World  Business and Economic Analysis 



South Korea’s president is expected to arrive in Tehran today on a three-day visit aimed at boosting mutual ties, becoming the first South Korean president to visit Iran since the nations established diplomatic ties in 1962.
[Park hopes Seoul, Tehran will write new chapters in history]

According to Tehran-based English newspaper, Iran Daily, Park Geun-hye will be accompanied by Seoul’s biggest-ever traveling business delegation of over 230 executives during the visit. Local reports suggested the two countries are expected to seal deals worth $10 billion.

Officials in Seoul say the primary purpose of the visit is economic as Korean companies eye deals in areas such as construction, autos and electronics.

South Korea is also eager to boost its oil supply from Iran which used to account for 10% of its oil imports before sanctions were imposed.

Iran Daily made an interview with President Park ahead of her landmark visit to Tehran.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Question: In spite of several ups and downs, in general, Tehran and Korea have maintained a positive economic relationship and have not experienced any major diplomatic issues; yet, you are the first South Korean president visiting Iran. What is your assessment of the inconsistency between political interactions and economic and cultural relationship [of the two countries]? Why was the present moment chosen for the presidential visit to Iran?

Answer: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962, Korea and Iran have advanced economic cooperation and continued cultural exchanges. From the political perspective, however, bilateral interactions have so far been relatively less vibrant than would have been desired due to various reasons.

The recent conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal provided a valuable opportunity for our two countries to seek new ways to cooperate. The purpose of my visit is to further promote bilateral relations in the years to come. My visit is the first by a Korean president since the establishment of diplomatic relations, and I have high hopes that it will become a starting point for more active interaction between our two countries.

I hope our two nations will be able to write together new chapters in history for mutually beneficial cooperative ties not only in the economy but also in more diverse fields.

Q:Which delegations are accompanying the president on this visit to Tehran and what missions are they ensuing?

A:I will travel with official aides, including four key cabinet ministers, and a delegation of 230 business leaders from not only large conglomerates but also a number of strong small- and medium-sized enterprises. The government officials will hold separate talks with their Iranian counterparts and explore diverse measures to work together, such as through the signing of MOUs. The business delegation is scheduled to hold a Korea-Iran business forum and one-on-one meetings.

Notably, the companies represented in the delegation cover all lines of business that are deemed promising for economic cooperation with Iran, including infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and health care.

It is my hope that there will be in-depth consultations this time in areas where there is a potential for substantive cooperation so that a new framework for economic cooperation between our two countries will be forged.

Q:What is Seoul’s political stance regarding the nuclear issue since it was transferred to the UN until the sanctions were lifted? And on what grounds is this political stance founded?

A:I think it is very meaningful that the Iranian nuclear issue was resolved through negotiations between Iran and countries concerned. I hope the conclusion of negotiations on the nuclear issue will set a milestone in not only bringing about peace and stability in the Middle East, but also bolstering the international nonproliferation regime.

To that end, I believe it is important to faithfully implement international agreements, including United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States—plus Germany).

Q:How has Seoul’s political stance changed toward Tehran since the resolution of the nuclear challenge? Besides furthering the economic ties, can the South Korean president’s visit to Iran be considered a remarkable progress in political interactions as well?

A: We welcome the adoption of the resolution lifting sanctions against Iran. I hope that Iran will achieve new development and prosperity based on cooperation with the international community.

I expect this visit at this point to be an important opportunity to achieve great progress in our bilateral cooperation in all related fields.

I hope the future expansion of high-level political exchange, including meetings of foreign ministers on a regular basis, and the revitalization of the Korea-Iran Joint Economic Committee represented by ministers of commerce of the two countries, will help further accelerate our economic cooperation.

Q: Regarding foreign events such as terrorist crises in the Middle East, South Korea has generally not presumed any clear stance; does this mean that Seoul and Far East countries see themselves in a safety margin regarding terrorist issues and are generally pursuing an abstinence policy vis-à-vis issues connected to fighting terrorism?

A: It is truly shocking and deplorable that a countless number of innocent lives have fallen victim to the series of terrorist acts that have taken place in the Middle East and throughout the world, including in Paris late last year and more recently in Brussels and Lahore, Pakistan.

Terrorism constitutes a grave threat to peace and security of the international community, and Korea is no exception to this threat.

With an unequivocal stance that terrorist acts that indiscriminately take the lives of innocent civilians are a crime against humanity that cannot be justified under any circumstances, the Korean government has strongly denounced those acts and worked together with the international community to respond.

In the days to come, the Korean government will continue to make efforts together with the international community to deal with terrorist acts and violent extremism inciting terrorism.

Q: What is your assessment of the importance of Iran and its position in regional diplomacy? Can solving Iran's nuclear challenge through negotiation turn into an example in settling regional crises, such as Syria's problem, through the presence of disputing parties and great powers?

A: The Middle East is vital to maintaining global peace and security. I think that the efforts of the world, including nations in the region, for the settlement of sustainable peace in the region are very meaningful.

The region is currently faced with various political and economic challenges. As a key nation in the region, Iran can play a constructive role in addressing those problems. Even though it is difficult to directly compare Iran's nuclear issue with Syria's problem, Iran's role will be important since it can play a significant role in the region.

