After a brief period of nonalignment following its establishment in 1948, Israel supported the United States, the United Nations, and South Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War. In 1962 Israel and South Korea established full diplomatic relations, but in 1978 Israel closed its embassy in Seoul for budgetary reasons. In 1992 Israel reopened the embassy, and since then relations in all fields have improved considerably. The two countries’ economies became complementary, and in the 1990s Israel became South Korea’s main Middle Eastern market. South Korean structural reforms following its economic and financial crisis of 1997-1998 and the priority it gave to high tech and information technology have enabled the further expansion of bilateral relations.
Both South Korea and Israel achieved independence in 1948 and then had to struggle for international legitimacy. Israel declared its independence on 15 May 1948 on the basis of the UN resolution of 29 November 1947. South Korea1 declared its independence on 15 August 1948 after holding elections in its territory on 10 May 1948 according to a UN declaration and under UN sponsorship. North Korea2 declared its independence on 8 September 1948 after refusing to permit free elections in its territory under UN supervision.
The division of Korea into two rival and hostile states has influenced the major power blocs, and the local and international geopolitics, to the present day. The division originated with arrangements worked out between the United States and the Soviet Union in the last days of World War II. The U.S. suggestion of a partition along the 38th parallel made no military, geographic, topographic, political, or economic sense but was aimed at opening a second front against the Japanese.3 The Americans did not consult with Koreans in exile or with specialists on Korea when they recommended dividing the peninsula. The Koreans had a history of independence and unity under a ruling dynasty from 668 CE until the Japanese conquest of 1910. In vain the Koreans objected to General John Hodge, the head of the American garrison.4
The division of the peninsula was especially difficult for the South, which had trouble functioning independently since most of the heavy industry, mines, electrical production, and fertilizer industry were located in the North. In addition, the Communists fomented strikes, demonstrations, and unrest in the South. The U.S. army was scheduled to leave Korea by mid-1949, but remained because of Cold War considerations and a request by South Korea’s National Assembly to keep its troops there so as to train the South’s army and help maintain order. Since then, South Korea has regarded the presence of the U.S. army on its territory as a guarantee of its independence.
Israel’s Policy during the Korean War
Israel’s foreign policy underwent a change during the Korean War (1950-1953). In the first two years after its establishment, Israel maintained a stance of nonalignment. However, it became clear from the anti-Jewish attitude of the Communist bloc and especially Joseph Stalin that strengthening relations with the United States was the only way to safeguard Israel’s continued existence and long-term interests. Both Israel’s foreign and domestic policy during the Korean War reflected a growing U.S. influence, which has only deepened with time.
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion went one step further during the Korean War when he suggested that an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit be sent to join the UN forces fighting North Korea and the Chinese volunteers. A debate broke out in Israel over whether it should provide support to U.S. and UN policies given that Washington had made no such req uest. The leading opponent of sending an IDF unit was the political party Mapam, which was part of the governing coalition and openly favored North Korea.5 With the Achdut Ha’Avoda party, another member of the coalition, also against the measure, the government decided to limit its assistance to medical aid and food shipments.
In addition, Israel lent political support during the UN deliberations on whether its troops should cross the 38th parallel northward. In February 1951, the UN General Assembly condemned China as the aggressor and placed a boycott on certain strategic supplies to China. Here, too, Israel continued to side with the United States, the United Nations, and South Korea, though formal diplomatic ties with the latter were still more than a decade away.6 From the 1951 ideological debate between the Israeli parties until 1960, there were no initiatives on the question of relations with South Korea.
On 6 July 1950, just after the North attacked the South, Yaacov Shimoni, deputy director of Far Eastern affairs in the Foreign Ministry, wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett asserting that the South Korean government was corrupt and oppressive whereas the North Korean one seemed cleaner and was more efficient and popular.7 In August 1960, however, the Foreign Ministry decided to make every effort to establish full diplomatic ties with South Korea. This was after the fall of the dictatorial regime of Syngman Rhee, who resigned his post and went into exile in April 1961. Israel officially recognized South Korea on 9 July 1961.
