South Korea Iran ties
South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be in Iran for a three-day visit from 1 MayJonathan Ernst/Reuters

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is embarking on a three-day state visit to Iran accompanied by a large business delegation. South Korea becomes the latest addition to a long list of countries courting Iran as Tehran gradually emerges from sanctions that had badly hit its economy.

Representatives of more than 225 South Korean companies and organisations will be part of the trip when Park lands on 1 May in Tehran. Park's office said she would meet her Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and they will hold discussions on a wide range of sectors including energy and infrastructure.

Local reports suggest the two countries are expected to seal deals worth $10bn (£6.8bn).

"It will be the first presidential visit to Iran since Korea and Iran established diplomatic relations in 1962. We expect the trip to serve as an important opportunity for us to develop bilateral cooperation since the international community's sanctions on Iran were lifted in January," reads a statement from South Korea's presidential house.

South Korea remains one of the major crude importers for Iran. Seoul's crude oil import from Iran sharply increased earlier this year as soon as the economic sanctions on Iran were lifted following the successful implementation of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

South Korea is the world's fifth-largest oil importer while Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves. The trade between the two countries is estimated to be about $6.1bn in 2015.

"We have high expectations for Korean companies' participation in major infrastructure projects to rebuild Iran's economy. We will try to forge cooperative measures such as financial support to this end," said An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for economy, according to the news outlet Korea Joongang Daily.

However, Park's visit will also be keenly watched by analysts as Iran is perceived to be closer to South Korea's rival North Korea.