Hungary–South Korea relations

Hungary–South Korea relations refer to bilateral relations between Hungary and South Korea. Hungary has an embassy in Seoul and an honorary consulate in Incheon. South Korea has an embassy in Budapest.

Hungary–South Korea relations


South Korea
Diplomatic mission
Hungarian Embassy, SeoulKorean Embassy, Budapest
Ambassador Mózes CsomaAmbassador Choe Kyu-shik


Relations date back to the exchange of permanent missions between the two countries, announced during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. The announcement made Hungary the first Eastern Bloc country to exchange ambassadors with South Korea. At the time, a large number of officials from various Communist countries were in Seoul, having ignored North Korea's call for a boycott of the Olympics; along with Hungary, they also made various formal and informal contacts with the South Korean government.[1]

Trade with Hungary was already valued at US$18 million at the time; expansion of economic contacts was widely viewed as Hungary's motive in the establishment of relations.[1] Full diplomatic relations were formally established on 29 January of the following year.[2] At the time, Kim Pyong-il, the son of Kim Il-sung and half-brother of future North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, had just arrived in Budapest as ambassador; in response to Hungary's moves towards ties with the South, the North transferred him to Bulgaria. Bulgaria soon followed Hungary's example and moved to open relations with the South.[3]

Notable events

Defection of a North Korean diplomat (2006)

In 2006, a North Korean diplomat in Hungary and his family members defected to South Korea by entering the South Korean embassy there and requesting political asylum.[4] By 2007, bilateral trade had grown by nearly ninety times to $1.6 billion; major South Korean investors in Hungary included Samsung and Hankook Tire. The Hungarian ambassador to South Korea, Miklos Lengyel, who began his service in October 2007, had previously worked in his government's mission in Pyongyang in the 1980s.[5]

Sinking of Hableány (2019)

On 29 May 2019, a river cruiser called the Hableány sank, after being rammed by a larger river cruiser called the Viking Sigyn. The incident killed 25 of the 33 South Korean tourists on board the Hableány, and one remains missing (as of 15 August 2019).

The incident resulted in South Korea sending rescue workers to Budapest: some of them also took part in rescue operations following the Sewol disaster in 2014.[6] South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha also travelled to Budapest, to visit the survivors and relatives of passengers on the Hableány.[7]

See also


  1. Chira, Susan (1988-09-14). "South Korea Woos Communists; Move to Full Ties With Hungary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  2. "Weekly Record of Events in Eastern Europe" (PDF). Open Society Archive, Central European University. 1989-02-02. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  3. Sterngold, James (1990-06-02). "Evolution in Europe; Stunned North Korea Warns Soviets on Meeting With Seoul Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
  4. "N. Korean diplomat defects". International Herald Tribune. 2006-03-28. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  5. Kim, Se-jeong (2007-10-21). "Hungarian Amb.'s 3rd Term in Korea". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  6. Novak, Benjamin; Santora, Marc; Choe Sang-hun (30 May 2019). "After Budapest Boat Crash, Fading Hope for Survivors and a Criminal Inquiry". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  7. "Hungary boat crash: Captain of vessel involved in collision arrested". BBC News. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.