Establishing Full Diplomatic Relations
The breakthrough on the question of diplomatic relations came in a meeting between Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir and South Korean foreign minister Choi Dok Shin at the UN General Assembly in 1961. It was Meir who suggested establishing full ties, and the Korean minister agreed on the spot.8 The step was endorsed by South Korean president Park Chung Hee, who over the years became a true friend of Israel. The official announcement on the establishment of relations was made simultaneously in Seoul and in Jerusalem on 10 April 1962.
At the same time, South Korea was negotiating diplomatic ties with Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. It seems that the conversation between the Israeli and South Korean foreign ministers hastened the decision-making process of the latter country regarding the opening of relations with Middle Eastern states.
North Korea exploited the South’s establishing ties with Israel to forge full diplomatic relations with seven Middle Eastern Arab countries,9 whereas it took South Korea five years to set up relations with only five Middle Eastern Arab states. South Korea decided for the sake of balance, and perhaps also to indicate to the Arab countries that its ties with Israel were less than full, not to open an embassy in Israel, citing budgetary restraints.
The opening of the Israeli embassy in Seoul, however, facilitated interactions in the areas of agriculture, water, education, and especially in security industries. The Korean army purchased the Uzi submachine gun, and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin visited Korea in 1966. South Korean agricultural and military delegations also visited Israel.
The Closing of the Seoul Embassy in 1978: Ramifications
The first oil crisis in 1973 and the second in 1979 influenced South Korea’s position toward the Middle East conflict. It repeatedly expressed support for Arab positions, the Palestinian people, and their right to self-determination. South Korea recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians and called on Israel to withdraw from the “occupied territories” including Jerusalem.
South Korean companies began intensive activities in the area of infrastructure in the Middle Eastern oil-producing countries. In the 1970s, the number of South Korean workers in Arab countries reached one hundred thousand. Yet, in 1978, when the power of the nonaligned bloc and the Arab oil-producing countries was at its peak, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan decided to close the Israeli embassy in Seoul, allegedly for budgetary reasons.
President Park Chung Hee sent a special emissary to Dayan requesting that he reconsider his decision, but Dayan refused. There is no question that his step was greatly welcomed by the Arabs and particularly the Palestinians, and by South Korean companies seeking contracts to develop infrastructure in the petrodollar states. Although South Korea’s diplomatic ties with Israel were not severed, they were now conducted through Tokyo. Israel’s ambassador to Japan served as the nonresident ambassador to South Korea.
In Israel, the response was not untypical. The Labor Party castigated the ruling Likud and Dayan who, though a Laborite himself, served in Menachem Begin’s government. Labor politician Abba Eban stated at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on 20 October 1986 that this was the first time in his personal history that Dayan had tried to save money. Foreign Ministry officials claimed ex post facto that they had opposed Dayan’s decision.
Undoubtedly, the closing of the Seoul embassy caused grievous political and economic harm to Israel. During the oil crisis period, South Korea became the world’s eleventh largest economic power. It exploited Israel’s blunder and adamantly refused to let it reopen the embassy. Bilateral economic relations continued in only a limited way that did not reflect the two countries’ potential. Korean companies refused to sell merchandise, including automobiles, to Israel even when this did not violate the Arab boycott regulations.
In 1987, major American Jewish organizations resolved to work against the discriminatory policies of the South Korean government and corporations. This was done via a committee headed by the activist Wally Stern that worked to centralize the efforts of all the American Jewish organizations in fighting the Arab boycott. Stern met several times with representatives of the South Korean government, with its diplomatic staff in Washington and New York, and with representatives of the South Korean Chaebols (conglomerates).10 The Koreans, however, rejected these approaches, claiming they did not want to endanger their ties with Arab countries on the eve of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. They were concerned that they would suffer economic consequences and that North Korea would exploit the reopening of the Israel embassy to deepen its relations with the Arab countries and the nonaligned bloc.
After the Olympics, however, there was still no change in South Korea’s position. Meeting followed meeting. The Koreans agreed to a small concession, enabling a minor Israeli diplomat stationed in Tokyo to work in South Korea for lengthier periods, beyond the regular visits to Seoul of the Israeli ambassador who was resident in Tokyo. The Koreans later agreed that the Israeli diplomat, while still registered among the Tokyo-embassy staff, could relocate to Seoul and work there.
