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Saúl Gopar Ensáztiga y Galia María Morales Hernández.

Mexico and South Korea at the subnational level

- Diversifying Mexico's international relations in the Asian continent is a task that must be considered from various perspectives, including local governments.

Mexico and South Korea at the subnational level

Within the bilateral relations that Mexico maintains with different countries of the world, the relationship with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea, stands out for different aspects, including commercial and cultural. So much so that, in recent months to the publication of this writing, the talks of a Free Trade Agreement between these two countries have had more force and interference in the public agenda.

Due to the closeness between these two nations, this article aims to reflect on Mexico-Korea relations at a subnational level, in order to consider the role of Mexican local governments and the benefits they can obtain from the strengthening of bilateral relations.

In order to provide a brief context on the link between South Korea and Mexico, the fact that, in 1962, both nations formally established their diplomatic relations, is highlighted. In that same year, South Korea opened its Embassy in the then Federal District. For its part, Mexico maintained relations with the peninsular country through the concurrent Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and it was not until 1978 that Mexico opened its Embassy in Seoul.

Since the establishment of these relations, both countries have come to sign multiple bilateral agreements in different areas, among which are:

  • Educational and Cultural Cooperation Agreement (1966)
  • Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement (1989)
  • Agreement on Tourism and Telecommunications (1999)
  • Agreement to avoid double taxation (2000)
  • Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (2000)
  • Agreement on Technology and Innovation (2016)
  • Clean Energy Cooperation Agreement (2016)
  • Agreement on the fight against international organized crime (2016)
  • Agreement on Higher Education, Health and Social Security (2016)
  • Agreement on Intellectual Property (2016)

The foregoing reflects that both nations have worked hard in the areas of trade, technology, tourism, education, science, security and culture, for some years now, with trade and technology being the most prominent in this bilateral relationship.

In relation to local governments in Mexico, both federal entities and municipalities, it is worth mentioning that technology companies from Korea, such as KIA Motors, Samsung, Hyundai, LG Electronics and POSCO, have established operations in different states of Mexico. strengthening bilateral ties at the national level, as well as at the local level.

In turn, the case of the relationship between Yucatan and South Korea stands out, thanks to the solidarity shown by the Mexican state to welcome Korean migrants in 1905. Among the proofs of the great esteem that exists between Yucatan and the peninsular country, stand out the inauguration in 2017 of the Republic of Korea avenue, and in 2019 the official promulgation of Korea Day; both made in the city of Mérida.

Likewise, Mexico City is another ally not only of the Korean federal government, but also of the local government, Seoul, since both cities cooperate through various consultative groups such as the World Organization of Electronic Cities and Local Governments (World e- Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments) and the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF).

In order to deepen and reflect the cooperation at the subnational level between Mexico and South Korea, the following table is presented, which describes and identifies the main Local Diplomacy activities that have taken place between both countries. The information presented is based on the data provided on the page of the embassy of the Republic of Korea in Mexico, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the section on Local Registered Institutional Agreements, as well as the Local Diplomacy bulletins of the Mexican Relations International Center:

