• South Korea Visa Exemption

South Korean visa for Vietnamese citizens

Visa requirements:, south korea tourist visa requirements:.

  • Holding Vietnamese passport that is valid for six months beyond the period of the intended stay in South Korea.
  • Proof of onward travel (departure) from South Korea.

If you are looking for South Korea visa information, such as available types of visas, or how to apply from Vietnam, we recommend you visit or contact the embassy or consulate of South Korea nearest your place of residence.

  • Hanoi : The Embassy of South Korea in Hanoi, Vietnam (Working hours: Close now )
  • Ho Chi Minh City : The Consulate General of South Korea in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Working hours: Close now )

Visa application requirements

Tourism Statistics Chart

The line chart shows the number of visitors from Vietnam traveling to South Korea from 2008 to 2018.

References: UNWTO.org , World Bank and multiple sources. (This data is for informational purposes only. Please see our disclaimer page for more information.)

South Korea & Vietnam comparison

South Korea's area is approximately 97,230 km2 (37,540 sq mi), while the area of Vietnam is approximately 310,070 km2 (119,718 sq mi). This means Vietnam is 3.19 times bigger than South Korea.

As of June 2024, South Korea's population is ~51.5 million people - 49,427,949 fewer people than the population of Vietnam.

We have highlighted South Korea & Vietnam’s relative positions on world's map for your reference.

Frequently asked questions, answered

How many visitors from vietnam travel to south korea in one year.

The number of visitors from Vietnam visiting South Korea in 2019 was approximately 553,731.

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  • Seoul to Hanoi: 2927.88 km (1819.30 mi)
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This page was last updated on: June 2024

South Korea Visa Requirements

Documents you need to entry to the republic of korea.

If you’re planning a trip to South Korea, you need to understand the entry requirements .

South Korean entry requirements depend on:

  • Your nationality
  • How long you’ll stay
  • The reason for your visit

You can use the information on this page to find out what you need for your trip.

Documents You Need to Travel to South Korea

To travel to South Korea, all foreign nationals need:

  • Visa or K-ETA

You cannot board a flight or ship to South Korea without these essential documents.

korea requirements travel

Korean Entry Requirements for Your Nationality

Passport holders from more than 100 countries can travel to South Korea with a K-ETA . It’s quicker and easier to obtain an electronic travel authorization than a visa.

These are some of the countries eligible for the K-ETA. The maximum number of days you can stay in South Korea with a K-ETA is shown.

  • Andorra (30)
  • Argentina (30)
  • Australia* (90)
  • Austria* (90)
  • Belgium* (90)
  • Brazil (90)
  • Brunei (30)
  • Canada* (180)
  • Colombia (90)
  • Costa Rica (90)
  • Croatia (90)
  • Cyprus (30)
  • Czech Republic (90)
  • Denmark (90 days in 180-day period)
  • Dominica (90)
  • Dominican Republic (90)
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  • France* (90)
  • Germany* (90)
  • Greece (90)
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  • Honduras (30)
  • Hong Kong* (90)
  • Hungary (90)
  • Iceland (90 days in 180-day period)
  • Ireland (90)
  • Israel (30)
  • Italy* (90)
  • Jamaica (90)
  • Japan* (90)
  • Lithuania (90)
  • Luxembourg (90)
  • Malaysia (90)
  • Mexico (90)
  • Netherlands (90)
  • New Zealand* (90)
  • Nicaragua (90)
  • Norway (90 days in 180-day period)
  • Poland (90)
  • Portugal (90 days in 180-day period)
  • Romania (90)
  • Russia (60/90 days in 180-day period)
  • San Marino (30)
  • Saudi Arabia (30)
  • Serbia (90)
  • Singapore* (90)
  • South Africa (30)
  • Spain* (90)
  • Switzerland (90)
  • Taiwan* (90)
  • Thailand (90)
  • Turkey (90)
  • Tuvalu (30)
  • United Arab Emirates (90)
  • United Kingdom* (90)
  • United States* (90)
  • Uruguay (90)
  • Venezuela (90)

(*)The K-ETA is not currently mandatory for nationals of this country but you can still apply. If you have a K-ETA you do not need to submit an Arrival Card allowing for a faster border crossing.

If your country is not on this list, contact us to find out whether you are eligible.

South Korea Tourist Visa Requirements

Foreigners need to apply for a tourist visa for South Korea if they are not eligible to travel with a K-ETA . A tourist visa for Korea is required if the visitor:

passport tourist visa

Is not from a visa-exempt nation

days tourist visa

Wishes to stay longer than the time permitted with the ETA (usually 90 days)

travelticket tourist visa

Does not meet all of the other ETA requirements for South Korea

In these cases, visa-free entry is not permitted. Tourists must instead begin a South Korea travel visa application through the embassy or consulate.

Nationalities that need a tourist visa for South Korea

If you are not eligible for K-ETA, you need a tourist visa to travel to South Korea short term.

Some of the countries with visa requirements for Korea include:

  • Philippines

Travelers who need a visa should contact the Republic of Korea embassy or consulate.

It takes longer to apply for a South Korea visa than an ETA. If you need a visa based on your nationality, get started with your application well ahead of your trip.

Passport requirements to travel to Korea

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay in South Korea. You should also have at least 1 blank passport page for the entry stamp.

If your passport is about to expire, you should renew it before applying for a K-ETA. The electronic travel authorization is only valid with the passport you use to apply. The details on your ETA must match your passport exactly.

What You Need to Stay in South Korea Long-Term

You need to apply for a visa to go to South Korea for a long stay. All foreign nationals need a South Korean visa to stay long-term, regardless of nationality.

There are several different types of South Korean visa available including for:

  • Medical treatment
  • Work and job seekers
  • Study and training
  • International trade

You’ll need to meet all the visa requirements to apply. You must enter Korea for the purposes stated on your visa and abide by the visa conditions.

Health Requirements for South Korea

You need to meet the health requirements to travel to South Korea. Speak to a medical professional a few weeks before your trip and get any vaccinations you may need for Korea.

COVID-19 health requirements for South Korea have ended. You do not need vaccine certificates or a pre-departure test to travel .

Entering South Korea: Immigration Requirements

As well as your passport, you need these documents to clear Korean immigration.

  • Arrival Card : You do not need to submit an arrival card if you’re traveling with a K-ETA . This entry requirement applies to visa holders only.
  • Customs declaration form : All passengers need to fill out a customs declaration form for South Korea. If you’re entering Korea with your family, you can submit just one form. If you’re arriving in Korea via Incheon International Airport (ICN) Terminal 2 or Gimpo International Airport (GMP) you can complete the customs declaration online before you depart.

Note that holding these documents does not guarantee entry to South Korea. Korean border officials have the right to grant or deny entry based on immigration laws.

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S.Korea’s visa-free policy for Vietnamese travelers remains unchanged: KTO

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S.Korea’s visa-free policy for Vietnamese travelers remains unchanged: KTO

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in Vietnam has confirmed that the visa-free policy intended for Vietnamese tourists entering South Korea at Yangyang International Airport in Gangwon Province will continue to be applied as normal.

The Gangwon administration has made no change to its entry rules for Vietnamese tourists who meet all current requirements so that they can continue traveling to South Korea using visa exemption, the KTO announced on Monday.

The announcement came after South Korea’s airlines Fly Gangwon informed its travel agents and partners on October 22 about its temporary suspension of receiving registrations by Vietnamese passengers for travel to the Yangyang International Airport from October 23 to 31.

The carriers said the suspension was aimed at serving “re-arrangement of the granting of visas to Vietnamese travelers making entry at the airport after the trial period.”

KTO commented the statement by Fly Gangwon, which has recently launched direct flights between Gangwon’s Yangyang County and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, has caused misunderstandings about the visa-free policy offered by the Gangwon authorities and South Korean government in general to Vietnamese travelers.

The visa-free policy has been applied since June 1, 2022 to Vietnamese travel groups of five members upward who enter South Korea at Yangyang International Airport and to tours that last a maximum of 15 days organized by designated travel firms.

This policy is part of the efforts by South Korea to lure international visitors to the country again after more than two years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam is among the potential markets for South Korea’s tourism, so the South Korean government and Gangwon authorities have created the most favorable conditions for visitors from the Southeast Asian nation, according to KTO.

Currently, visitors to South Korea arriving at Yangyang International Airport, as well as Jeju International Airport on Jeju Island, enjoy the visa-free policy and they are not subject to COVID-19 testing or declaration of their COVID-19 vaccination history.

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South Korea

Travel Advisory July 24, 2023

South korea - level 1: exercise normal precautions.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise normal precautions in South Korea.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to South Korea.

If you decide to travel to South Korea:

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.   
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .   
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for South Korea.   
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel.   
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .    