With the outbreak of the first Gulf War in 1991, the South Koreans worried about the rise in oil prices. They worked to get contracts to repair war damage in Kuwait and Iraq. The Madrid Conference later in 1991 opened a political process between Israel and the Arabs. That same year, both Koreas became UN members. The United States made it clear to South Korea that it needed to improve its relations with Israel soon. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Gulf States decided to end the secondary and tertiary boycotts of Israel.
South Korea, thus, had no more excuses, and on 7 November 1991 it approved the reopening of the Israeli embassy, which took place in January 1992. The South Korean science and technology minister visited Israel in October 1993, the first such visit by a Korean minister. He signed agreements with the Ministry of Science, the aircraft industry, and the Weizmann Institute.
The South Korean embassy in Tel Aviv opened in December 1993 – two years after China and India established full relations. This, too, indicates how much South Korea was influenced by its economic ties with Middle Eastern countries and its fear that North Korea would exploit its resumed relations with Israel.
South Korean Economic Relations with Middle Eastern Countries
South Korean companies used the era of petrodollars to deepen their penetration of the Middle Eastern market. During the 1980s and 1990s, they signed significant building contracts with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, and Libya. Chaebols were involved in the construction of roads, railroads, ports and other maritime projects, setting up industrial complexes, and even housing construction. From 1976 to 1982, South Korean corporations signed contracts with Arab countries for a total value of $55.8 billion.11 In consideration of their Muslim hosts, the Koreans built tent cities in these countries for tens of thousands of Korean laborers, who did not bring their families with them. After the completion of the work, the area was cleaned and the workers returned to South Korea.
Following are some of the large projects undertaken by South Korean companies in Middle Eastern countries.
Egypt: A mega-contract was signed with South Korea in October 1995 aimed at populating the area around the Gulf of Suez. It included the construction of a free trade zone, a seaport, as well as tourist and community projects in an area of 250 square kilometers.
Libya: The South Korean firm Hyundai won a $5.65 billion contract to lay pipelines of some one thousand kilometers to bring water from the interior of the country to the coastal cities. Work began in 1996 and is expected to be completed in 2007.
Iran: According to Iranian sources there are various South Korean projects in the country, including the construction of electricity-producing plants, of chemical plants in Isfahan, the pumping of natural gas in Ranjan, and shipbuilding in Bandar Abass.
Apprehensions about North Korea
Apart from major economic considerations and the influence of the South Korean corporations involved in building infrastructure in the oil- and gas- producing Middle Eastern countries, South Korea had the political objective of improving its standing vis-à-vis North Korea. The South expended great efforts to convince the Middle Eastern countries to set up diplomatic missions in Seoul. Iraq and Iran complied in 1989, and Egypt only in 1995.
From the establishment of the nonaligned movement, Egypt had had excellent relations with North Korea, and especially since the Yom Kippur War when Korean pilots participated in air skirmishes over the Sinai and two were killed when Israeli pilots shot down their planes. North Korea also acted as a cover for Egypt when it sold weapons to both sides before, during, and after the Iran-Iraq War.
Improved Relations since Israel’s Embassy Reopened
Even during the low point in its relations with South Korea, Israel was helped by its positive image as a country that, while surrounded by enemies and fighting for its existence, coped with both military and terrorist threats and still maintained democratic values. Millions of Koreans having been exiled from their country during their history, Koreans felt empathy for Jewish suffering and for Israel’s struggle to achieve peace with security. One-third of South Koreans are Christians who know the Bible well and the places mentioned in it.
It was clear, however, that the reopening of the embassy would affect the form and content of the bilateral relations. Over time, South Korean-Israeli ties became an example of the importance of economic considerations, which since the 1990s have been the dominant factor in relations between states.
South Korean statistics12 show that from 1990 until the high-tech crash and the outbreak of Palestinian-Israeli hostilities in 2000, reciprocal trade grew sixfold from $148 million to about $1 billion. Until the reopening of the embassy, the scope of the trade was similar to that between Israel and a mid-size European country such as Spain. In ten years, however, South Korea years captured 15 percent of the Israeli market in imported automobiles and 20 percent of that for cellular telephones. Likewise, Israeli exports to South Korea of manufactured goods and security items grew. The Korean Organization of Industry and Exports opened an office in Israel. For the first time, South Korea also permitted the importation of Israeli citrus fruit and other agricultural products.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited South Korea from 14-17 December 1994, arriving in Seoul right after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. He found a common language with President Kim Yung Sam, and this immediately led to enhanced interactions in all fields, especially high tech and security. During the visit Rabin and Kim also signed an agreement to begin direct air traffic between the two countries whenever the volume of the traffic warranted this, as well as a cultural agreement.
