The first Jewish settlement in South Korea was established
during the Korean War (1950-1953). Hundreds of American Jews joined
the armed forces in protest of the Communist invasion from the North.
During the war, Chaim Potok served as a U.S. Chaplain in Korea. It was from these experiences that
influenced his later novels, The Book of Lights and I am the Clay.
Most of the present Jewish community in South Korea
reside in Seoul. The community is comprised of U.S. military personnel and their families, business people from around the world, English-language journalists and teachers, and welcomes many visitors throughout the year. According to the 2012 American Jewish Yearbook, there are approximately 100 Jews living in South Korea. Most of the community’s membership is continuously fluctuating,
with the departure of some military companies and the arrival of new
soldiers. However, since the Korean War a few Jewish families have permanently
settled in South Korea and work in various businesses or as teachers,
but the majority of the community are transient military soldiers stationed
in South Korea until their time of duty is concluded.
A limited amount of imported, packaged kosher food is available at some of the larger department stores, such as Shinsegae, Costco, and E-mart.
Israel Aerospace Industries and South Korean manufacturer Hankuk Carbon entered into a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to manufacture vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in February 2015. The vehicle will have a takeoff weight between 441 and 661 lbs, and will be manufactured for South Korea's domestic sales market.
Israeli and South Korean officials announced on May 25, 2016, that they had reached a consensus and would begin negotiating a free trade agreement.
Currently, Israel and South Korea maintain full diplomatic relations.
The Israeli Embassy is located in Seoul.
Jewish Community of the Republic of Korea
GPO Box 7595, Seoul
Tel. 82 2 544 0834,
Fax. 82 2 796 3808
Yongsan Military Garrison
South Post Chapel
Friday night services are held weekly at 7pm. Jewish Activities include holiday celebrations, Passover seders, and High Holy Day services. Civilians should coordinate their participation in advance for access to military installation. Anyone who is not a regular attendee should plan to be at Yongsan Gate #10 by 6:45, with a photo ID, to be signed in to the military base.
The Chabad Jewish Community of the Republic of Korea
Rabbi Osher Litzman
Shabbat services held Fridays and Saturdays every week.
18th Fl., Cheonggye 11 Building
149 Seorin-dong, Jongro-gu
Tel: 82 2 3210-8500
Tomkins, Richard. “Israeli, South Korean firms forming JV for UAV production,” UPI(February 3, 2016);
“Israel, South Korea to Begin Free Trade Negotiations,” The Tower, (May 25, 2016)