nicolae Ceauşescu informed him directly that “without any preparation Romania wishes to establish relationships with the Korean Republic” but he didn’t specify the nature of these relationships. For the North-Korean representative this “wish” was not only surprising, but also shocking making the dictator declare that “we won’t do anything without the approval of the Korean comrades”.

     Excluding the international actions that took place around the world including Romania and the Korean Republic (The World Conference of the Population – Bucharest 1974; Universiada Bucureşti 1981; the reunion of “The group of the 77” in order to prepare the industry personnel – Bucharest 1982; the Olympic Games - Seoul 1988, etc), where inevitably the representatives of the two countries met, it can be said that the promise Ceauşescu made as to never do anything “without the Korean comrades’ approval” was mostly kept for 15 years.

     After the Revolution on 22 December 1989 and the implementation of the democratic regime, the issue of re-establishing diplomatic relations with the Korean Republic came up again, but this time on a different basis and context. Thus, after 2 months from the implementation, the new authorities approved the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Korean Republic and then opening embassy offices in Seoul and Bucharest. At the initiative of the Romanian party, the first contacts regarding these subject matters took place during February-march 1990 through the diplomatic missions of the two countries in O.N.U. (New York) and Kuwait. Taking this opportunity, it has been decided that a Romanian delegation should go to Seoul to sign the official documents regarding these issues.

     On 28 March 1990, a Romanian delegation led by Mr. Mircea Mitran the State Secretary of the External Affairs Ministry arrived at Seoul where he negotiated with the South-Korean delegation led by Choi Hoi-joon. Two days later, on 30 March 1990, Mircea Mitran and Choi Hoi-joong signed a protocol which stated: “Romania and the Republic of Korea, from the desire to further develop the contact and friendship relationships of the two countries, on the basis of honoring the international rights and the UN Carta, have decided to establish diplomatic relationships at the embassy level which will take effect on the date at the given Protocol.” They signed as well another document which specified the modalities and ways for further development of the relationships on multiple plans between the 2 countries.

     After the establishment of the diplomatic relationships and the opening of the Korean embassy in Bucharest (May 1990) and Romanian embassy in Seoul (July 1990), the evolution of the relations and bilateral cooperation increased at a rapid rate in all the fields. Visiting each other, even at the highest level, cooperation treaties in different fields, a good cooperation on international level, and the relatively high volume of investment of South Korean investors in Romania which situates the Korean republic in the top foreign investors, are just a few clear examples demonstrating that the step they have taken on 30 Mach 1990 was not only the right thing to do, but also it was extremely benefic for the both parties.































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