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South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea

Relations with International Organizations and the Third World


President Roh Tae Woo
Courtesy Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington

South Korea has been very active in the United Nations even though, as of 1990, it was not a member. Seoul had taken a vigorous part in the activities of various subsidiary and specialized UN agencies, as well as other international organizations, and had active permanent missions to the United Nations, United Nations Economic and Social Council and its Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the European Community. An increasing number of UN Security Council members, including the Soviet Union, tended to consider seriously Seoul's bid for separate entry into the UN. This move was vehemently opposed by North Korea, which claimed that such a recognition would make the division of Korea permanent.

Seoul's activities in the Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (PECC) were particularly noteworthy. As a founding member of the PECC, South Korea played a key role in liberalizing trade networks throughout the entire Pacific region. The South Korean national committee of the PECC represented academic, business, and government interests. The national committee was extremely useful not only in formulating Seoul's trade policies, but also in communicating these policies to other members' national committees and in successfully negotiating mutually advantageous trade agreements.

Equally impressive has been Seoul's diplomacy toward the developing world. Being a developing nation itself, South Korea has identified with other developing nations. For this reason, and in apparent competition with P'yongyang, Seoul has been actively seeking to improve relations, particularly with nonaligned nations, based on the principles of good neighborliness, reciprocity, and equality. As of January 1990, Seoul had full diplomatic relations with seventy-eight members of the Nonaligned Movement, including Yugoslavia and Algeria. To promote economic assistance and expand trade, Seoul established the Economic Development Cooperation Fund in 1987. South Korea signed three loan agreements: US$13 million for a road construction project in Indonesia, US$10 million for modernization of fishing vessels in Peru, and US$10 million for railway projects in Nigeria. To promote better relations with developing countries on the basis of south-south cooperation, Roh made state visits to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei in November 1988.

Data as of June 1990