Slightly earlier, on 21 November 1994, the two countries signed an accord on scientific and technological cooperation. On 21 March 1995, they mutually canceled entry-visa requirements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Korea in 1997, and Korea’s prime minister Kim Yung Peel reciprocated in 1999. An agreement on import duties was signed in 1997, followed by accords in technology and agriculture and one to encourage investments.
Many Israeli companies operate in South Korea. During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, they were represented by businessman Shaul Eisenberg and the Koor firm. The Zim shipping company also had an active presence in Korea. During the 1990s, additional companies opened offices there or appointed local representatives. These include:
- Netafim in the field of agricultural sprinklers
- Israel Chemicals with its subsidiary companies Dead Sea Works and Dead Sea Bromine
- Makhteshim Agan in the field of chemicals
- Teva in the field of pharmaceuticals
- In technology, Tadiran Kesher; ECI Telecom; Orbotech; and Scopus, which received a contract to build the infrastructure for digital broadcasts for the Korean network that broadcast the Mondial soccer games in 2002
In addition, Iscar, the laser precision blade developer, acquired the Kiopong company at the cost of $130 million. This will permit Iscar not only to deepen its penetration of the Korean market through the products of the joint company, but also to export products to Northeast Asia and especially China. Kiopong has a factory in China that produces metal wire.
Additional Israeli companies operating in South Korea are Elisra, Elscint, Orda, and others.
Effects of the 1997-1998 Financial Crisis
In 1996, South Korea became a member of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the club of industrialized nations. A year earlier, the Asian economic and financial crisis had derailed South Korea’s rapid progress toward liberalization and higher living standards. South Korea was obliged to enact structural reforms, to diversify its economy, and to deal with the 1.2 million people who lost their jobs in 1998. The reforms transformed the economy. Almost half the Chaebols went bankrupt, changed ownership, or disappeared. The economy started to grow again, as from 1999 South Korea paid back its debt to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some of the drastic reform measures were relevant to Korean-Israeli relations.
One of these steps was intended to increase internal consumption so as to resuscitate domestic demand. In addition, liberalization measures encouraged foreign investment and enabled foreign investors to acquire Korean firms to such a degree that by 2005 foreigners owned 42 percent of registered companies in South Korea. The growth in trade transformed South Korea into a regional hub of commerce, finance, and research and development, and made it the entranceway for foreign concerns for all of Northeast Asia. Whereas in the past most of South Korea’s trade was with the United States and Japan, by 2003 47 percent of it was with East Asia, as China became the chief partner.
High-Tech and Intelligence Industries as the Main Growth Factor
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, South Korea is not satisfied with being the world’s leading shipbuilder, second-ranking manufacturer of home electrical appliances, fifth-ranking producer of passenger cars and petrochemicals, and sixth-ranking steel producer, but seeks to become the regional center in finance, transportation, and technological development especially in the intelligence industry. South Korea views its geographical location as enabling it to be the conduit to the Chinese and Japanese markets in addition to the Korean Peninsula, and probably also to southeastern Russia in the future.
The high-tech areas receiving the most attention in South Korea are robotics; cars of the future that run on energy substitutes; the next generation of semiconductors, digital television and radio broadcasts; the next generation of cellular telephones; biomedical products; and especially items for the security industry. This presents an opportunity to expand Israeli-South Korean cooperation in high tech generally and in intelligence and information protection particularly, in biomedics, and especially in the defense industry.
Both South Korean and Israeli businessmen have been realizing that their countries have complementary economies. Israel has developed products, methods, and technologies in the areas of computers, telecommunication components, electronics, electro-optics, biotechnology, and in security-related fields including information protection. South Korea has shown that it has the capacity to manufacture and market products, along with a motivated professional workforce and a developed infrastructure including services. Especially vital is the marketing capacity of Korean corporations.
