Murphy meets with president of South Korea, mayor of Seoul

Governor continues string of sit-downs with top elected officials on East Asia Economic Mission trip

SEOUL, South Korea — It could be because of his time as an ambassador … or his role at the Democratic Governors Association. Or maybe it’s just being the governor of New Jersey.

Whatever the reason: Gov. Phil Murphy gets meetings.

On Wednesday, Murphy met with both the president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, and the mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, during his first full day in South Korea, the second leg of the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission. He also met with the South Korea’s foreign minister, Park Jin.

On the first leg, in Japan, Murphy met with the prime minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, and the U.S. ambassador to Japan, his old friend Rahm Emanuel.

Murphy did not reveal many details of his conversation with Yoon — only that it went 45 minutes instead of the scheduled 15. Murphy did joke about how aware Yoon was with New Jersey, which has the third-highest number of Koreans among states in the U.S.

“He knew more about the Korean community in New Jersey than any of us,” Murphy told a dinner crowd Wednesday night. “And he gave us a real history lesson with a real depth of understanding of not just, obviously, the Korea-American relationship, but also specific to New Jersey.”

Murphy said he was pleased with the meeting — and his first day in Korea.

“I don’t think the relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America has ever been stronger,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Murphy met with Oh to strengthen it a bit more. The pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a direct relationship between New Jersey and the city of Seoul — with an emphasis on directly supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and startups while establishing a bilateral partnership between New Jersey and Seoul.

The MOU formalizes collaboration between the state and the International Relations Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, with both entities pledging to work together to support Seoul’s business owners, ensuring fair competition and opportunities for all.

Murphy said it’s another step in a strong relationship.

“Seventy years ago, the United States and South Korea began an allyship that marked a new age of peace for its citizens and the world,” he said. “Today, alongside Mr. Oh Se-hoon, on behalf of the state of New Jersey, I am proud to build upon that promise of progress made decades ago. With this new partnership, New Jersey and Seoul will work together to pursue economic, cultural and social prosperity for local communities.”