Embassy Messages

View Alerts and Messages Archive

Quick Facts

Must be valid at time of entry

One page per stamp

No – From April 1, 2023, to December 31, 2024, the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) is not required for US citizens traveling for short-term business or tourism purposes.

Embassies and Consulates

U.s. embassy seoul.

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03141, Korea Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 (from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114)  DSN:721-4114 Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101 Email:  [email protected]

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu Busan 47209, Korea Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731 Email:  [email protected]

The Embassy and Consulate are closed on weekends and on  American and Korean holidays .  Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +82 (2) 397-4114.

Destination Description

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

  • You must have a valid U.S. passport to enter Korea. From April 1, 2023, to December 31, 2024, the  Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA)  is not required for US citizens for stays of 90 days or less that are for tourism or business purposes.
  • Visa required for all other purposes, including employment, teaching English, and for stays longer than 90 days.

Exceeding your authorized stay or not possessing a valid visa may result in detention and fines.

  • In the event of an overstay, apply for a visa extension from the  Korea Immigration Service (KIS)  before attempting to leave the country. Also consult with KIS regarding changes in visa category.

Military Personnel/DOD and their families on orders:

  • Consult  DOD Foreign Clearance Guide , and follow all instructions.
  • Enter Korea with DOD identification and travel orders.
  • Do not transit other countries such as China without a passport and appropriate visas.
  • Family Members/Dependents of Military Personnel/DOD on orders must present upon arrival passports valid for at least six months .

U.S. Government Executive Branch personnel on official business and DOD personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy  (Including family members/dependents):

  • Employes assigned to Mission Korea should enter Korea with a diplomatic or official passport and a diplomatic or official Korean visa obtained through their sponsoring agency.  Check with your sponsoring agency about other requirements. 
  • TDY visitors traveling to Korea for up to 90 days on diplomatic or official passports do  not  require Korean visas and do  not  require a K-ETA. TDY visitors must obtain country clearance using  Department of State's eCC system  or  DOD APACS system .

HIV/AIDS Restriction:  The Department of State is unaware of any such entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Korea.

  • Visit the  Embassy of Korea  website for current visa information. Please read our  Customs Information page .

COVID-19 Requirements :

  • There are no COVID-related entry requirements for U.S. citizens.
  • Travel regulations and restrictions are subject to change, sometimes with little notice. You should review the information available on your nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate’s webpage before traveling.

Safety and Security

Public Demonstrations:  Demonstrations and rallies are common in South Korea, particularly near the U.S. Embassy, Seoul City Hall, and areas surrounding military installations. You should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or rallies. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

North Korea (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK):  An armistice agreement, monitored by the United Nations, has maintained general peace on the Korean peninsula since 1953. Tensions occasionally flare up because of provocative acts by North Korea, including ballistic missile and nuclear tests and limited armed incursions into ROK-held territory. Some provocations have escalated into geographically limited skirmishes. South Korea routinely conducts military training exercises and civil defense drills. North Korea often issues strongly-worded and threatening messages, frequently in connection with these exercises. Please see our  Fact Sheet on North Korea .

Weather-related Events:  Heavy rains and flooding may occur during the June - August monsoon season or the May - November typhoon season. See general information about natural disaster preparedness at the U.S.  Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  website.

Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  ( STEP ):  To receive security messages by email and make it easier to locate you in an emergency, register in STEP. 

If the Embassy becomes aware of any specific and credible threat to the safety and security of U.S. citizens, we will inform you through our website, social media, and email.

Crime:  For most visitors, South Korea remains a very safe country. Common crimes occur more frequently in major metropolitan areas, tourist sites, and crowded markets.

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to local police.

Violent crime is not common; however, remain vigilant:

  • Exercise caution in crowded entertainment, nightlife, and shopping districts.
  • If traveling at night, consider traveling in groups.
  • Use legitimate taxis or public transportation only.

Victims of Crime:  Call 112 for emergency assistance or to report a crime to local authorities. Call 02-397-4114 to contact the U.S. Embassy. We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care;
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to police;
  • Contact relatives or friends on your behalf;
  • Explain Korean judicial procedures in general terms;
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution;
  • Help you find accommodations and flight arrangements to the United States;
  • Replace a lost or stolen passport.

Sexual Assault:   The Embassy regularly receives reports of sexual assault from U.S. citizens. Most cases involved young women assaulted by acquaintances they met on social media, dating, or messaging apps. Alcohol is often involved, and Korea’s low overall crime can create a false sense of security.  Specialized hospital units and police are available in South Korea to assist victims, however services in English and responsiveness to the crime are not always consistent. In general, sex crimes are not punished as harshly in South Korea as in the United States and the road to prosecution is a challenging one for victims.

Domestic Violence:  Victim’s assistance resources or battered women’s shelters exist in Seoul and other urban areas but may be limited in rural areas. Most are government administered and require a police referral. Call 112 for emergency assistance or 1366 to reach Korea’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline. Victims may also contact the Embassy, tel. (+82) 2-397-4114.

Lost or Stolen Passports:  If your passport is stolen, file a report at the nearest police station.

Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if widely available.  It is against South Korean law to purchase these goods and against U.S. law to bring them into the United States. The  Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice  has more information.

Avoid fraud and scams:  See  Department of State  and  FBI  websites for more information.

Tourism:  The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on  insurance providers for overseas coverage .

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  While in Korea, you are subject to local laws. If you violate Korean laws, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Be aware that:

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, fines, and deportation.
  • There is little tolerance for illegal drugs.
  • If you mail illegal drugs to/ from Korea, you will be prosecuted.
  • Commercial disputes may lead to criminal charges being filed under local laws.

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on  crimes against minors abroad  and the  Department of Justice  website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask officials to notify the Embassy. See our  webpage  for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Dual Nationality and Military Conscription:  Dual national males (including U.S. service members) may be subject to compulsory military service. If you have family ties to South Korea, consult the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate or the  Korean Military Manpower Administration  regarding potential citizenship obligations  before entering South Korea .

Passport Seizures and Exit Bans:  If you are involved in a criminal investigation or commercial dispute, authorities may seize your passport and/or block your departure. While we may reissue a passport, we cannot lift an exit ban.

Exit Permits:  Exit permits are not generally required. However, if a parent requests a travel restriction on his/her child, Korean authorities may prevent that child from departing even when traveling with the other parent. As of June 1, 2020, foreigners who are long-term residents of the ROK are required to obtain a re-entry permit four business days prior to departure from Korea. The permits are available online through an e-application at the  www.hikorea.go.kr  website.

International Child Abduction:  See our website for information related to the  prevention of international child abduction . 

Working in South Korea:  If working, including teaching or modeling, you must enter with the appropriate work visa. It is not possible to change your visa status without leaving the country. If you begin work without the appropriate visa, you may be arrested, fined, and/or deported. If you are working without a valid work permit and get into a contractual dispute with your employer, you have little legal recourse.

Students:  See our  Students Abroad  page and  FBI travel tips .

Women Travelers:  See our travel tips for  Women Travelers .

ROK National Security Law:  Authorities may detain, arrest, and imprison persons believed to have committed acts intended to endanger the “security of the state,” including statements deemed to praise the political system and/or officials of the DPRK. 

Customs Regulations: There is strict enforcement of regulations on importing and exporting items such as firearms, narcotics and prescription drugs, non-prescription health supplements, radio equipment, and gold. Importation of materials deemed to be obscene, subversive, or harmful to the public peace is also restricted.

  • Amphetamines are illegal in Korea. Do not bring amphetamines or other prescription narcotics into the country without obtaining advance permission in writing from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. See the  U.S. Embassy Seoul, Health Information page .
  • Traveling with Pets: See  Korea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency  website.

See the  Korean Customs Regulations website for complete information.

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized. Korea is a conservative country in regards to LGBTI issues. However, there are an increasing number of LGBTI-oriented clubs, festivals and NGOs advocating for LGBTI issues. The ROK National Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation, but there are no laws specifying punishment for persons found to have discriminated on this basis. Same-sex marriages are not recognized. Korean citizens can legally change their gender identity.

See   our  LGBTI Travel Information  page and section 6 of the  Department of State's Human Rights report  for further details.

Mobility Issues:  Korean law mandates access to transportation, communication, and public buildings. Cross walks typically have audio and visual signals. Older buildings and streets are generally less accessible than modern ones. Metro cars and buses in Seoul offer priority seating for the disabled and most metro stations have elevators. Metro platforms include Korean Braille information. Contact individual bus companies and subway associations for specific information. Foreign residents are eligible for disability assistance from local ward offices; assistance varies by ward.

