First contacts between CERN and the Government of the Republic of Korea were established more than a decade ago with a view to formal International Cooperation Agreement (ICA), but did not reach a conclusion. In 1997, the Korea University (Seoul) joined the CMS Collaboration with substantial funding. Many more Korean universities then followed in 1998, though without government funding, and subsequently the Universities of Gangneung and Pohang joined the ALICE Collaboration.
In 2002 the newly-created Centre for High-Energy Physics (CHEP) at Kyungpook National University (Daegu) pledged to provide additional funding for the computer farm of CMS. The government stepped in to coordinate the relations between CERN and Korea by signing an ICA in 2006 followed by an implementation Protocol regulating the relations between ALICE and CMS and Korean institutes in November 2007. The early declaration of interest regarding the establishing of computing centres for both ALICE and CMS became concrete with the signing of formal Memoranda of Understanding establishing a Tier-2 centre for ALICE at KISTI in 2007 and a Tier-2 centre for CMS in Kyungpook National in 2008. A new computing centre operated by the KISTI joined the WLCG as a Tier-1 centre in 2013, making it the second Tier-1 in Asia after Academia Sinica (Taipei), and will initially provide services for ALICE.Korea also operates one of the Tier-1 centres and participates in the NA61 and OPERA experiments.
The funding to support the CMS and ALICE operations has been increased steadily. During a visit in August 2008 the highest levels of the ministry expressed favorable opinions on extending the cooperation between CERN and Korea. Subsequently, a theoretical physics exchange programme has been approved.
A new Memorandum of Understanding was signed covering the provision of Tier-2 resources to the WLCG for CMS by KISTI, replacing the previous centre in Daegu. Cooperation between ISOLDE and the Rare Isotope Science Project (RISP), under construction in the Republic of Korea as part of the recently established Institute of Basic Science (IBS), has been launched.
As part of the ongoing process of moving towards closer relations, a successful international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the ICA and the 20th anniversary of Korea-CMS cooperation took place in Seoul in March 2017.