Short history for the largest Korean community in Africa

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Short history for the largest Korean community in Africa

This summer, all eyes will be on South Africa, the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The sport’s grandest show will be held in Africa for the first time ever.

Korea will also watch closely. The boys in red - the color of the national football team uniform - are competing in their seventh straight World Cup and they will try to make it out of the group stage for the first time away from home.

The two countries don’t have a long history of relations. A South African squadron fought for South Korea in the Korean War even though the two didn’t have formal diplomatic relations at the time. But after 1978, South Korea severed all official ties with South Africa as the United Nations levied sanctions on South Africa for its apartheid policy.

When South Africa moved to dismantle apartheid in 1990, Korea began to consider ways to mend fences, and the two reinstated diplomatic ties in December 1992, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. The Korean Embassy in South Africa opened in March 1993, while the South Africa mission was set up here a month earlier.

Since the early 1990s, Korea has offered more than $10 million worth of grants to South Africa in the form of resources, development projects, NGO aid and even taekwondo teachers. The two countries also have a bilateral double taxation agreement, investment guarantee agreement and science and technology cooperation agreement.

In addition, three Korean cities and three provinces have established ties with their South African counterparts over the past 15 years.

According to the Foreign Ministry’s latest figures available, there were about 3,900 Koreans living in South Africa as of June 2009. They represent the largest Korean community in Africa.

By Yoo Jee-ho []
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