Quality of Care : Western-style medical facilities are available in most large cities. However, not all doctors and staff, are proficient in English. A  list of hospitals  and medical specialists who speak English is available on our website. For emergency ambulance service dial 119. Ambulance services are widely available. For information on medical evacuation from South Korea, please see the State Department’s brochure on  Air Ambulance/MedEvac/Medical Escort Providers . 

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Verify your health insurance coverage before traveling overseas. See our webpage for information on  insurance providers for overseas coverage . In most cases, health care providers will require payment in advance of treatment or will not release a patient until hospital bills are paid. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to include coverage for medical evacuation.

Medication:  Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Most prescription medications, except psychotropic types, can be obtained at Korean pharmacies (brand names often differ). Local pharmacies will require a prescription from a Korean doctor.

Update  vaccinations  recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

For further health information go to:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Roads are well-paved, traffic signals functional, and most drivers comply with basic traffic laws. South Korea has a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than the United States. Causes of accidents include excessive speed, frequent lane changes without signaling, running red lights, aggressive bus drivers, and weaving motorcyclists. It is recommended that you photo document any traffic accidents.

Be aware that motorcyclists may drive on sidewalks, and drivers do not always yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

Traffic Laws include:

  • International driving permit (or ROK license) is required for all drivers.
  • Left-hand turns prohibited except with green arrow.
  • Seat belts and car seats are mandatory.
  • Motorcycle passengers must wear helmets.
  • Automobile drivers are presumed to have some fault in accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Expect long waits at police stations while police investigate any incidents.
  • Police may take your passport or detain you during an investigation.
  • Even if negligence is not proven, criminal charges may be filed.
  • Blood-alcohol content of 0.03% or higher is considered legally intoxicated.
  • Police regularly set up DUI checkpoints. Drivers are required to submit to breathalyzer tests; refusal can result in cancellation of your license.

For information about driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to our  Road Safety page . You may also visit the  Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) website.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Republic of Korea's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the ROK's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the  FAA's Safety Assessment Page .

Maritime Travel:  Mariners planning travel to South Korea should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s  Maritime Security Communications with Industry Web Portal . Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website  and as a broadcast warning on the  National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s website .

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

South Korea was cited in the State Department’s 2022 Annual Report to Congress on International Child Abduction for demonstrating a pattern of non-compliance with respect to international parental child abduction. Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in  South Korea.  For additional IPCA-related information, please see the  International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA )  report.

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Visa Traveler

Exploring the world one country at a time

South Korea Tourist Visa: Requirements and Application Process

Published: March 27, 2024

A South Korea tourist visa is required for all nationalities that are not visa-exempt. The official code for the ordinary tourist visa is C-3-9. You can start the visa application online but you must visit a South Korean embassy in person to submit the documents.

Quick summary:

  • Who requires it: All nationalities that are not visa-exempt (or not eligible for K-ETA)
  • Validity: 3 months for single-entry; 6 months for double-entry
  • Allowed stay: up to 90 days for single-entry; up to 30 days for double-entry
  • Processing time: 4 to 14 days
  • Fee: 40 USD for single-entry; 70 USD for double-entry

Applications are reviewed by the specific embassy, hence the requirements, costs, and processing time differ significantly between countries.

Read the South Korea Visa Guide for general information on various visa options for tourists, requirements, eligibility and application process.

Table of Contents

Understanding south korea tourist visa.

South Korea Visa Sample

Tourist visa validity

The single-entry tourist visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

The double-entry tourist visa is valid for 6 months.

The multiple-entry tourist visa can be valid for up to 5 years but has additional requirements including prior travel history to South Korea and as such isn’t an option for first-time travelers.

Duration of stay

Single-entry visas allow up to 90 days but double-entry visas only up to 30 days at a time.

Allowed number of entries

There are three types of South Korean tourist visas – single-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry.

Allowed ports of entry

You can enter South Korea from any international airport or seaport with a tourist visa.

When to apply

The processing time varies greatly between South Korean embassies. In general, allow at least a few weeks for the issuance of a tourist visa after your first visit to the embassy. 

  • Earliest: 3 months before traveling
  • Latest: 3 weeks before traveling

Tourist visa extension

Extensions to the tourist visa are possible but not easily granted. You must apply in person at the Seoul Immigration office. Extensions are approved only on a case-by-case basis.

Tourist visa benefits

South Korean tourist visa also offers VISA-FREE travel to 7 other countries. Read the  VISA-FREE countries for South Korea visa  for more details.

South Korea Tourist Visa Requirements

South Korea Visa Required Countries

Who requires a tourist visa

All non-visa-exempt nationalities require a tourist visa for South Korea.

If you are visa-exempt, you do not require a tourist visa instead you require a K-ETA to travel to South Korea.

Documents required

The following documents are required for the tourist visa.

  • Passport valid for more than 6 months
  • Completed Visa Application Form (Form #17)
  • Two passport-size photos (1 digital photo for online form)
  • Bank statement for the last 3-6 months

Depending on the nationality and the embassy where you apply, you may be required to submit additional documents such as the below.

  • Proof of employment (employment letter, salary slips, etc.)
  • Income tax returns (1-3 year ITR depending on whether employed or self-employed)
  • Proof of long-term residence (if applying from a country other than the country of citizenship)
  • Proof of property ownership
  • Family book or marriage certificate

Photo requirements

The photo for the tourist visa must meet the following requirements. 

  • Must be of size 35×45 mm, with the face taking 25×35 mm
  • Must be against a plain, evenly lit and light background, without any marks or creases
  • Must have taken within the last 6 months
  • Mist be looking directly at the camera
  • No sunglasses or hats, except for medical/disability reasons
  • Facial features are not covered from the bottom of chin to the top of forehead
  • Full face is visible without any shadows
  • Full face, eyebrows, eyes, nose, or mouth must not be covered, but covered ears are permitted.

The visa fee varies significantly depending on the type of visa, the location where you apply and your nationality.

In most general cases, the single-entry visa fee is 40 USD, double-entry is 70 USD and multiple-entry is 90 USD. The fee is payable in local currency in cash.

In some countries, South Korea has outsourced visa processing to Visa Application Centers such as VFS Global. Visa Application Centers charge their own service fee for handling the visa applications.

The fee is higher, lower, or exempted for certain nationalities. You can find the complete list on the Korea Visa Portal . 

Processing time

Applications are reviewed by a particular embassy so processing time is not universal. Some embassies process tourist visas in 4 days, others in 7 days, some in 14 days or more.

The official guidance is to apply at least 3 weeks in advance of traveling to allow sufficient time for the issuance of your tourist visa.

In countries where the application process is outsourced to Visa Application Centers, express processing is available for an additional fee.

Tourist Visa Application Process

South Korea Tourist Visa Application Portal

How to apply for South Korea tourist visa

South Korea’s tourist visa application process is partially online. You will have to fill out an online form but you will have to visit the embassy in person after to submit your documents. 

Below is the general process of applying for a South Korean tourist visa at the embassy. 

  • Step 1: Complete the e-form online

Step 2: Visit the diplomatic office

Step 3: wait for visa processing, step 4: receive visa issuance email/collect passport, step 1: complete the e-form online.

Follow the below steps to fill out the e-form online.

  • Go to the Korea Visa Navigator page and select your country. Pick “Short Term visit” and “90 days or less”.
  • Scroll to the bottom and select “Ordinary Tourist C-3-9”.
  • You will see multiple streams. The first stream on the list is for travelers visiting South Korea for tourism. Click on “e-Form (Visa Application)”.
  • Read through the procedure guidance page and click “Fill out the e-Form”.
  • Select the South Korean diplomatic office that you intend to visit, upload a face photo and complete the form.

After you complete the form, print the file with the barcode on it. You will receive an email with your application number. If you displace the barcode file, you can find it by entering your details on the Check Application Status page .

Prepare the printed visa application form (the one with the barcode) and attach copies of the other required documents. 

Visit the South Korean embassy or consulate that you picked during the application.

Formally submit your application in person at the embassy. Pay the visa fee in cash.

Check your email regularly in case the embassy requests additional documents. The visa process can take anywhere from 4 to 14 working days depending on the embassy. 

Receive Confirmation of Visa Issuance or Visa Grant Notice. Retrieve it online and print it before traveling to South Korea. 

If the embassy or consulate of South Korea still issues visa stickers in your country, you will have to collect your passport or request to mail it to you.

NOTE South Korean embassies no longer issue visa stickers inside passports. Stickers are still being issued in countries where visa application centers handle the process but this is going to be phased out soon.

Entry Procedure at the Border

Before going to the immigration counters, make sure to complete the paper Arrival Card. The airline staff will give you one onboard or you can grab one from the immigration. 

Present your passport along with the Visa Grant Notice and the Arrival Card to the immigration officer. Get stamped in and enter South Korea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the minimum bank balance required for south korea visa.

