|Turning point: The appearance of President Park Geun-hye at the Hanbok–Ao dai Fashion Show in Ha Noi created a turning point in the cultural exchanges between the two countries. — Photo courtesy of the Republic of Korea embassy
(VNS) Viet Nam and Korea have continuously yielded re-markable achievements for the past 21 years. Specifically, the bilateral trade volume has increased by 44 times from US$0.49 to 21.7 billion. The increase in investment stands out most noticeably, with an increase by 250 times from $0.1 to over $25 billion.
The annual number of visitors to each other's country has grown 80 fold from 10 thousand to 800 thousand people. Moreover, cultural exchanges are increasing as the two cultures are gaining greater popularity with each other. Korean dramas, K-Pop music and Vietnamese cuisines are widely enjoyed by the two peoples. These achievements were possible only because of the close collaboration between the two governments and peoples towards the deepening and broadening of the strategic co-operative partnership of Korea and Viet Nam.
Both countries have maintained and developed a series of frequent high-level exchanges between their leaders. In 2013, it was firstly marked by mutual visits from the heads of each National Assembly. Recently, the state visit by Her Excellency Park Geun-hye, the President of Korea, to Viet Nam from September 7-11, 2013 represented yet another milestone in the bilateral relations and exchanges between the two countries.
Starting her visit, President Park shared a heartfelt friendship with the Vietnamese leaders and people through her gesture of laying a wreath at the Mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh.
Through an extensive summit meeting, President Park and President Truong Tan Sang announced a "Joint Statement for Mutual Prosperity" on September 9, laying out a roadmap for future bilateral relationship to benefit both countries and peoples.
The two leaders agreed to further promote their strategic co-operative partnership established in 2009. In addition, President Sang expressed his support for President Park's initiative for trust-building on the Korean Peninsula, which is aimed at achieving sustainable peace on the Peninsula and beyond. President Sang also expressed his support for President Park's vision of Northeast Asian peace and co-operation.
The two leaders shared their willingness to regularly meet and hold high-level meetings, including strategic dialogues in foreign and security affairs as well as to closely co-operate in international fora including the ASEAN+3, ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit, and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC).
The two leaders deliberated on practical ways to achieve the economic partnership as expansion of the bilateral trade volume by 2020, and FTA's completion by 2014; and on a joint preliminary feasibility study for nuclear energy co-operation; an improved business environment; establishment of a Vietnamese-Korean Institute of Science and Technology (V-KIST); and the implementation of local community development projects entitled "Vietnamese happiness programmes," modelled after Korea's rural development initiative known as Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement); facilitation of labour co-operation including joint co-operation on the resumption of the employment permit system (EPS).
In particular, culture was one of the priorities to be promoted more during her visit. At present, up to 120,000 Vietnamese citizens are now living in Korea, including over 40,000 married couples, and a similar number of Korean expatriates are in Viet Nam. Culture will play a crucial role in strengthening mutual understanding and friendship. And a charming appearance by the Korean President at the Hanbok – Ao dai Fashion Show in Ha Noi created a significant turning point in our mutual cultural exchanges. It also laid a good foundation for the two people to make further exchanges in various aspects of culture, including food, fashion, film, arts, etc., in the next 20 years.
As witnessed in the "Joint Statement," the past 21 years of diplomatic relations have taken Korea-Viet Nam relations to new heights, from a comprehensive co-operation to a strategic partnership with significant achievements in all fields. Now it is high time for the two countries to chart the future, building on their outstanding achievements. There remain many areas of further co-operation, such as IT, science technology, capacity building, nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals and medical projects, joint R&D in industrial technology, education and culture. Strengthening co-operation in the new fields of growth will pave the way for a mutually beneficial and future-oriented relationship between the two countries.
Korea and Viet Nam share numerous similarities in cultural and historical heritage, rendering the relationship even closer and more special. Based on their similarities and Korea's unique experience in transforming to a "donor country" from a "recipient country", Korea stands ready to share its experience and know-how with its Vietnamese friends in order to contribute to Viet Nam's goal of achieving socio-economic development by 2020.
As President Park and President Sang shared their views for the future relationship during the summit meeting, we hope that we work together as genuine friends to realise the "Miracle on the Hong River" and the "Second Miracle on the Han River" in the 20 years ahead. — VNS