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Republic of China–South Korea relations
Republic of China   South Korea
Map indicating location of Republic of China and South Korea
     Republic of China      South Korea

Republic of China–South Korea relations date back to 4 January 1949, four months after the formal establishment of the South Korean government, when the Republic of China set up an embassy in the Seoul district of Myeongdong. On 23 August 1992, however, the Republic of China (Taiwan) government, by then only in control of the island of Taiwan and a few minor outlying islands, severed diplomatic relations with South Korea in advance of its announcement of formal recognition of the People's Republic of China based in Beijing. Since then, relations between the two governments have been "in a rut".[1]

After Seoul's recognition of the PRC government in Beijing, direct commercial flights between Seoul and Taipei were terminated. For twelve years, only charter flights were operated between the two cities. The lack of scheduled flights caused tourist numbers to drop from 420,000 in 1992 to a low of 200,000 the following year, recovering only partially to 360,000 by 2003. Finally, on 1 September 2004, representatives of South Korea's unofficial mission in Taipei and Taiwan's unofficial mission in Seoul signed an aviation agreement that allowed aircraft of each side to enter the airspace of the other. This not only permitted the resumption of direct scheduled flights, but also allowed flights from South Korea to Southeast Asia to fly over the island of Taiwan instead of detouring over mainland China or the Philippines. Analysts at the time estimated this would save South Korean airline companies 33 billion (US$29 million at then-current exchange rates) in fuel costs and other fees.[2]

Former South Korean president Kim Young-sam visited Taipei for five days in July 2001. During this visit, he met with then-President of the Republic of China Chen Shui-bian at a lunch banquet, but the two were unable to come to an agreement over the wording of a joint written statement urging the resumption of direct air travel. Kim informed the embassy of the People's Republic of China in advance of his visit.[3] In October 2004, following the aviation agreement, Kim came to the Taiwan once more at Chen's invitation. He delivered a speech at National Chengchi University and toured port facilities in Kaohsiung, the sister city of South Korea's Busan.[4]




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