There is no official statement regarding the minimum bank balance by South Korean immigration. It will depend on your circumstances and nationality.

That being said, anything less than 2,500 USD may be considered too low to sustain a trip to South Korea. 

Can I apply for South Korea tourist visa online?

You can begin the application process online by filling out the application form (form #17). However, the next steps require you to visit a South Korean embassy in person. Applications completely online are not possible.

Is a cover letter required for South Korea tourist visa?

A cover letter is not required for the South Korea tourist visa. But you can still submit one if you need to explain your circumstances in detail.

WRITTEN BY THIRUMAL MOTATI

Thirumal Motati

Thirumal Motati is an expert in tourist visa matters. He has been traveling the world on tourist visas for more than a decade. With his expertise, he has obtained several tourist visas, including the most strenuous ones such as the US, UK, Canada, and Schengen, some of which were granted multiple times. He has also set foot inside US consulates on numerous occasions. Mr. Motati has uncovered the secrets to successful visa applications. His guidance has enabled countless individuals to obtain their visas and fulfill their travel dreams. His statements have been mentioned in publications like Yahoo, BBC, The Hindu, and Travel Zoo.

PLAN YOUR TRAVEL WITH VISA TRAVELER

I highly recommend using these websites to plan your trip. I use these websites myself to apply for my visas, book my flights and hotels and purchase my travel insurance.

01. Apply for your visa

Get a verifiable flight itinerary for your visa application from DummyTicket247 . DummyTicket247 is a flight search engine to search and book flight itineraries for visas instantly. These flight itineraries are guaranteed to be valid for 2 weeks and work for all visa applications.

02. Book your fight

Find the cheapest flight tickets using Skyscanner . Skyscanner includes all budget airlines and you are guaranteed to find the cheapest flight to your destination.

03. Book your hotel

Book your hotel from Booking.com . Booking.com has pretty much every hotel, hostel and guesthouse from every destination.

04. Get your onward ticket

If traveling on a one-way ticket, use BestOnwardTicket to get proof of onward ticket for just $12, valid for 48 hours.

05. Purchase your insurance

Purchase travel medical insurance for your trip from SafetyWing . Insurance from SafetyWing covers COVID-19 and also comes with a visa letter which you can use for your visas.

Need more? Check out my travel resources page  for the best websites to plan your trip.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER We are not affiliated with immigration, embassies or governments of any country. The content in this article is for educational and general informational purposes only, and shall not be understood or construed as, visa, immigration or legal advice. Your use of information provided in this article is solely at your own risk and you expressly agree not to rely upon any information contained in this article as a substitute for professional visa or immigration advice. Under no circumstance shall be held liable or responsible for any errors or omissions in this article or for any damage you may suffer in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the information in this article. Please refer to our full disclaimer for further information.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please refer to our full disclosure for further information.

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Yoon concludes Vietnam trip, expands economic and security ties

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center left, and first lady Kim Keon-hee, left, view a photo album gifted by Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, center right, and first lady Phan Thi Thanh Tam, right, after their breakfast meeting at a restaurant near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi Saturday, the last day of the Korean leader’s three-day state visit. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center left, and first lady Kim Keon-hee, left, view a photo album gifted by Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, center right, and first lady Phan Thi Thanh Tam, right, after their breakfast meeting at a restaurant near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi Saturday, the last day of the Korean leader’s three-day state visit. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong hold a joint press briefing after their bilateral summit at the presidential palace in Hanoi on Friday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong hold a joint press briefing after their bilateral summit at the presidential palace in Hanoi on Friday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, second from right, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, far right, congratulate Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, on his birthday at the state dinner at a convention center in Hanoi Friday evening. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, second from right, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, far right, congratulate Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, on his birthday at the state dinner at a convention center in Hanoi Friday evening. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee meets a young patient at a local hospital cooperating with Smile for Children, a nonprofit organization for children with facial deformities, in Hanoi Saturday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee meets a young patient at a local hospital cooperating with Smile for Children, a nonprofit organization for children with facial deformities, in Hanoi Saturday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, speaks with youths at the Korea-Vietnam Digital Future Generation Dialogue at the Samsung Electronics R&D Center Vietnam in Hanoi on Saturday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, speaks with youths at the Korea-Vietnam Digital Future Generation Dialogue at the Samsung Electronics R&D Center Vietnam in Hanoi on Saturday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, waves, alongside first lady Kim Keon-hee after arriving on the presidential jet at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, wrapping their six-day trip to Paris and Hanoi on Saturday evening. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, waves, alongside first lady Kim Keon-hee after arriving on the presidential jet at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, wrapping their six-day trip to Paris and Hanoi on Saturday evening. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

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Vietnam - favourite destination of Korean tourists in 2023

Vietnam - favourite destination of Korean tourists in 2023 ảnh 1

Seoul (VNA) – In the first 11 months of 2023, more than 7.3 million tourists from the Republic of Korea (RoK) visited Vietnam, an increase of 220% compared to the same period last year, according to the RoK’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Destinations including Phu Quoc, Da Lat, and Nha Trang are favoured by Korean travelers thanks to reasonable costs and diverse tourism activities. According to the ministry, during the period, more than 1 million Korean people traveled from the Incheon to Nha Trang – Vietnam’s coastal resort city. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the city attracted more than 735,400 Korean visitors.

Vietnam - favourite destination of Korean tourists in 2023 ảnh 2

Meanwhile, the number of Korean visitors to Phu Quoc Island - which is considered "Vietnam's Jeju island", also increased sharply. In the first 11 months of this year, nearly 300,000 Koreans traveled on the Incheon-Phu Quoc route and more than 61,000 others on the Incheon-Da Lat route. Korean and Vietnamese airlines also quickly expanded flight networks to meet the demand for travel to emerging destinations in Vietnam. On December 24, the RoK's Jin Air launched its Phu Quoc-Incheon flights. Earlier this month, Vietnamese budget airline VietJet Air launched a new route from Busan to Phu Quoc island. Low-cost airline Jeju Air has also opened Icheon-Da Lat flights from December 20 with a frequency of seven flights per week, becomingthe first RoK domestic airline operating regular flights to the famous resort city in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong./.

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Vietnam serves 12.6 million international tourists in 2023

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Lotus season comes alive in Ninh Binh province

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Nha Trang Sea Tourism Festival 2024 kicks off

Vietnam among cheapest countries to retire around the world

Vietnam among cheapest countries to retire around the world

Foreign tourists visit Da Nang city (Photo: VNA)

Vietnam to diversify tourism products to attract more visitors

Representatives from tourism businesses join a field trip to survey and develop tours connecting Thanh Hoa and Houaphanh provinces. (Photo: baothanhhoa.vn)

Thanh Hoa plans to promote tours connecting with Lao province

The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap recreates the night market of the Dinh Yen sedge mat weaving village to create a unique tourism product for tourists. (Photo: VNA)

Dong Thap revives mat night market to attract tourists

A Vietjet aircraft. Illustrative image

Vietjet increases flights between Nha Trang and Busan

Da Nang tourism sees positive recovery signals

Da Nang tourism sees positive recovery signals

Summer tourism activities go vibrant

Summer tourism activities go vibrant

Foreign visitors take a cyclo tour around Hanoi's Old Quarter. (Photo: VNA)

More promotion activities to be held abroad to attract foreign visitors

The Nuong Village Night Festival showcases the distinctive cultural features of the Dao Thanh Y people to visitors to Yen Tu (Photo: baoquangninh.vn)

Yen Tu: Where heritage meets modern tourism

The pedestrian street around Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular destination, drawing both domestic and international visitors. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi eyes 7 million foreign tourists by 2025

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Quang Ninh sees tourism boom as summer starts

The first group of tourists traveling on the Nanning - Ha Long route passes through the Bac Luan II Bridge customs gate. (Photo: Mong Cai Sub-department of Customs)

Passenger vehicles allowed to pass through Bac Luan II Bridge in Quang Ninh

  • Travel Planning Guide

A Travel Comparison for Vacations, Honeymoons, and Tours South Korea vs. Vietnam

Should you visit south korea or vietnam, which country is cheaper, vietnam or south korea.

Should I visit South Korea or Vietnam? This is a popular question for many travelers. By figuring out which country is more expensive, you'll understand where you'll get more bang for your buck. A week in Vietnam can cost you about $414 (per person), while a week in South Korea may cost you around $748. These differences become even more noticable if you plan to spend a longer time in the country. 10 days , two weeks , or even one month of travel to Vietnam or South Korea can really add to your travel budget.

Accommodation is often cheaper in Vietnam compared to South Korea ($26 vs. $48). Budget travelers usually stay in less expensive hostels and guest houses, while nicer hotels often appeal to families and upscale travelers.