Korean companies import programs from Israel, with their components and especially their integrated circuits, and fuse these together in final products for the home and export market, including items that in turn are exported to Israel. The more than 1.5 million South Korean cellular telephones sold in Israel containing Israeli components exemplify this process.
Another example is the incorporation of the electro-optic equipment of the Israeli El-Op company in satellites that South Korea has launched into space. Microchips, telephone components, computer programs, and security equipment represent the majority of Israeli exports to South Korea, apart from chemicals. Most of the imports consist of passenger cars and spare parts, home electrical appliances, and cellular telephones. The Koreans expect this economically harmonized trade between the two countries to double within the coming decade.13
The Korea-Israel Joint Fund for Research and Development
An agreement was signed in 2001 to establish a joint R&D fund. It is an active fund run independently without any government intervention, and is one of eight bilateral funds designated for joint investment in companies, between Israel and other bodies, for the purpose of developing new products. Like the other funds, however, Korea-Israel employs government financing to invest in R&D projects in companies from both countries.14
Three projects approved by the foundation in 2002, which received funding of about $500,000 each, may serve as examples: developing a digital wireless video system; developing optical translation services for the Korean language; and an automobile tracking system based on short-range communication that permits the locating of vehicles, the mapping of public institutions and hotels, as well as informational services for drivers.
A Unique Shipping Agreement
In 2001, Israel and South Korea signed a shipping agreement that included recognition of Israeli vessels that for political reasons do not fly the Israel flag. It provides preferred status for loading and unloading, including the area of security equipment for ships on both sides. The agreement also includes reduced fees and streamlined bureaucratic procedures.
This is the widest-ranging shipping agreement Israel has ever signed. Arrangements are in force in Pusan, the third busiest port in the world, where Israeli ships load goods bound for Vladivostok and especially for ports in northeastern China.
Main Middle Eastern Market
Within a decade, Israel became South Korea’s main market in the Middle East. This is not limited to high tech and commerce. Korean firms participate in infrastructure tenders in Israel without announcing it beforehand to the press, and with no fanfare after winning tenders. The Korean procedure is to meticulously prepare the tender, carry out the work and publicize only what serves their interests.
For example, a South Korean firm constructed a power station for the Dead Sea Works to produce magnesium. Another case was the building of a jetty to unload coal near the Rotenberg power station in Ashkelon. The terminal is two kilometers from the coast and enables unloading six to seven million tons of coal per year. Hyundai Chaebols constructed the jetty in accordance with an agreement with the Israel Electric Company.
On the other side, the Israeli firm Power Design won a South Korean government tender in partnership with Samsung in data communication. According to the agreement, the Israeli firm will supply the infrastructure to provide electric power via communication cables for half a million wireless Internet access points throughout South Korea. The Israeli technology eliminates the need to install electrical cables in addition to communication cables. Samsung will provide the equipment. At the start of the twenty-first century, this was the world’s largest Internet tender. Power Design meshed well with the Korean policy of promoting wireless integration, and the partnership with Samsung was the key to success.
Korean delegations regularly come to Israel for technological fairs. An agreement was signed in 2002 between Israel’s Technion and South Korea’s Institute for Electronic Technology. Delegations from South Korea’s business world, including risk-investment firms, also visit Israel.
Drones manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries have been sold to South Korea, including advanced drones of the Harpy type in a deal worth $10 million.
Israeli-South Korean relations encompass many other areas. Fifteen thousand South Koreans visited Israel in 2001, some 50 percent less than in 2000. However, South Korean tourists, mostly Christian pilgrims, continued to come to Israel in 2002 and 2003, and their numbers increased in 2004 and 2005. Since the 1990s, there have been more South Korean tourists in Israel than from the rest of Asia combined.
In addition, there are exchanges in culture, cinema, and art. For example, the Korean National Theater with more than one hundred participants performed the play King Oro at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem in June 2002 at a time when most foreign troupes stayed away. The JUMP Ensemble, a dance and martial arts group, performed to great acclaim at the 2005 Jerusalem Festival. Many Korean films are shown at Israeli film festivals, commercial cinemas, and on television. The Korea Fund supports Korean studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which include Korean history, language, government, society, economy, and foreign relations. The Hebrew University is the only one in Israel offering Korean studies.