The Korean government hopes that a political solution will be promptly arranged to address regional instability and the humanitarian crisis caused by prolonged problems in Syria. In this connection, we will join the efforts of the international community.

Q: Would South Korea consider presuming a more active role in fighting terrorism? In this regard, how close is South Korea’s stance to Iran’s?

A: The Korean government has actively participated in international efforts to combat terrorism by implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions pertaining to terrorism, strengthening humanitarian assistance to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and reinforcing, through the United Nations, the capacity of nations vulnerable to violent extremism. We will continue such efforts in the future.

I am aware of Iranian efforts to fight and prevent violent extremism through the ‘World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) initiative,’ proposed by President Rouhani at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2013.

Terrorism knows no borders, thus it cannot be addressed by the power of one nation alone. All nations should actively join the international community’s efforts to combat and prevent terrorism.

Q: How did the global implementation of sanctions by South Korea impact commercial relations between the two countries? And how did it change the statistics of transactions?

A: International sanctions against Iran had a huge influence on trade relations between our two countries.

As of 2011, before the sanctions, bilateral trade totaled US$17.4 billion. However, the amount dropped to US$6.1 billion in 2015. A number of cooperative economic projects once underway in Iran were suspended, and companies and business people of both nations endured many difficulties.

Now the sanctions against Iran have been lifted, and Iran has returned to the international economic system. Bilateral economic cooperation is expected to recover soon to the level before the sanctions were imposed.

I hope that the two nations will closely cooperate based on the trust built so far.

Q: In this visit to Iran, besides meeting authorities, has any negotiation with the private sector been planned as well?

A: I will attend the Korea-Iran Business Forum now being prepared by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) and the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA). There, I will communicate with business leaders of both countries and discuss a wide range of issues on how to promote economic cooperation in the private sector.

I hope that Iranian participants will be able to share constructive ideas on how to promote substantive bilateral cooperation with the Korean delegation of 230 business leaders accompanying me on my visit to Iran. I hope that in the process, there will be discussions on potential projects not only in the area of traditional cooperation, such as infrastructure and energy, but also in future growth engines such as IT, health care and the environment.

Q: In post-JCPOA era, which section of Iranian market does South Korea consider as an economic target?

A: I hope that bilateral trade will not only recover but also diversify. In addition, I hope that we will be able to establish a close partnership to promote growth in various areas such as infrastructure and the industrial base as well as science and technology, which are necessary to rebuilding the Iranian economy.

Iran is expected to focus on improving its infrastructure in the days to come, including railways, roads, harbors, power generation and the electric grid, and water resources. I believe that since Korean businesses have taken part in various projects in Iran and proven their technology and credibility, there are good prospects for expanding bilateral cooperation.

Moreover, at present, Korea imports crude oil from Iran, and Iran imports raw and subsidiary industrial materials from Korea. There is high potential to diversify trade items between the two nations.

Considering the high level of science and technology and enthusiasm for education in Iran, there will be great synergy from mutual cooperation in new high value-added industries such as information and communications technology, health care and medicine, and new and renewable energy.

Q: In which oil projects would Korean oil companies prefer to invest? What makes Iranian oil project more appealing than the oil projects belonging to other countries in the Middle East?

A: I am aware that Iran is currently pushing forward various projects for economic reconstruction in the field of energy infrastructure in general, including not only projects for gas and oil production but also shipping infrastructure, oil refining plant, and integrated gasification combined cycle.

Korean companies have accumulated technology and experience in operating various energy infrastructures for the last 30 years. They are also interested not only in developing resources in Iran but also in investing in Iran’s energy infrastructure projects.

Korean enterprises have gained recognition from Iran for their commitment to given projects and ability to complete on time despite any hardship. On this basis of strong trust, I look forward to good cooperation in all fields related to resources and energy infrastructure development.

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South Korean companies are briskly moving to tap into Iran’s fast-growing construction and consumer markets, regarding the Iranian boom as a breakthrough to their prolonged business slump amid the global economic slowdown.
Local business executives expect that President Park Geun-hye’s visit to Iran, slated for May 1-3, as well as the dispatch of a large-scale business delegation to Tehran, will provide fresh momentum to their inroads into Iran, which is in the midst of rebuilding its infrastructure following the lifting of western sanctions, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The construction sector was quick to move, as major builders are eying large-scale deals with Iran.
Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company is pushing to secure a $500 million contract to build a hospital and medical facilities, a project initiated by Iran’s Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare. GS Engineering & Construction Co. and Daelim Industrial Co. have sent their staff in preparation for more deals.
Trade firms have also been rushing to Iran. SK Networks, which handled about 14% of Iran-bound exports last year, increased the number of its local staff from nine to 13, with a plan to expand its business.
Shipyards are among those keenly interested in business deals with Iran. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., a major shipyard here, is reportedly in talks with Iran’s state-run shipper IRISL on a deal to build three container ships for an estimated $350 million.