Compare hotel prices here: South Korea Hotel Prices and Vietnam Hotel Prices .

Or, compare hostel and guesthouse prices between Vietnam and South Korea to find the cheapest accommodation here: Vietnam hostels and South Korea hostels .

When comparing food in South Korea vs. Vietnam they are not just different in cuisine, but also in price. Meal and restaurant costs in South Korea ($28) are often cheaper than Vietnam ($14).

  • South Korea Prices Vietnam Prices
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day South Korea $ 107 Vietnam $ 59
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person South Korea $ 48 Vietnam $ 26
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room South Korea $ 97 Vietnam $ 52
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc. South Korea $ 16 Vietnam $ 12
  • Food Meals for one day South Korea $ 28 Vietnam $ 14
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc. South Korea $ 26 Vietnam $ 13
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day South Korea $ 11 Vietnam $ 7.65
  • Water Bottled water for one day South Korea $ 2.10 Vietnam $ 1.31

How much are flights to South Korea and Vietnam?

The price of a plane ticket may help you decide which country you should visit.

Find a Hostel in South Korea or Vietnam

Hostels, guest houses, and locally owned B&B's are often the cheapest form of accommodation.

Related Articles for South Korea

Related articles for vietnam, when is the best time to visit south korea and vietnam.

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Halong Bay, Vietnam

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  • Vietnam Visa Requirements
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New policies from 15th August 2023

Vietnam grants e-visas for citizens of all countries and territories with 90-day stay duration and valid for multiple entry.

Citizens of 13 coutries enjoying unilateral visa exemption can stay in Vietnam up to 45 days.

Vietnam visa exemption

Vietnam's new visa policy effective from 15th August 2023 extends stay duration for 13 countries enjoying unilateral visa exemption from 15 days to 45 days, regardless of passport type and entry purpose. The 13 coutries include: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Russia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Belarus.

Vietnam Visa Exemptions

Below is the full list of 25 countries +Kazakhstan that are exempted from visa requirement:

Brunei, Myanmar, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, The UK, The Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Chile, Panama.

VIETNAM ELECTRONIC VISA (E-VISA) 

From 15th August 2023, Vietnam grants e-visas for citizens of all countries and territories with 90-day stay duration and valid for multiple entry.

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Why Is Putin in Vietnam?

President Vladimir V. Putin is keen to maintain the longstanding military ties between Russia and Vietnam, as Hanoi has developed deeper bonds with Washington.

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vietnamese visit korea

By Sui-Lee Wee

Reporting from Bangkok

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia wrapped up a state visit to one ally, North Korea, and moved on to another, Vietnam, arriving early Thursday hoping to shore up crucial partnerships in the region as he wages a protracted war in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine has left him isolated from the West, and his need for munitions to fight that war has pushed him closer to North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un. The two leaders have bonded over their common historical opponent, the United States, and on Wednesday revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pledge between their nations.

In Vietnam, by contrast, Mr. Putin met with officials who have recently forged deeper bonds with Washington. But Moscow has long been Hanoi’s main source of weapons, and Mr. Putin is keen to hold on to that position.

It is Mr. Putin’s fifth visit to Vietnam and follows trips last year by President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China, two leaders who sought assurances from Hanoi that it was not taking the other’s side.

For Vietnam, Mr. Putin’s trip will be an opportunity to solidify ties with Russia, its most important defense partner. Even though it has upgraded relations with the United States, Vietnam was still looking for secret ways last year to purchase Russian military equipment in contravention of American sanctions.

On Thursday morning, in typical scripted fashion, Vietnamese schoolchildren — waving both the Russian and Vietnamese flags — lined the Hanoi streets as Mr. Putin’s motorcade drove by. He was greeted by Vietnam’s newly installed president , To Lam, who gave him a hug.

Later, Mr. Putin was given a 21-gun salute at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an important historical site in the center of the capital. A military band played the national anthems of both countries. The two leaders will hold a news conference after the talks are over, according to Vietnamese state media.

Washington has rebuked Hanoi for inviting the Russian leader, saying, “No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.”

This week, Mr. Lam told the local Russian envoy that Hanoi “always considers Russia one of the top priority partners in its foreign policy.”

Here’s what to know about relations between Moscow and Hanoi.

Russia and Vietnam have deep military ties.

In 1950, the Soviet Union was among the first countries to give diplomatic recognition to what was then the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam. Over decades, Moscow became Vietnam’s biggest donor, providing military aid when Hanoi was fighting its wars against France and the United States.

The defense relationship has underpinned many ties between the two countries, which over the years also shared communist ideology. Mr. Putin arrived in Vietnam with his new defense minister, Andrei R. Belousov, underscoring how security matters are central to the visit.

Russian equipment represents about 60 percent to 70 percent of Vietnam’s defense arsenal, according to Nguyen The Phuong, who studies Vietnam’s military affairs at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Russia has supplied Vietnam with coastal defense missile systems, six Kilo-class submarines, fighter jets and many more lethal weapons.

Nearly all of Vietnam’s naval vessels come from Russia, according to Mr. Phuong. Russia’s T-90 tanks, which were the last-known major purchase of Russian arms by Vietnam in 2016, form the backbone of Vietnam’s armored forces, he added. This means that Vietnam is still going to be reliant on Russia in the years to come.

Vietnam has looked beyond Russia for weapons.

But the imposition of Western sanctions on Moscow has increased concerns in Hanoi about Russia’s reliability as a supplier, and made it increasingly awkward for Vietnam to continue dealing with Russia as it engages with the West.

Many of Vietnam’s leaders are also aware of the Russian military’s struggles against Ukraine — footage has shown the T-90 tanks being blown apart by drones used by Ukraine. They are also cognizant of Russia’s deepening relationship with China, which they regard as a threat because of a longstanding territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

In recent months, it has turned to countries like South Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic as alternative sources of weapons. It has also tried to build up its own defense industry. It has looked to India, another former Soviet ally, to retrofit some of its weapons.

The United States has been actively offering more weapons to Vietnam, with senior officials traveling to the country in recent months. But analysts say the top echelons of Vietnam’s defense leadership remain suspicious of Washington. They are reluctant to tie their fate to a country where arms sales have to be passed through a Congress that could make the deal contingent on human rights.

The two nations have joint ventures in the oil business.

Russia has a significant stake in Vietnam’s lucrative oil and gas sector. Vietsovpetro, a joint venture run by Russia’s Zarubezhneft and Vietnam’s state-owned PetroVietnam, operates Vietnam’s largest oil field, Bach Ho.

The profits from Vietsovpetro have generated millions of dollars for both Russia and Vietnam. Zarubezhneft and Gazprom, another Russian state-owned energy firm, are also involved in oil exploration projects in Vietnam.

For Moscow, these projects come at a time when Russian oil and gas exports to Europe have plummeted following the imposition of sanctions from the European Union. But they have irked Beijing because they are in waters that it contends are part of its territory.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam was also a particularly attractive destination for Russian tourists. In 2019, Russia sent the sixth-highest number of tourists of any nation to Vietnam, just after the United States. But the numbers dropped during the pandemic and fell further after Vietnam stopped direct flights in 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Direct flights resumed this year.

Mr. Putin is seen as popular with the Vietnamese brass.

Beginning in the 1950s, thousands of Vietnamese Communist Party officials , top business officials, doctors, teachers and soldiers were trained in the Soviet Union and Russia. That list includes the current party chief, Nguyen Phu Trong.

But some felt those deep ties were ignored by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, and Russia’s first president, Boris N. Yeltsin.

“The Vietnamese feel that Gorbachev in the 1980s abandoned Vietnam in an effort to improve relations with China; Yeltsin, all through the 90s, barely paid any attention to Vietnam,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “Once Putin was in power in 2000, he gave a lot of face to it. So the Vietnamese are grateful for that.”

He added that the Vietnamese leadership liked Mr. Putin because “he put Vietnam-Russia relations back on track.”

Paul Sonne and Damien Cave contributed reporting.

Sui-Lee Wee is the Southeast Asia bureau chief for The Times, overseeing coverage of 11 countries in the region. More about Sui-Lee Wee

Why is Russia’s Putin visiting Vietnam after North Korea?

Vietnam is a rising nation that the West wants closer ties with. The visit is a signal from Russia that Putin isn’t isolated.

Nguyen Thi Hong Van, 55, a collector and seller of Russian souvenirs who lived and worked in Russia for 20 years, poses at her shop in Hanoi, Vietnam

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held talks with Vietnam’s leaders, hours after flying into Hanoi for a visit to an old ally that has positioned itself as an increasingly influential geopolitical player, wooed by most major nations. Putin flew to Vietnam from North Korea, where he met that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, on Wednesday.