Mexico and South Korea at subnational level

< td>Economic< td>Multi-issue< td>Execution Agreement of the Cooperation Agreement in the health area between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Ministry of Health and Health Services of Durango.< td>Health< td>Meeting between the CDMX Secretary of Public Security and Ambassador Sang-Il Kim, to request the favor of paying more attention to the security of concentrated places of Korean residents such as Centro, Tepito and Zona Rosa and of Korean companies in Mexico.  
Federative EntitySubjectProject description< /strong>Actors involvedDate
State of MexicoState BrotherhoodTwinning Agreement between the Province of Kyonggi and the State of Mexico in issues of investment, trade, technical assistance and technology transfer, cultural exchange and promotion of tourism.Province of Kyonggi, Republic of Korea; Free and Sovereign State of Mexico of the United Mexican StatesMay 1996- ended
JaliscoState Brotherhood Twinning Agreement between the State of Jalisco and the Kyongsangnam-Do Province of Korea with the objective of promoting and developing exchange programs in areas such as industry, education, agriculture, technology and environmental protection. Government of the State of Jalisco; Government of Kyongsangnam-Do Province of the Republic of KoreaMarch 1997- automatic renewal
State of MexicoTwinningDeclaration of Sister Cities between the city of Anyang and the City of Naucalpan de Juárez to cooperate in culture, sports, education and tourism.    Government of Anyang, Korea; Government of the City of Naucalpan de Juárez, State of MexicoAugust 1997- validity not stipulated
Baja CaliforniaBrotherhood agreement between the city of Mexicali and the city of Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do in order to establish ties in the areas of economy, commerce, science and technology , culture and sports.Local government of Mexicali, Baja California; Gumi Government, Gyeongsangbuk-do, KoreaNovember 1998- ended
ColimaState BrotherhoodTwinning agreement between the State of Colima and the Province of Chungchongbuk-Do, for the strengthening of Public Administration, economy, commerce, culture, sports, tourism, science and technology, education, investment and others areas.State of Colima; Chungchongbuk-Do Province, Republic of KoreaNovember 1999- validity not stipulated
JaliscoExchange of officialsBasic Agreement of Principle for exchange between the Provincial Government of Kyeonsangnam-Do and the State of Jalisco for the exchange of government officials.Government of Jalisco; Kyeongsangnam-do Provincial Government, KoreaJuly 2000- completed
OaxacaJoint Declaration on the Relations of Friendship and Cooperation between the State of Oaxaca and the Province of Kangwon in matters of culture, sports, tourism and economy.Kangwon-Do Provincial Government, Korea; State Government of OaxacaJuly 2000
QuerétaroTwinningProtocol Act for the Establishment of Twinning Relations between the city of Yeosu, Jeollana-do state of the Republic of Korea and the city of Santiago de Querétaro, of the state of Querétaro. For cooperation in economy, trade, agriculture, education, investment and culture.Yeosu local government, State from Jeollana-do, Korea; Government of the city of Santiago de QuerétaroSeptember 2002- validity not specified
JaliscoMulti-thematicAgreement entered into in the Plan for favorable cooperation in administrative matters, tourism, culture, technology, environmental protection, education and sports; between the Government of Jalisco and the Gyeongnam Province of Korea.Government of Jalisco; Gyeongnam Province of KoreaNovember 2002
YucatánHealthConstruction of the Korea-Mexico Friendship Hospital.Government of Yucatán; Government of Korea2005
PueblaCulturalScientific cooperation agreement, sport of rural development and cultural exchange between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Puebla.Government of theState of Puebla; Government of South KoreaJanuary 2006- completed
QuerétaroTwinning Twinning Agreement between the Municipality of Querétaro de Querétaro de Arteaga and the City of Yesou to cooperate in trade, investment, business, culture, tourism, municipal development, human resources, education, science and technology, and the environment.Municipality of Querétaro in the State of Querétaro Arteaga; Yeosu City of Jeolla Province of the Republic of KoreaAugust 2007- completed
Durango Multi-thematicCooperation Agreement on Health, Public Safety, Sports and Urban Architecture, between the Durango State Government and the Government of the People's Republic of Korea.Government of the Free and Sovereign State of Durango; Government of the People's Republic of KoreaJanuary 2008- ended
PueblaAgricultureTwinning agreement between the State of Puebla and the People's Republic of Korea, to cooperate in the areas of science, technology, art, culture, sports, construction, urban administration, traditional medicine and gastronomy.< /td>Government of the State of Puebla; Government of the Democratic People's Republic of KoreaApril 2008- completed
State of MexicoEconomic< /td>Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the State of Mexico and the Import and Export Bank of Korea in order to generate Integral Development projects in the State of Mexico.Government of the State of Mexico; Korea Import and Export BankApril 2008- completed
OaxacaScience and sportsScientific and Sports Collaboration Agreement between the State of Oaxaca of the States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; their areas of cooperation are in health in terms of acupuncture and traditional medicine.State of Oaxaca; Democratic People's Republic of KoreaJune 2008- completed
OaxacaScience and sportProtocol extending the Sports and Scientific Collaboration Agreement. Oaxaca state; Democratic People's Republic of KoreaJuly 2009-completed
