Address by H.E. Park Heung-kyeong Ambassador of the Republic of Korea on the occasion of the National Foundation Day of Korea at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Phnom Penh
His Excellency Mr. Hang Chuon Naron Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you for joining us in celebrating the National Foundation Day of Korea.
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the re-establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Cambodia. In February of this year, Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Seoul, Korea and had a fruitful meeting with His Excellency Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea. Both leaders praised the rapid strengthening of bilateral relations and the remarkable achievements made throughout various fields of cooperation.
Since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997, bilateral trade volume has increased 19 times from 54 million dollars to 1 billion dollars and people-to-people exchanges have increased 280 times from 1,400 to 400,000.
In terms of accumulative investments in Cambodia, Korea ranks second overall. More than 200 Korean companies are actively conducting businesses in Cambodia’s major leading industries such as garment, agriculture, and finance.
In recent times, Korea is spearheading the growth and expansion of the financial sector of Cambodia through M&A’s with major financial institutions and KOICA’s grant aid project in collaboration with National Bank of Cambodia to enhance the national retail payment system of Cambodia.
In terms of bilateral people-to-people exchanges, the recruitment of Cambodian workers in Korea represents an example of obtaining co-prosperity between our two countries. Approximately, 40,000 Cambodian workers now live and work in Korea supporting the development of manufacturing and agricultural industries. The Cambodian workers in Korea send remittances back home contributing to the economic development of Cambodia. Once the ongoing rounds of Cambodia-ROK FTA negotiations are successfully concluded, we can anticipate further increase in bilateral trade, investment and people-to people exchanges.
Cambodia is a major ODA and the second largest development cooperation partner for Korea. Since 2000, Korea has been supporting the development of healthcare, infrastructure, agriculture and rural areas in Cambodia through various ODA projects worth about 700 million dollars. Korea has committed to continue expanding its support in line with the New Southern Policy promulgated in 2017. Furthermore, the Korean government is conducting the feasibility study on constructing a ‘Cambodia- Korea Friendship Bridge’ traversing the Mekong river in Phnom Penh. This project will not only further strengthen cooperation in the infrastructure sector but it will undoubtedly become a landmark in the capital of Cambodia symbolizing the friendly bilateral relations.
The cultural exchanges between the peoples are also vibrant. Cambodians love and enjoy ‘Hallyu’ or Korean Wave pop culture such as K-pop, K-drama, K-food. More and more Cambodians enjoy learning the traditional Korean martial art of Taekwondo and the Korean language. Koreans admire the natural beauty and the rich diverse cultural heritages of Cambodia, with over 300,000 Koreans visiting Cambodia each year.
Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Korea is doing its utmost to support Cambodia, one of the major partners in the New Southern Policy, to effectively respond and combat COVID-19. Korea has shared with the global community its accumulated knowledge and experience in combating COVID-19 through open sources like webinars. Korea has assisted Cambodia and neighboring countries in the fight against COVID-19 by providing medical equipment such as Korean made testing kits and mobile testing walk-through booths. Korea has already provided to Cambodia $100,000 worth of COVID-19 testing kits and $200,000 in cash funds through the emergency humanitarian support. In terms of multilateral channel, Korea has committed to provide medical devices and equipment worth $500,000 to enhance the detection capacity for COVID-19 in ASEAN countries.
COVID-19 has vividly reminded all of us how closely interconnected we are, as well as how vulnerable we are. Korea has been assessed to have mitigated the negative impact on its economy from the COVID-19 pandemic relative to other OECD member countries by adopting effective prevention measures against the spread of the pandemic and implementing aggressive monetary expansion policies.
Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Korea will continue to concentrate its capability in preventing the spread of COVID-19 with active participation from its civil society. In the international arena, the Korean government has taken the lead in launching the ‘Support Group for Global Infectious Disease Response’ to continue consultations in combating COVID-19 on the multilateral platform.
Korea, as a true friend, is committed to helping Cambodia overcome the COVID-19 crisis and achieve economic development in the spirit of co-prosperity stated by Korea’s New-Southern policy.