The visit to Vietnam, among other things, is Russia’s way of showcasing that while Putin is treated as a pariah by the West, he still holds political clout in the East, experts have said. Communist-led Vietnam will welcome Putin for a two-day visit, the Kremlin said.

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The trip comes after the United States last week imposed more sanctions on Moscow and Western countries reiterated their unwavering support for Ukraine – now fighting its third year of war against Russia – by agreeing to a $50bn loan for Kyiv at a Group of Seven (G7) summit. The visit also comes days after last weekend’s Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland.

Why Vietnam?

While North Korea , where Putin held meetings with leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, is itself a global outcast, heavily sanctioned by the United Nations over its nuclear and missile programmes, Vietnam is a nation that other major countries want close ties with.

A rising economy and a leading exporter of garments, Vietnam today counts the US and other Western countries as important partners. India is a growing defence partner. Vietnam is also a pillar of Southeast Asian efforts to balance ties with China, keeping strong economic ties with Beijing while pushing back against perceived military threats from the Asian giant.

That backdrop makes Vietnam a choice destination for the Russian leader. “Putin will hope his Vietnam visit signals that Russia is far from isolated in Asia amid its recent Ukraine war inroads,” said Prashanth Parameswaran, a fellow at the Washington, DC-based Wilson Center. “ … Even though the visit has been pending for a while now and Moscow’s list of regional friends is quite short in practice,” added Parameswaran, who is also the founder of the weekly ASEAN Wonk newsletter.

What is on the agenda?

Vietnamese President To Lam welcomed Putin in Hanoi on Thursday, committing to further strengthening ties, which he said would enhance peace in the region and globally.

While very few details are available at the moment, their dialogue is expected to focus on strengthening their strategic partnership. In 2001, Russia became the first country to sign a strategic partnership with Vietnam.

Regional and global issues will also feature on the agenda, the Russian state news agency TASS reported. Following the meeting, a joint statement will be adopted and a number of bilateral documents will be signed, it added.

Russia is Vietnam’s biggest weapons supplier, and military and security relations are expected to figure in talks.

Le Kim Phuong, 60, and Le Thu Hong, 62 prepare Russian national flags ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Vietnam, in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Thinh Nguyen

How strong are Vietnam-Russia ties? 

Ties between the two countries date back to the Soviet Union, which was Hanoi’s biggest weapons supplier – a position that Russia today still occupies.

The Soviet Union’s military support was critical to the Communist Party of Vietnam during key historical events, including the First and Second Indochina Wars against France and the US.

However, the relationship between the two goes beyond its military scope.

“They were once on the same side of history, they shared the same ideology against Western capitalism and imperialism. And the legacy of shared ideology is still there,” said Huong Le Thu, International Crisis Group’s deputy programme director for Asia.

The Soviet Union used to host tens of thousands of Vietnamese students during the Cold War, including the current head of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.

Hanoi’s architecture also has a Soviet touch, such as the museum of modern Vietnam’s founding father Ho Chi Minh, and an imposing Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Cultural Palace, built in the late 1970s.

What is Vietnam’s position on Ukraine?

Since the start of the war in 2022 , Vietnam has officially taken a neutral stance.

“Vietnam has tried to cultivate a careful balance in the Ukraine war between not disrupting ties with Russia as a traditional partner while also signalling that it takes principles like territorial integrity seriously,” said Parameswaran.

As a victim of large occupying or invading powers – the US, France, Japan and China – over the past 80 years, Vietnam holds a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity being inviolable as a sacrosanct principle.

The centrality of those principles is something that Vietnam has repeatedly underscored at global meetings discussing the Ukraine war, in veiled criticisms of Russia’s war – even though it has not condemned Moscow.

There is also a shared history, and a degree of sympathy, between Vietnam and Ukraine, which was also part of the Soviet Union, say analysts. Ukraine too used to supply weapons to Hanoi and cultural ties meant that many Vietnamese studied in Ukraine forming a large diaspora. Vietnam has supplied humanitarian aid to Ukraine through international organisations during the war.

Yet, Vietnam skipped the Ukraine peace summit last week and abstained on four resolutions at the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion of its neighbouring country. It also voted against removing Moscow from the UN Human Rights Council.

“Vietnam guides its foreign policy based on its historical legacies and its own interests – it wants to showcase that it’s able to receive Chinese, American and Russian leaders and that it is OK with being friends with anyone – it’s a multidimensional diplomacy,” Le Thu added.

The peak of such flexibility, which some experts called “bamboo diplomacy”, came last year when US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country. Bamboo, which grows widely in Vietnam, is known for its ability to bend as needed – without snapping – serving as a metaphor for the country’s foreign policy.

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024. - Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in North Korea early on June 19, the Kremlin said, kicking off a visit set to boost defence ties between the two nuclear-armed countries as Moscow pursues its war in Ukraine. (Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP) / -- EDITOR'S NOTE : THIS IMAGE IS DISTRIBUTED BY THE RUSSIAN STATE OWNED AGENCY SPUTNIK --

What is the US response to Putin’s visit to Vietnam?

The US is a top trade partner of Vietnam and has not taken Putin’s visit well.

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalise his atrocities,” a US embassy spokesperson in Hanoi told the Reuters news agency. “If he is able to travel freely, it could normalise Russia’s blatant violations of international law,” they added.

The visit to Vietnam is a rare occasion for Putin to travel outside Russia since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest over alleged war crimes in Ukraine. The warrant means that any signatory to the ICC must arrest the Russian president should he step into their territory. Vietnam is not an ICC member.

What is China’s role in all of this?

As the war in Ukraine drags into a third year, Moscow’s political and economic dependence on China has deepened. This is relevant to Vietnam, which has a dispute with China in the South China Sea. Beijing claims jurisdiction rights to maritime resources on certain Vietnamese territories rich in oil and gas reserves.

This is where Russia comes into the picture. Two of its energy companies are involved in upstream projects in some of the contested zones.

“Vietnam is concerned that as a result of Russia’s growing dependence on China, Beijing could use its leverage with Moscow to undermine Vietnamese interests. This would include increased pressure on the Kremlin to withdraw its state-owned energy companies,” Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, wrote in a research paper in March.

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Putin prepares for rare visits to security partners North Korea and Vietnam

This pool image distributed by Sputnik agency shows Russia President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region on Sept. 13, 2023.

This pool image distributed by Sputnik agency shows Russia President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region on Sept. 13, 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov, Pool Photo, AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit North Korea and Vietnam soon, taking rare trips to Moscow’s traditional security partners as he seeks help for his grinding war on Ukraine.

Vedomosti reported Monday on these two trips that it said would take place in the coming weeks, citing a diplomat it did not identify. The Russian newspaper did not give firm dates for the visits. It also cited Russia’s ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora as saying the trip is now being “actively prepared.”

Putin’s trip to North Korea would be his first since July 2000. It is set to stoke concerns from the U.S. and its allies of arms transfers that have helped the Kremlin in its assault on Ukraine in exchange for aid propping up Kim Jong Un’s regime.

The timing of the visit could be crucial for Putin. With Kyiv now taking delivery of billions of dollars in fresh arms from its U.S. and European allies, the window for a Russian breakthrough is narrowing even as it continues to fire missiles and drones at Ukrainian cities including energy infrastructure.

Putin accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang when Kim Jong Un went to Russia for a summit in September. The two met at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur region.

During their meeting in Russia, Putin pledged to help Kim with his goal of placing multiple spy satellites into orbit to keep an eye on U.S. troops in the region. He later gifted Kim a Russian-made luxury limousine in a show of bonhomie between the two leaders whose cooperation has vexed Washington and its global partners.

The U.S., South Korea and others have accused North Korea of sending massive amounts of artillery shells to Putin as well as Pyongyang’s newest family of short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that are easy to hide and quick to deploy.

The value of the artillery alone is likely several billion dollars and the aid from Russia could represent the biggest boost to North Korea’s economy since Kim took power about a dozen years ago.

Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the arms transfers accusations despite a multitude of satellite photos released by research groups and the U.S. government showing the flow of weapons from North Korea to Russia and then to munitions dumps near the border with Ukraine.

The stakes will probably be lower for a Putin visit to Vietnam. He last went there in 2017, when the nation hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the coastal city of Danang.

Vietnam and Russia have ties going back decades to the Soviet Union. Moscow was a major supplier of military aid to Vietnam during its war with the U.S. The Southeast Asian nation has since relied on Russia for military weapons, including aircraft and Kilo-class, diesel-powered submarines.

Relations between the Vietnam and Russia have stayed robust, with Moscow also a key stakeholder in Vietnam’s energy sector. Vietsovpetro, a joint venture between Vietnam and Russia, runs one of the Southeast Asian country’s largest oil fields in Bach Ho, which has been in operation for about four decades.