Mutual Interests in the Age of Globalization
It seems that the determining factor for the South Korean government and business sector is the national interest in harmonizing the directions of economic development with the goals of globalization and the knowledge revolution of the past ten years. This is the background for the far-reaching proposal by both South Korean and Israeli economic actors to initiate negotiations for a bilateral agreement on a free trade area. South Korea has so far signed a free trade agreement with Chile and is conducting free trade negotiations with Singapore, Canada, EFTA, Japan, and China.
It was South Korea’s two presidents of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries who set the tone for the bilateral relations. During his election campaign the latter president, Kim Yung Sam, who was in office until 2003, said Israel could serve as an example to South Korea of a country that maintained democracy and the rule of law despite war and terror. His predecessor, President Kim Dai Yung, told a Knesset delegation in 1999 that South Korea was interested in integrating Israel into the Northeast Asian economic region, especially in the areas of high tech industry and information services that would play the key role in the Northeast and Southeast Asian economy in the decade to come.
Not infrequently, South Korean officials and high tech promoters suggest that Israel make South Korea the portal for its investment activity in Northeast Asia. Several Israeli companies, mostly in the field of security exports, have responded by transferring their regional offices from Taiwan to South Korea. The establishment of a free trade zone would accord with the current foreign trade policy of both Israel and South Korea and would be a step toward the deepening of economic cooperation, at first on the bilateral and later on the regional level.
President Roh Moo-Hyun, who assumed office in February 2003, has continued his predecessors’ policies toward Israel. This was manifested during the first visit by an incumbent South Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki-Moon, in June 2005 when he spoke of improving relations in every area.
The tenures of Presidents, Kim Dai Yung, Kim Yung Sam and Roh Moo-Hyun have encompassed the years of South Korean economic crisis and of upheaval in the Middle East. Nevertheless, this period has also seen the growth of Israeli-South Korean relations. Cautious optimism about continued relations in this decade is based on the well-established, wide- ranging common interests that both sides have built with great effort.
Both countries’ political considerations in the context of globalization will influence the relations in the future. Although high tech will continue to play a key role, Israel also has an interest in increasing South Korean tourism and in making South Korea a gateway for its investment in Northeast Asia. Most likely there will also be efforts to enhance cooperation in the fields of culture, science, and education.
* * *
*This article was translated from Hebrew by Shalom Bronstein.
1. ROK ( Republic of Korea).
2. DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).
3. Don Obersdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (London: Little, Brown, 1988), pp. 6-8.
4. Bruce Cummings, The Origins of the Korean War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 127.
5. Al Hamishmar, the Mapam newspaper, published an article on 25 May 1950 in which it characterized the United States as inciting war and South Korea as its satellite. See Alon Levkowitz, Korea, History and Politics (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2003) (Hebrew).
6. Moshe Yegar, The Long Journey to Asia (Haifa: University of Haifa, 2004), p. 240 (Hebrew).
7. Ibid., p. 321.
8. Ibid., p. 322.
9. Lecture presented by South Korea’s ambassador to Israel, Yu Myung-Hwan, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 11 January 2005, p. 26.
10. Yegar, Long Journey, p. 325.
11. Levkowitz, Korea, History and Politics, p. 100.
12. Lecture by South Korean ambassador, p. 23.
13. Ibid., p. 24.
14. The other funds are Bird Fund with the United States, Eureka and the Sixth Plan with the European Union, the British-Israel Fund, Canada-Israel, the Israel-Korea fund known as KORIL, and Singapore-Israel.
* * *
DR. YAACOV COHEN completed his doctorate in economics at the University of Vienna while employed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He has held various foreign assignments: ambassador to Spain, 1992-1995; to Japan and South Korea, 1985-1988; to Venezuela, 1981-1985; chargé d’affaires in Turkey, 1980-1981; minister (economy) at the Israeli embassy in Belgium and deputy head of Mission to the European Union in Brussels, 1972-1976. In Jerusalem: deputy economic director of the Foreign Ministry, 1988-1992; head of the foreign trade desk of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 1976-1980;. Since 1995, Dr. Cohen has been senior lecturer in East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University.