Since the 1960s when the Republic of Korea first established diplomatic relations with African countries, the ROK has steadily developed its relations with Africa.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Cold-War ideological confrontation and the division of the Korean Peninsula led to a diplomatic rivalry between the two Koreas over the support of African nations on the international stage. The first visit by a ROK's President to Africa took place in 1982 - by President Chun Doo-hwan to Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria and Gabon.
In the wake of the Cold War in 1990, the ROK pursued "Northern Diplomacy" with less attention paid to diplomacy toward Africa.
In the 21st century, however, on the back of its new found of political stability and economic reform, Africa emerged as a new supplier of energy resources. Meanwhile, the ROK has embraced the goal of realizing the vision of a "Global Korea" by contributing more to the international community.
President Roh Moo-hyun's visit to three African countries - Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria - in 2006 marked a milestone in the ROK's foreign policy toward Africa. During his visit, he announced "Korea's Initiative for Africa's Development," pledging to triple the amount of the ROK's ODA to Africa over the next three years. It was as part of the follow-up measures to this that the Korea-Africa Forum was launched in 2006 to strengthen the partnership between the ROK and Africa.
The 2nd Korea-Africa Forum was held in Seoul 2009 in partnership with the African Union. During the second Forum, the ROK made a commitment to double its ODA for Africa by 2012 from the 2008 level.
President Lee Myung-bak visited three African states - South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia - in July 2011 to strengthen the ROK's engagement with Africa. With the visit by President Lee Myung-bak, the ROK's foreign policy for Africa has expanded to include sub-Saharan least developed countries and has taken the form of the pursuit of "win-win cooperation".
The ROK focuses on sharing its development experience with Africa and seeks to serve as a bridge between the developed and developing worlds, as demonstrated by the ROK's taking the initiative on the Development Agenda at the Seoul G20 Summit in 2010.
The 3rd Korea-Africa Forum, co-hosted by MOFA and the African Union, was held in Seoul on October 16-18, 2012. The participants adopted the "Seoul Declaration" and the "Action Plan" to ensure its implementation over the years 2013-2015.
President Park Geun-hye made state visits to three African countries - Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya - from May 25 to June 1, 2016, and also the African Union Headquarters. President Park was able to lay the ground for mutually beneficial cooperation with the three African countries and firm relationship with African Union on the occasion of this trip.
The 4th Korea-Africa Forum was held for the first time in Africa at the African Union headquarter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on December 6-7, 2016. The two sides adopted the “Addis Ababa Declaration” and the “Korea-Africa Framework of Cooperation 2017-2021” in which both sides agreed to enhance their cooperation in the areas of Economic Cooperation, Human Resources, Science and Technology, Youth development and Women's empowerment, and Cooperation on Peace and Security.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited Africa twice in July (Kenya and Tanzania) and December (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria) in 2018. Through his visit, the Korean government strengthened its policy toward Africa as part of its effort for diversification of diplomacy.
The Korea-Africa Foundation, the fourth affiliate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of ROK, was established to support private-public exchanges with Africa in June 2018.