Diplomatic relations between Nepal and the Republic of Korea (RoK) established in 1974. The Republic of Korea opened its Embassy in Kathmandu in 1974. Nepal established its Embassy in Seoul in 2007. The relations between the two countries are based on goodwill, friendship and mutual cooperation. Frequent exchanges of visits at various levels have further strengthened these relations. Two countries celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the RoK and Nepal in 2014. Nepal has appointed its Honorary Consul in Busan city.
The Government of Nepal and the ROK have concluded an agreement for the establishment of Consultation Mechanism between the Foreign Ministries of both countries in October 2001. Three meetings of the mechanism concluded so far. The third meeting was held in Kathmandu in 21 October 2016. This mechanism provides the opportunity for both sides to discuss on various dimensions of the bilateral relations and to share views on further enhancing bilateral cooperation in coming days.
Exchange of Visits
As part of high level visit from Nepali side Mr. Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, former Minister for Foreign Affairs visited the Republic of Korea from May 12 – 16, 2014 to attend the program organized by the Nepali Embassy in Seoul marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral relations between Nepal and the RoK. Foreign Secretary Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi visited Korea from 11-16 June 2016 at the invitation of the Korean Government. He had extensive discussions and exchanges with his counterpart and other agencies of the Government of the Republic of Korea such as KOICA, EPS, KOTRA, etc.
From the Korean side as part of high level visits, Mr. Yu Myung-hwan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade visited Nepal on 22 June 2009. Mr. Kyung-soo Lee, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs of the Republic of Korea also visited Nepal from 25–27, November 2014 to participate in the 18th SAARC Summit. Mr. Chung Eui-hwa, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea visited Nepal on 24-26 April 2016 leading a 22-member delegation including four members of the Parliament. That was the first visit of the sitting Speaker of the Republic of Korea, and one of the highest-level visits from the RoK to Nepal. In 2016, H.E. Mr. Moon Jae-in, the incumbent President of Republic of Korea, visited Nepal privately to assist in ongoing reconstruction works.
Agreements and Mechanisms
A Nepal-ROK Parliamentarian Friendship Group was established in 2002 consisting of then five members of House of Representatives. Nepal and the ROK concluded Cultural Agreement on 30 March 2005 envisaging to promote and develop the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of culture, art, education, youths, sports and tourism. Nepal and Korea has signed MoU on Employment Permit System (EPS) on 23 July, 2007 for recruiting Nepali Workers in Korea. The latest amendment (fourth) of the MoU on EPS concluded on 05 October 2015, which is valid for 2 years. The Governments of Nepal and the ROK have also signed a Framework Agreement for Grant Aid on October 30, 2014.
Nepal – Republic of Korea Economic/ Technical Cooperation
The Republic of Korea had started its development cooperation to Nepal since 1976. The ROK has been extending two types of grants to Nepal through KOICA: 1) Grant Aid, which includes equipment and project aid; and 2) Technical Cooperation, which includes development studies, trainings, volunteers, health and rural development and ICT sector. KOICA has been dispatching middle level technical personnel to work as volunteers in Nepal. Korea provides bilateral soft loan or loan under Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) to Nepal through Import Export Bank of Korea.
Trade and Investment:
The total trade volume between Nepal and Korea is NRS 446 million and Nepal has trade deficit with ROK amounting to NRS. 426 million. Despite the volume is growing, both sides need to take consorted measures to correct the trade deficit.
South Korea is one of the top five investors in Nepal. The Korean products such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, KIA and Daewoo are popular brands in Nepal. Many Korean investors are showing keen interest to invest in Nepal mainly in hydro power, constructions and service sectors. The joint ventures are also taking place in the fields of electronics, hotel industry, chemical industry, medicinal goods, and mineral water etc.
Employment Permit System
Nepal’s participation in EPS system has been mutually rewarding to both countries. The Employment Permit System (EPS) was agreed between the two governments in 2007. The Nepali youths are contributing to the economies of both countries by remitting their earning in Nepal and providing their services to the Korea. Since 2008 to 2015, the EPS test had been conducted five times in Nepal. Over 35,850 Nepali people have left for South Korea under EPS. The Korean Government has increased quota from 3200 in 2017 to 10,200 for the Nepali workers under the EPS system.
Tourism and Culture
Nepal has been one of the most favored tourist destinations of the Korean people. Mt. Everest and birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini are major attractions for Korea tourists. Natural sanctity and religious holy places also attract Korean people. Both Nepal and Korea have commonalities of cultural values based on the ideals of Buddhism. The Embassy of Nepal in Seoul took Eternal Peace Flame from Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha to install permanently on the premises of Dosunsa Monastery on March 21, 2013. The Government of Nepal and the Government of Republic of Korea have concluded a Cultural Agreement on 30 March 2005. Since then both countries have been organizing cultural events in each other’s capital regularly.
Cooperation at regional and multilateral levels
The Republic of Korea was granted SAARC Observer status in 2006. Since then, Korea has been actively undertaking programs to share its development experience with SAARC partners. Both countries have been cooperating each other on the issues of mutual concerns in the multilateral forums including the United Nations.