With assistance from John Boudreau and Philip J. Heijmans.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

Visit bloomberg.com .

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC .

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Putin signs deals with Vietnam in bid to shore up ties in Asia to offset Moscow’s growing isolation

Russian President Vladimir Putin was greeted by Vietnamese President To Lam as he received a welcoming ceremony at Hanoi’s Presidential Palace on Thursday.

vietnamese visit korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Hanoi on Thursday for a state visit to the Southeast Asian nation. Putin’s visit to Vietnam is taking place at a time when Moscow is facing growing international isolation because of its offensive in Ukraine. (AP video shot by: Hau Dinh)

vietnamese visit korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Vietnam early on Thursday. During the state visit Putin is scheduled to meet with Vietnam’s most powerful politician, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, and new President To Lam, as the Russian leader seeks to strengthen ties with a longtime partner. (AP video shot by: Hau Dinh)

vietnamese visit korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin laid wreaths and paid his respects at two monuments in Hanoi on Thursday as part of his state visit to the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Vietnamese President To Lam embrace during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Vietnamese President To Lam embrace during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Vietnam’s President To Lam pose for photos at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Nhac Nguyen/Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong during a meeting at the Communist Party Central Committee headquarters, in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, shakes hands with Vietnamese officials upon his arrival at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Nikita Orlov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vietnamese President To Lam, left on red carpet, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, right on red carpet, review the guard of honor at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seventh left, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong, seventh right, attend the talks at the Communist Party Central Committee headquarters, in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, not pictured, during a meeting at the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Luoung Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, right, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, not pictured, during a meeting at the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Luoung Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

Vietnamese President To Lam, right, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin review the guard of honor at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

Vietnamese President To Lam, center left, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, center right, review the guard of honor at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lays a wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum during his visit to Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Athit Perawongmetha/Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, background left, and Vietnamese President To Lam, background right, both are on a podium, attend an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, front left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, front right, talk as they walk into the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Luoung Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, front left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, front center, look at photos displayed at the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Luoung Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, left, and Vietnam’s President To Lam attend an event attended by the Vietnam Friendship Association and generations of Vietnamese alumni that studied in Russia at the Hanoi Opera House in Hanoi, Thursday June 20, 2024. (Manan Vatsyayana, Pool Photo via AP)

in Mohali, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed at least a dozen deals with his Vietnamese counterpart on Thursday and offered to supply fossil fuels, including natural gas, to Vietnam during a state visit that comes as Moscow is seeking to bolster ties in Asia to offset its growing international isolation over its war in Ukraine .

Putin and President To Lam agreed to further cooperate in education, science and technology, oil and gas exploration and clean energy. The two countries also agreed to work on a roadmap for a nuclear science and technology center in Vietnam.

Of the 12 publicly announced agreements, none overtly pertained to defense but Lam said there were other deals that were not made public.

Putin said the two countries share an interest in “developing a reliable security architecture” in the Asia-Pacific region with no room for “closed military-political blocs.” Lam added that both Russia and Vietnam wanted to “further cooperate in defense and security to cope with non-traditional security challenges.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk to each other during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The agreements between Russia and Vietnam were not as substantial as the pact Putin signed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Wednesday, which pledged mutual aid in the event of invasion, said Nigel Gould-Davies, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and a former British ambassador to Belarus.

Putin’s recent visits to China and now North Korea and Vietnam are attempts to “break the international isolation,” said Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

AP AUDIO: Putin signs deals with Vietnam in bid to shore up ties in Asia to offset Moscow’s growing isolation

AP correspondent Karen Chammas reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam.

Giang said Russia is important to Vietnam for two reasons: It is the biggest supplier of military equipment to the Southeast Asian nation, and Russian oil exploration technologies help maintain Vietnam’s sovereignty claims in the contested South China Sea.

Vietnam also has licensed Russian state-controlled oil company Zarubezhneft to develop an offshore block of its southeastern coast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, June. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, June. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

On the South China Sea, Lam said that both sides would “support and ensure security, safety, freedom of navigation and aviation” and the resolution of disputes peacefully and in accordance to international law without the use of force, according to official Vietnamese media.

Putin arrived in Hanoi on Thursday morning from North Korea after signing the strategic pact , which comes as both countries face escalating standoffs with the West and could mark their strongest connection since the end of the Cold War.

In Hanoi, Putin also met Vietnam’s most powerful politician, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to the official Vietnam News Agency.

Putin drove to Vietnam’s Presidential Palace on Thursday afternoon, where he was greeted by school children waving Russian and Vietnamese flags.

Much has changed since Putin’s last visit to Vietnam in 2017. Russia now faces a raft of U.S.-led sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. In 2023, the International Criminal Court in Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes, making it difficult for the Russian leader to travel internationally. The Kremlin rejected the warrant as “null and void,” stressing that Moscow doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

Putin’s trip resulted in a sharp rebuke from the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, which said that “no country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.” If Putin is allowed to travel freely it “could normalize Russia’s blatant violations of international law,” it said in a statement.

The U.S. and its allies have expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which North Korea provides Russia with badly needed munitions for use in Ukraine in exchange for Russian economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Both countries deny accusations of weapons transfers, which would violate multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions that Russia previously endorsed.

It is unlikely that Vietnam would supply significant quantities of weapons to Russia and risk the progress that it has made with NATO members on military equipment, particularly the U.S., said Ridzwan Rahmat, a Singapore-based analyst with the defense intelligence company Janes.

“I would imagine Vietnam wouldn’t want to take a risk, inviting the wrath of Western countries by supplying the Russians,” Rahmat said.

Hanoi and Moscow have had diplomatic relations since 1950, and this year marks 30 years of a treaty establishing “friendly relations” between Vietnam and Russia. Prashanth Parameswaran, a fellow with the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, said Vietnam is “reinforcing” that relationship even while it diversifies with newer partners.

Evidence of the long relationship and its influence can be seen in Vietnamese cities like the capital, where many Soviet-style apartment blocks are now dwarfed by skyscrapers. A statue of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union , stands in a park where kids skateboard every evening. Many in the Communist Party’s top leadership in Vietnam studied in Soviet universities, including party chief Trong.

In an article written for Nhan Dan, the official newspaper of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Putin thanked “Vietnamese friends for their balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis” and hailed the country as a “strong supporter of a fair world order” based on international law, equality and geopolitical non-interference.

Vietnam’s pragmatic policy of “bamboo diplomacy” — a phrase coined by Trong referring to the plant’s flexibility, bending but not breaking in the shifting headwinds of global geopolitics — is being increasingly tested.

A manufacturing powerhouse and an increasingly important player in global supply chains, Vietnam hosted both U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2023.

Putin’s visit is important for Hanoi on a diplomatic level, said Gould-Davies, the former ambassador.

“Perhaps for Vietnam it’s a matter of just showing that it’s able to maintain this very agile balance of its bamboo diplomacy,” he said. “Already in the course of a year they’ve hosted visits by the heads of state of the three most powerful countries in the world, which is pretty impressive.”

For Russia, the visit seems to have been more about optics than anything else, he said, as Moscow seeks to engage and influence other countries, particularly in the so-called Global South.

“Since the war began, Putin has not been able to travel much or very far, and he’s made very few trips beyond the countries of the former Soviet space,” he said.

Vietnam has remained neutral on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But neutrality is getting trickier,

Vietnam needs support from the U.S. to advance its economic ambitions and diversify its defense ties, Parameswaran said. “It has to carefully calibrate what it does with Russia in an environment of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.”

Bilateral trade between Russia and Vietnam totaled $3.6 billion in 2023, compared to $171 billion with China and $111 billion with America.

Since the early 2000s, Russia has accounted for around 80% of Vietnam’s arms imports. This has been declining over the years due to Vietnamese attempts to diversify its supplies. But to entirely wean itself off Russia will take time, Giang said.

Given Putin’s international isolation, Vietnam is doing the Russian leader a “huge favor and may expect favors in return,” Andrew Goledzinowski, the Australian ambassador to Vietnam, wrote on social media platform X.

“Vietnam will always act in Vietnam’s interests and not anyone else’s,” he wrote.

AP writer David Rising in Bangkok contributed to this report.

ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL

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Putin signs numerous deals with Vietnam in a bid to shore up Russia's ties in Asia

The Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Vietnam's President To Lam pose for photos at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Vietnam's President To Lam pose for photos at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. Nhac Nguyen/Pool photo via AP hide caption

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed at least a dozen deals with his Vietnamese counterpart on Thursday and offered to supply fossil fuels, including natural gas, to Vietnam during a state visit that comes as Moscow is seeking to bolster ties in Asia to offset its growing international isolation over its war in Ukraine .