YucatánCultural Construction of the Korean Immigration Commemorative Museum.Government of Yucatán; Government of South Korea2010- current
DurangoMulti-issueAgreement of Cooperation in Health, Public Safety, Sports and Urban Architecture, between the Durango State Government and the Government of the People's Republic of Korea.Government of Durango State; Government of the People's Republic of KoreaSeptember 2010- completed
Mexico City Multi-issueMemorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Federal District, (United Mexican States) and the Metropolitan Government of the City of Seoul, (Republic of Korea), on the Promotion of Assistance Cooperation Technique, Exchange of Information and Experiences.Government of the then Federal District; Seoul Metropolitan City GovernmentNovember 2010- completed
DurangoHealthGovernment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Ministry of Health and Health Services of DurangoMay 2011- completed
DurangoSportsSpecific Execution Annex in the area of Sports between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the State Institute of Sports of the State of Durango. For the support, promotion and encouragement of sports activities.Government of the Democratic People's Republic from Korea; State Institute of Sports of the State of DurangoJanuary 2014- completed
QuerétaroCollaboration Agreement in the Field of Health and Telemedicine between the Decentralized Public Organization; Health Services and Seoul National University Hospital, KoreaHealth Services of the State of Querétaro; Seoul National University HospitalApril 2016- Completed
Mexico City DonationDonation from Samsung Electronics for 22 million pesos (mdp) and thousands of household appliances for the victims of the 2017 earthquake.Samsung Electronics Company  September 2017
Michoacán EconomyMeeting between Ambassador Sang-Il Kim and the Secretary of Economic Development of Michoacán, Jesús Melgoza Velázquez, to hear about the situation of progress in the Special Economic Zone and discussed ways of economic cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Michoacán.  Embassy of South Korea; Secretary of Economic Development of MichoacánFebruary 2018
Mexico CityPublic securityMexico City Secretary of Public Safety; Embassy of South KoreaMay 2018
Mexico City and Nuevo LeónEducation Celebration of Educational Fairs in the cities of Mexico City and Monterrey, in which different Korean universities presented themselves with the aim of publicizing their study plans and through agreements with the Korean Government to invite students to carry out academic exchanges.Government of South Korea, Universities such as: Korea University, Pukyong National University, Pusan National University , Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Sungkyunkwan University, among others; Government of the State of MexicoGovernment of Nuevo LeónOctober 2018
Mexico CityStrengthening RelationsAgreement to Strengthen Strategic Cooperation, in order to strengthen the relationship and address issues of mobility, security, and digitization of dependencies.Government of Mexico City; Government of Seoul2019
Nuevo LeónStrengthening RelationsSignature of collaboration agreement between the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Institute of Vehicle Control of Nuevo León for the validation of driver's licenses issued in Korea, in order to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of the Asian country who live in the entity.  Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Government of Nuevo León March 2019
Nuevo LeónSecurity Donations by the Korean Embassy to the government of Nuevo León of security equipment such as light sticks, electronic whistles and joint surveillance, to improve security in the communities where Koreans reside.  Embassy of South Korea; Government of Nuevo LeónMay 2019
Yucatán and CampecheDonationsDonation from Samsung Electronics of white goods to civil organizations in Mérida and Campeche.Samsung Electronics company; Governments of YucatánGovernment of CampecheAugust 2019
SonoraStrengthening Relations Visit of Ambassador Suh Jeong-in to Hermosillo, to meet with the mayor and the General Director of Conservation of CEDES, in order to seek ways to develop bilateral cooperation.Ambassador Suh Jeong; Government of Hermosillo, SonoraCEDES General Director of ConservationNovember 2020
PueblaStrengthening RelationsMeeting between the governor of the state of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa and the Ambassador of South Korea in Mexico, Suh Jeong in, where they raised the idea of integrating a trade agreement between Puebla and South Korea in order to build a solid relationship to develop commercial, economic, cultural and educational projects.Government of Puebla; Embassy of South KoreaAugust 2021
JaliscoInvestmentMeeting between the General Coordinator of Strategic Growth and Economic Development ofJalisco and Ambassador Suh Jeong-in, with the aim of strengthening dialogue and friendship and commercial ties between Jalisco and Korea to promote Korean investments and companies in Jalisco territory.Government of Jalisco; Ambassador Jeong-in SuhGeneral Coordinator of Strategic Growth and Economic Development of JaliscoOctober 2021

    CEMERI (2021). Boletín Diplomacia Local Mexicana Agosto 2021. Recuperado de:

    CEMERI (2021). Boletín Diplomacia Local Mexicana Octubre 2021. Recuperado de:

    Embajada de la República de Corea en México. (2020). Entrevista del Embajador (Alcaldes de México) Corea del Sur, aliado de gobiernos locales en México. Recuperado de:

    Gobierno de México SRE (2022). Acuerdos interinstitucionales registrados de los gobiernos locales. Recuperado de:

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Gopar, Saúl. “México y Corea del Sur a nivel subnacional.” CEMERI, 9 sept. 2022,