 1st Presidential Visit Since 1962
From May 1-3, President Park is to visit Iran for a summit with her Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani. The president is likely to be accompanied by more than 200 businesspeople from such fields as construction, energy, finance, shipping and steel.
Her visit, the first of its kind by a South Korean president since the two sides established diplomatic relations in 1962, comes as Iran has been emerging as a high-potential market after years of sanctions were lifted in January.
“Relevant government agencies are now making all-out efforts to ensure that the summit talks could lead to more orders and exports in the Iranian market,” a South Korean government official said on condition of anonymity.
With a population of over 80 million, the Middle East country abounds in natural resources, holding the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and the largest gas reserves.
In the past decades, South Korean builders had clinched deals worth $12 billion with Iran, but since 2009 there have been few deals, due mostly to the economic sanctions that the United Nations imposed on the country over its nuclear program in 2010.
A World Bank report earlier forecast that Iran’s economy will grow 5.1% and 5.5% this and next year, respectively, possibly turning around the negative growth seen in the previous two years.
South Korea once enjoyed active trading with Iran before the crippling sanctions were imposed on Tehran. Government data showed that South Korea’s exports to Iran hit an all-time high of $6.26 billion in 2012 but it had nearly halved to $3.76 billion last year.
Talks have been actively underway between the two countries to put their economic and business ties back on track in many areas.

  Construction Sector at Forefront
In late February, the two sides held a meeting of a joint commission for economic cooperation in Tehran and agreed to expand cooperation in infrastructure, including power plants, petrochemical factories, dams and railroads. This raised hopes that construction might be one of the key areas that could benefit from the opening of the Iranian market.
“South Korea will push for partnership and cooperation with Iran from a long-term perspective,” Joo Hyung-hwan, South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy, said at the meeting. He cited three major fields: Iran’s campaign to restructure its industry, the nation’s efforts to improve welfare services, including healthcare and education, and the joint development of social overhead capital.
In one of close to 300 potential deals discussed, POSCO Energy Co., a unit of South Korea’s top steelmaker POSCO, signed a memorandum of understanding with Iranian steelmaker PKP to build an off-gas power plant in the Middle Eastern country.
“In particular, the construction sector will likely get a boost from the opening of the social overhead capital in Iran,” said Hong Joon-pyo, a researcher at Hyundai Research Institute, a private think tank.
“We expect the president’s visit to resolve sensitive issues and break any logjam ... What the president has to do is to reduce risks and uncertainties facing businesses seeking to enter the market.”
During her stay in Iran, talks will likely be held about cooperation in the energy sector and more specifically the construction of hospitals and multipurpose dams and seaports there, sources said.
Bracing for increasing exchanges going forward, both sides are expected to discuss ways of building settlement systems using such currencies as the euro and the renminbi to facilitate bilateral trade, which has been hampered by sanctions, they added.
The corporate circle seems to be keenly interested in the president’s trip to Iran, with the sights trained on their own possible business opportunities.
The list of companies joining the delegation has not been finalized but the number will likely grow to over 300, industry sources said. It would be more than three times larger than a similar delegation led by the commerce minister who visited Iran in late February.
According to media reports, high-ranking officials from large business groups such as SK, Hanjin and KT Corp. have already expressed their intention to join, as they are seeking deals in each of their interested areas, namely energy, airline and telecommunications.

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All visitors to Iran must hold a passport valid for 6 months. The visa stamp fee is roughly 55.00 EUR for the passport.

You will need to obtain a reference number, which is similar to a letter of invitation, in order to apply for a visa to Iran.  To get a reference number you will need to contact a travel agency in Iran and fill out an application form which includes questions about the purpose and duration of your planned stay, where you will to visit while in Iran, date of previous visit to Iran (if any), your occupation, and which embassy or consulate you plan to pick up your visa from. It will take the agency you have applied for a visa through approximately 7 to 10 days to get you a reference number. This number must be presented to the Iranian Embassy or consulate to receive the visa to Iran.

 Please note that women must have their hair covered in their application photo.

The nationals of the following countries can receive a Visa on Arrival – although we advise you to obtain a visa before arrival for your own convenience, as sometimes VOAs may not be granted.








Czech Republic












Russian Federation





Saudi Arabia









New Zealand

Slovak (Rep.)


Bosnia Herzegovina


North Korea






South Korea





























Please note that processing a VOA will take around 30 to 45 minutes. You will need the number of a tour guide, the hotel you are staying at or person you are staying with handy because immigration will need to call and confirm your address before issuing your visa.

VOAs are not suitable for anyone who wishes to stay in Iran longer than two weeks.


Warning: Visitors not holding return/onward ticket could be denied entry.

Visa on arrival will not be granted to the nationals of the following countries:
















Please note that American, British and Canadian passport holders need to be accompanied by a guide while in Iran. These nationalities must discuss and devise an itinerary with a tour operator.


The nationals of the following countries do not need a visa as they have a visa-free regime with Iran.













In the event of overstaying your visa, you will be required to pay a roughly 7 USD penalty and a 10 USD fine for each day you have overstayed. This penalty must be paid at the Immigration and Visa Affairs Office; however, on holidays you can pay this fine at the airport.

You can get electronic visa by following link:

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