Switzerland has good relations with the Republic of Korea. As an important trading partner, this country attracts a wide variety of Swiss investors, which in recent years has led to a much higher level of cooperation in the fields of science and research.
Key Aspects of Diplomatic Relations
Switzerland and South Korea have had diplomatic relations since 1963. In 2013 the two countries celebrated their 50th year of bilateral relations. The regular organisation of high-level visits helps to strengthen relations, particularly within the framework of the political dialogue initiated in 2014.
At the multilateral level, Switzerland and South Korea collaborate in areas such as climate change and human rights, where they share similar positions.
Switzerland is a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC), established after the 1953 ceasefire agreement. This institutional military presence, deployed on the border between the two Koreas, is responsible for monitoring the ceasefire.
The volume of trade between Switzerland and South Korea has more than doubled since the free trade agreement between South Korea and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) entered into force in 2006.
The Swiss embassy in Seoul is supported by a Swiss Business Hub, which is responsible for promoting trade and investment between the two countries. Today, about 100 Swiss companies are present on the South Korean market.
Cooperation in Education, Research and Innovation
In recent years, exchanges between Switzerland and South Korea in the fields of education, research and innovation have increased considerably.
In 2007, the two countries signed a science and technology cooperation agreement to promote collaboration between researchers, research institutions and research funding agencies. The agreement also provides for regular meetings of a joint committee.
The Swiss embassy in Seoul actively supports Swiss actors in education, research and innovation (including start-ups) in their activities and in contacts with South Korean partners.
South Korean researchers are eligible to apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Swiss Films and Presence Switzerland promote cultural exchange alongside various private initiatives. The Swiss Fund Korea seeks to strengthen Switzerland’s image in the South Korea. The Swiss embassy in Seoul also helps to promote Switzerland's cultural presence in the Republic, through regular participation in the ‘Tage der deutschen Sprache’ and the ‘Fête de la Francophonie’.
Swiss Nationals in the Republic of Korea
At the end of 2018, there were 257 Swiss nationals living in South Korea.
History of Bilateral Relations
Switzerland supports the maintenance of the ceasefire on the Korean peninsula and has declared its readiness to provide its good offices at any time, as it did during the quadripartite talks held in Geneva between the two Koreas, China and the United States between 1997 and 1999.
In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, the NNSC appointed Switzerland to monitor the demarcation line between North and South Korea. This was the Swiss Armed Forces' first mission abroad.
In December 1962, Switzerland established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. In the subsequent decades, the ties between Switzerland and the Republic of Korea continued to grow stronger, resulting in the close, amicable relations enjoyed today.