Putin and President To Lam agreed to further cooperate in education, science and technology, oil and gas exploration and clean energy. The two countries also agreed to work on a roadmap for a nuclear science and technology center in Vietnam.

Ukraine invasion — explained

Ukraine invasion — explained

Of the 12 publicly announced agreements, none overtly pertained to defense but Lam said there were other deals that were not made public.

Putin said the two countries share an interest in "developing a reliable security architecture" in the Asia-Pacific region with no room for "closed military-political blocs." Lam added that both Russia and Vietnam wanted to "further cooperate in defense and security to cope with non-traditional security challenges."

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting in Pyongyang on June 19

Russia and North Korea vow stronger partnership against the West with new treaty

The agreements between Russia and Vietnam were not as substantial as the pact Putin signed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Wednesday, which pledged mutual aid in the event of invasion, said Nigel Gould-Davies, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and a former British ambassador to Belarus.

Putin's recent visits to China and now North Korea and Vietnam are attempts to "break the international isolation," said Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a gala concert in Pyongyang, on Wednesday.

Concerns mount as Russia and North Korea commit to a mutual defense pact

Giang said Russia is important to Vietnam for two reasons: It is the biggest supplier of military equipment to the Southeast Asian nation, and Russian oil exploration technologies help maintain Vietnam's sovereignty claims in the contested South China Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Vietnamese President To Lam embrace during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Vietnamese President To Lam embrace during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Hanoi, Thursday. Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP hide caption

Vietnam also has licensed Russian state-controlled oil company Zarubezhneft to develop an offshore block of its southeastern coast.

On the South China Sea, Lam said that both sides would "support and ensure security, safety, freedom of navigation and aviation" and the resolution of disputes peacefully and in accordance to international law without the use of force, according to official Vietnamese media.

Putin arrived in Hanoi on Thursday morning from North Korea after signing the strategic pact, which comes as both countries face escalating standoffs with the West and could mark their strongest connection since the end of the Cold War.

Vietnam's top security official is confirmed as president

In Hanoi, Putin also met Vietnam's most powerful politician, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to the official Vietnam News Agency.

Putin drove to Vietnam's Presidential Palace on Thursday afternoon, where he was greeted by school children waving Russian and Vietnamese flags.

Much has changed since Putin's last visit to Vietnam in 2017. Russia now faces a raft of U.S.-led sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. In 2023, the International Criminal Court in Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes, making it difficult for the Russian leader to travel internationally. The Kremlin rejected the warrant as "null and void," stressing that Moscow doesn't recognize the court's jurisdiction.

Putin's trip resulted in a sharp rebuke from the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, which said that "no country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities." If Putin is allowed to travel freely it "could normalize Russia's blatant violations of international law," it said in a statement.

The U.S. and its allies have expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which North Korea provides Russia with badly needed munitions for use in Ukraine in exchange for Russian economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Both countries deny accusations of weapons transfers, which would violate multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions that Russia previously endorsed.

It is unlikely that Vietnam would supply significant quantities of weapons to Russia and risk the progress that it has made with NATO members on military equipment, particularly the U.S., said Ridzwan Rahmat, a Singapore-based analyst with the defense intelligence company Janes.

"I would imagine Vietnam wouldn't want to take a risk, inviting the wrath of Western countries by supplying the Russians," Rahmat said.

Hanoi and Moscow have had diplomatic relations since 1950, and this year marks 30 years of a treaty establishing "friendly relations" between Vietnam and Russia. Prashanth Parameswaran, a fellow with the Wilson Center's Asia Program, said Vietnam is "reinforcing" that relationship even while it diversifies with newer partners.

Evidence of the long relationship and its influence can be seen in Vietnamese cities like the capital, where many Soviet-style apartment blocks are now dwarfed by skyscrapers. A statue of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, stands in a park where kids skateboard every evening. Many in the Communist Party's top leadership in Vietnam studied in Soviet universities, including party chief Trong.

In an article written for Nhan Dan, the official newspaper of Vietnam's Communist Party, Putin thanked "Vietnamese friends for their balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis" and hailed the country as a "strong supporter of a fair world order" based on international law, equality and geopolitical non-interference.

Vietnam's pragmatic policy of "bamboo diplomacy" — a phrase coined by Trong referring to the plant's flexibility, bending but not breaking in the shifting headwinds of global geopolitics — is being increasingly tested.

A manufacturing powerhouse and an increasingly important player in global supply chains, Vietnam hosted both U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2023.

Putin's visit is important for Hanoi on a diplomatic level, said Gould-Davies, the former ambassador.

"Perhaps for Vietnam it's a matter of just showing that it's able to maintain this very agile balance of its bamboo diplomacy," he said. "Already in the course of a year they've hosted visits by the heads of state of the three most powerful countries in the world, which is pretty impressive."

For Russia, the visit seems to have been more about optics than anything else, he said, as Moscow seeks to engage and influence other countries, particularly in the so-called Global South.

Part of a welcome for the United States-Soviet commission on Korea on their arrival in Pyongyang on July 23, 1947, was this parade of Korean communists carrying huge portraits of Josef Stalin and Kim Il Sung. The commission visited Pyongyang, 165 miles north of Seoul, for the purpose of getting views of political groups on the prospecting.

Opinion: Putin and Kim forge closer ties, resuscitating a defunct Stalinist alliance

"Since the war began, Putin has not been able to travel much or very far, and he's made very few trips beyond the countries of the former Soviet space," he said.

Vietnam has remained neutral on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But neutrality is getting trickier,

Vietnam needs support from the U.S. to advance its economic ambitions and diversify its defense ties, Parameswaran said. "It has to carefully calibrate what it does with Russia in an environment of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow."

Bilateral trade between Russia and Vietnam totaled $3.6 billion in 2023, compared to $171 billion with China and $111 billion with America.

Since the early 2000s, Russia has accounted for around 80% of Vietnam's arms imports. This has been declining over the years due to Vietnamese attempts to diversify its supplies. But to entirely wean itself off Russia will take time, Giang said.

Given Putin's international isolation, Vietnam is doing the Russian leader a "huge favor and may expect favors in return," Andrew Goledzinowski, the Australian ambassador to Vietnam, wrote on social media platform X.

"Vietnam will always act in Vietnam's interests and not anyone else's," he wrote.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin visits Vietnam after signing North Korea pact

Two men dressed in suits walk towards the camera smiling.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Vietnam for a state visit, a day after signing a mutual defence pact with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, who offered his "full support" on Ukraine.

Mr Putin and Mr Kim inked a strategic treaty at a summit in Pyongyang that included a pledge to come to each other's aid if attacked.

Washington and its allies accuse North Korea of supplying ammunition and missiles to Russia for its war in Ukraine, and the deal fuelled fears of more deliveries.

Close-up of a man with bald head.

The US State Department said deepening Russia-North Korea ties were "of great concern" while a top Ukrainian official accused Pyongyang of abetting Moscow's "mass murder of Ukrainians".

Making his first visit to the isolated North in 24 years on Wednesday, Mr Putin said he did not rule out "military-technical cooperation" with Pyongyang, which like Moscow is under heavy international sanctions.

"Today, we are fighting together against the hegemonism and neo-colonial practices of the United States and its satellites," Mr Putin said.

The two countries have been allies since North Korea's founding after World War II and have drawn even closer since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un shake hands

Reacting to the Pyongyang visit, a US State Department spokesperson said no country should "give Mr Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression against Ukraine".

Trade and arms

Mr Putin received a rapturous reception in the North Korean capital, embraced by Kim as he stepped off his plane and greeted by cheering crowds.

His reception is likely to be more reserved in Vietnam, a major global manufacturing hub that has carefully hedged its foreign policy position for years, seeking to be friends with all but beholden to none.

In particular, it has sought to avoid picking sides in the growing US-China rivalry even as both superpowers look to boost their influence in South-East Asia.

Putin will spend Thursday meeting senior Vietnamese leaders including newly installed President To Lam and Nguyen Phu Trong, the powerful general secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

US President Joe Biden visited Hanoi in September to promote ties as his administration seeks to build up Vietnam as an alternative supplier of key high-tech components to reduce American dependence on China.

Beijing swiftly followed suit, with President Xi Jinping making his own state visit barely three months later.

Russian officials say Putin's visit will focus on economic, education and energy issues.

But observers say that in private, Ukraine and defence cooperation are likely to be on the table.

Russia and Vietnam have deep ties dating back to the 1950s, and for decades, Moscow was Hanoi's leading arms supplier.

Carl Thayer, emeritus professor of politics at Australia's University of New South Wales, said Vietnam has stopped "big ticket" military purchases since 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

"Russia and Vietnam have a mutual interest in resuming arms sales but Vietnam is hamstrung by the threat of US sanctions," he said.

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