France has excellent relations with the Republic of Korea. This bilateral relationship is based on four priorities: 1) dialogue on major international issues (Korean Peninsula, fight against climate change, support for an open, multilateral free trade system, within the framework of strategic dialogue between Foreign Ministers); 2) development of cooperation in the area of diplomacy, security and defence; 3) deeper economic relations (including in the area of cross-investment and innovation); 4) development of exchanges and cooperation in the areas of science, education, culture and sports. It is structured around thirty or so forums for bilateral dialogue, four of which are at ministerial level.
In April 2022, 3,513 French nationals were listed as residents in the Republic of Korea. In 2019, 69,000 French nationals visited the country.
Presidents Yoon Suk-Yeol and Emmanuel Macron met for the first time on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid (29 June 2022). Prime Minister Han Duck-Soo met with the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Paris on 20 June 2022. President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s Special Envoy to the EU, Kim Gi-Hyeon, also met with the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Paris on 3 June 2022.
President Moon Jae-In made a State visit to France in October 2018. President Park Geun-Hye travelled to France in June 2016. The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, made an official visit to South Korea in November 2015. The latest strategic dialogue session for foreign ministers was held in Paris in May 2019.
French Ambassador to the Republic of Korea: Mr Philippe Lefort (Since 1 September 2019) @FranceenCoree
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to France: Mr Yoo Dae-Jong (Since 2020)
For France, South Korea is a leading partner in Asia. It is France’s third-largest trading partner in the region. In 2021, bilateral trade between France and Korea rose by 22% to €10.4 billion, surpassing the €10 billion mark for the first time. Due to the crisis, France recorded a bilateral trade deficit of €840 million, a first since the FTA entered into force. Given that France and Korea are positioned as major centres for innovation and the creative economy, our two countries are working to develop their industrial and technological cooperation (start-ups, key future technologies). Our exports have gradually became more diversified and include: cutting-edge ground transport equipment and aeronautical products, including latest-generation Airbus A350s; perfumes and cosmetics; chemicals; industrial and agricultural machinery and agrifood products. France promotes greater access for its products to the Korean market, including in the agrifood sector. In 2020, French FDI stock in Korea reached €3.9 billion (down 3% on 2019) and Korean FDI stock in France was €1.28 billion (down 8% on 2018). France is the third-largest European investor in Korea, after the Netherlands and Germany.
South Korea is a country of scientific excellence, which is attractive to French research bodies. Our cooperation enabled the development of several joint research structures, including the Institut Pasteur Korea and three international partner laboratories of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The adoption in 2018 of the French-Korean action plan for science and technology makes the development of academic, scientific and technological cooperation one of the priorities of our bilateral relationship.
France ranks sixth in terms of host countries for South Korean students, with 3,270 of them studying in France and seven Alliances Françaises in Korea.
The French-Korean joint committee for science and technology in July 2018 defined several bilateral priorities: life sciences and biotechnology; artificial intelligence; aeronautics and space; environmental sciences and climate. In addition, in 2018 a joint fund on artificial intelligence was launched, to support the work of four Korean and French universities and research centres. The opening of Korea House at the International University Campus in Paris in December 2018 was an important sign of the vibrant human exchanges between our two countries.
Updated: August 2022