Why are Republic of Korea and Russia strengthening ties?



Sergey Lavrov commends South Korea’s determination to cultivate partnership with Russia.

Russia and South Korea established diplomatic relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their relationship has survived all of the turbulent issues in both countries, regardless Seoul’s close military partnership with US.

South Korea’s cooperation with Washington is basement of its foreign policy. Nevertheless, Seoul does not undermine its relations with Russia. This is unique example when one state maintains such good relations with both US and Russia and it is proving that the foreign policy of the South Korea is successful.

Moreover, South Korea has visa-free regimes with both US and Russia (currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in the world). South Korea does not impose sanctions against Russia or any other ant-western state, but the South Korean government does not recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.

There are several factors that explain the successful foreign policy of Korean government with Kremlin. Firstly, Russia and South Korea do not have the state borders and Kremlin concentrate attention mainly on the Post-Soviet area and the East Europe, on the other side, Koreans are mostly concerned with issues in the East Asia. Secondly, Russians has a great economic presence in Korean economy especially in the sphere automobile industry and Korean invest  huge financial resources into Russian Far East especially in the heavy forest industry and for that reason they forget both ideological sides in their relations. In addition, Russian and Korean youth have maintained a positive image of each other because of exchange programs and big number of cultural events.

Certainly, this does not mean that their relationship is completely ideal and perfect.

Russian physicians helped together with Chinese one to develop the nuclear program of the North Korean armed forces. Nevertheless, there is no public demand for diplomatic confrontation between two influential states because Russia is South Korea’s twelfth biggest trading partner, while South Korea is Russia’s sixth in terms of imports, and eighth in terms of exports and they consider each other are reliable business partners. Moreover, Moscow tired also from Pyongyang because they ask always material assistance during the economic troubles and then forget about their political obligations. Pyongyang needs Russia just as the counter balance against China and depends from Russian veto power in the UN Security Council during the diplomatic negotiations.

Finally, the significant aspects for Russia are tourism and trade relationship with the South Korea. The absence of visa requirements makes South Korea a very convenient state for tourists from the Russian Far East and Siberia and same applies for the South Korean tourists to see and invest in the different parts of Russia.


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