South Korea’s support for Israel

November 27, 2012

While diplomatic and trade relations between South Korea and Israel have a somewhat checkered past, the two countries have grown much closer during the current administration of Lee Myun-Bak, which is currently negotiating a free-trade agreement with Israel. And as Israel’s relationships with neighboring countries—especially Turkey—deteriorate, South Korea seems eager to step in and pick up the lost business opportunities, especially in arms sales. According to this article in the Jerusalem Post, South Korea is already conducting arms trades with Israel and Seoul is now planning “to make Israel one of its main arms suppliers alongside the United States.” In 2011, for instance, South Korea struck a $43 million deal with Israel for the purchase of advanced Spike NLOS (no line of sight) anti-tank rockets.

This increased trade, especially in arms sales, has raised concerned among those in the BDS movement, who are now accusing South Korea of legitimizing Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid against the Palestinian people.  According to one Korean group associated with the BDS movement, Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea:

Treating Israel as a normal state, as opposed to one that oppresses and denies the right to self-determination of Palestinians, sends the signal that its appalling human rights record can be tolerated. Israel must be treated for what it is, a pariah state.

PPSS has prepared this investigative report on the extent to which the South Korea government and South Korean companies deal with Israeli companies and institutions deeply embedded in the economy of the occupation. Among other things, they have found the following:

Hyundai Heavy Industries has been clearly implicated in the demolition of Palestinian homes. There is abundant photo evidence and testimony which demonstrates the use of Hyundai equipment in the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem.

The Korea Israel Industrial R&D Foundation, established in 2001 with the purpose of funding collaboration between Israeli and South Korean companies, has funded several projects involving Israeli companies known to be involved in the occupation, maintenance of illegal settlements, and the production of military technologies.

Bobcat Company is operated by Doosan Infracore International, an affiliate of Doosan Infracore Co., Ltd. Bobcat has been documented to supply equipment which is used in the construction of the same illegal settlements that South Korea condemns in the UN.

Ahava Cosmetics, which has been the target of an international campaign due to its exploitation of natural resources from the occupied West Bank, are widely stocked and sold in South Korea through online supermarkets such as: Gmarket, InterPark, Auction, and 11ST.

The full report can be found here. This is essential reading for South Koreans, who need to know how they are complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories through their tax dollars, their money spent on companies doing business in the West Bank, and  through the actions of their elected officials. With national elections less than a month away in South Korea, the informative report prepared by PPSS should be spread widely throughout the country.


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