Việt Nam - Republic of Korea cooperation close to miraculous

February 19, 2024 - 08:32
Choi Young-sam, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Việt Nam, talked to Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Hằng about the diplomatic relationship between Việt Nam and the Republic of Korea as well as key points in the cultural cooperation between the two countries over the past 32 years
Choi Young-sam, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Việt Nam.— Photos courtesy of the embassy.

Choi Young-sam, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Việt Nam, talked to Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Hằng about the diplomatic relationship between Việt Nam and the Republic of Korea as well as key points in the cultural cooperation between the two countries over the past 32 years

How do you evaluate the diplomatic relationship between the two countries over the past 32 years?

There have been remarkable achievements in all areas, including the economic, diplomatic, and cultural fields as well as people-to-people exchanges. The accomplishments in the cooperation we have yielded in just one generation are close to miraculous. Now, Korea and Việt Nam have become most vital partners to each other.

The fact that Korea is Việt Nam's largest cumulative investor, second largest aid provider, and third largest trading partner, illustrates the successful development of the bilateral relations.

More than 9,000 Korean companies are operating in Việt Nam. As of 2023, Korea has invested approximately US$85.9 billion in Việt Nam. This is the largest overall investment in Việt Nam in terms of cumulative investment. The number of Vietnamese citizens working for Korean companies operating in Việt Nam is estimated to be around 800,000 to 900,000.

Additionally, trade between the two countries has increased 175 fold compared to when diplomatic relations were established in 1992, making Việt Nam and Korea the third largest trading partners to each other. In the manufacturing sector, which can be said to be one of the core drivers of Việt Nam's economic development, Korean companies account for about 30 per cent of Việt Nam's total exports. Such economic collaboration between the two countries has contributed to the development of both countries.

In 2022, the year marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Korea and Việt Nam elevated their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The fact that the ROK was the first country among the countries with which Việt Nam newly established diplomatic relations after the Đổi mới policy in 1986 to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership vividly demonstrates the importance of Korea-Việt Nam relations.

As comprehensive strategic partners, Korea and Việt Nam are taking strides forward in developing the ties both quantitatively and qualitatively. We are expanding and deepening collaboration in the economic sector, which has been driving the bilateral relations, and further expanding the areas of exchanges and teamwork between the two countries to not only the social and cultural fields but also defence; security; and health and the environment.

Furthermore, in the international arena, the two countries are expanding the horizons of the shared efforts on various joint challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, moving beyond partnership in the bilateral dimension.

Could you please tell us about the significance of the State visit to Việt Nam by His Excellency President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife in June 2023?

In June 2023, six months after elevating the bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in December 2022, President Yoon Suk Yeol and his spouse made a State visit to Việt Nam. His visit to Việt Nam, the first bilateral visit to the Southeast Asian region since his inauguration, brought into focus once again the importance of Korea - Việt Nam relations.

President Yoon's State visit to Việt Nam served as an opportunity to create a future roadmap for Korea - Việt Nam relations to develop a practical and strategic cooperative relationship in line with the upgraded relationship between the two nations. During President Yoon's State visit to Việt Nam, the leaders of the two countries decided to expand and deepen the ties of cooperation in all areas, including the political, economic, security, social and cultural realms. In terms of joint efforts in the economic field, we decided to expand the concerted endeavours beyond the existing investment and trade cooperation to economic security, science and technology and ICT.

We also discussed ways to maximise the interests of both countries and contribute to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, while also dealing with new challenges such as climate change, intensifying competition among major powers, disruptions to global supply chains and newly emerging technologies.

Choi Young-sam, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Việt Nam (fifth, right) visits Việt Nam - Korea Institute of Science and Technology (VKIST) in Hà Nội.

Cultural similarity forms one of the important foundations for the Việt Nam-Republic of Korea relationship over the past three decades. The synergy in the cultural field has achieved many milestones with efforts from both sides. Could you highlight key points in the cultural cooperation between our two countries?

After more than 30 years of relations, culture has become an effective bridge to bring the two peoples closer than ever. Both nations have made many efforts to promote cultural exchanges through various festivals, personnel and people-to-people exchange programmes, performances, etc.

Especially, through the Korean Cultural Centre in Việt Nam plentiful programmes have been hosted in many years such as the Korean Cultural Day in Sa Pa, Hội An, and HCM City; the K-pop Festivals; the Korean Game Week; the National Korean Speaking Contest - Korean Ambassador Cup; the Korean Ambassador’s Cup Taekwondo Competition; as well as cultural experience programmes for students and multiracial Việt Nam – Korean families.

The centre has also provided support to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Việt Nam for sharing Vietnamese culture with Korean people through Việt Nam Culture & Tourism Festivals in Korea for a number of years or by inviting Vietnamese experts to Korea for Korean cultural experiences. All those efforts have further enhanced even more thriving two-way cultural exchanges, fostering multifaceted interaction between the two countries.

As the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to Việt Nam, could you please tell us your plans to promote the relationship during your term?

I would like to contribute to developing the bilateral relations in such a way that helps to bring to realisation our two countries' shared vision in the Korea - Việt Nam ties. Amidst the rapidly changing political and economic order of the international community, Korea hopes to further strengthen its friendship with Việt Nam while Việt Nam plans to be ranked as a high-income country by 2045.

To this end, I believe that it is necessary to boldly expand the economic cooperation between the two countries, which have so far focussed on manufacturing, to encompass new growth engine areas such as high-tech industries, climate change, and digital transformation. This is also what the leaders of Korea and Việt Nam agreed to last June. In order for the two countries to become closest partners in areas such as high-tech industries, including the semiconductor sector, achieving the 2050 carbon neutrality goal, green economy, and economic security are imperative. Korea, Việt Nam's largest investor on a cumulative basis, is helping to foster Việt Nam’s industrial ecosystem. The Korean government has a heartfelt wish to actively support Việt Nam.

I believe it is also important in tandem to make efforts to cultivate excellent Vietnamese human resources and welcome them into the high-tech industries of both countries. In the process, we will foster the entire Vietnamese industrial ecosystem, including small and medium-sized Vietnamese enterprises and the supporting industries, and work with Korean companies to find ways to support Vietnamese companies in joining the global value chain.

We would like to expand human exchanges between Korea and Việt Nam in such a way that benefits both countries.

More than 9,000 Korean companies and more than 170,000 Korean residents have contributed meaningfully to Việt Nam's economic growth, ranking as Việt Nam's first largest investor. As Ambassador of Korea, I will make endeavours to help Korean people staying in Việt Nam to be able to work stably in Việt Nam and contribute to the fostering of the bilateral ties.

In addition, Vietnamese people living in Korea are also contributing greatly to the Korean economy. Currently, about 65,000 Vietnamese workers are staying in Korea under the Employment Permit System. We also want to explore ways to expand opportunities for Vietnamese people to enter Korea so that Vietnamese people can further contribute to both Korean industry and the Vietnamese economy.

We intend to expand the horizons of the win-win synergy between Korea and Việt Nam beyond the scope of the two countries to also the regional and international stage. As part of the vision of emerging as a Global Pivotal State, Korea announced a Strategy for a free, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific. And indeed the ASEAN-Korea Solidarity Initiative was proposed as an Indo-Pacific policy.

Việt Nam is one of the key partners of our Indo-Pacific Strategy and the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative announced at the ASEAN Summit in 2022. The Republic of Korea truly wants to broaden the scope of the mutually beneficial teamwork with Việt Nam in various regional and international arenas.— VNS