South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is currently on a three-country tour of Africa. In an email interview, Gabriel Jonsson, an associate professor of Korean studies at Stockholm University, discussed trade and diplomatic relations between South Korea and Africa.
WPR: What is the recent history of South Korea's diplomatic relations with Africa?
Gabriel Jonsson: Although South Korea began to establish diplomatic relations with African countries starting in the early 1960s, relations with Africa have been less active than with any other continent. In 2006, President Roh Mu-hyon became the first South Korean head of state to visit Africa since 1982. Roh then launched "Korea's Initiative for Africa's Development." The trip by President Lee Myung-bak to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia this month is a clear sign that South Korea increasingly regards Africa as an important partner for cooperation.