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Republic of Korea: Cambodia’s True Partner in Overcoming COVID-19 Pandemic

H.E. Park Heung-kyeong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, hands over emergency aid to a family. H.E. Park said “We have tried to use the majority of local products produced by social enterprises who work with vulnerable groups so that we could support the local economy and more vulnerable people.” KT/Tep Sony


The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis. While posing a threat to global health security, it has also greatly diminished the mobility of people and goods, and spread panic and fear. Despite the grave hardships posed by the pandemic, Cambodia and Korea has remained strong, by successfully controlling further spread of the virus, and by actively engaging in cooperation for COVID-19 response.

Korea’s response to COVID-19


Korea was one of the first countries to be hit by the pandemic, and has thus been a few steps ahead in response to the novel challenges posed by COVID-19. Through adopting the 3T strategy – robust testing to confirm positive cases, rigorous tracing of their contacts to prevent further spread, and treatment of those infected at the earliest possible stage – Korean government has succeeded in quickly identifying patients and preventing further spread of the virus. As of September 28, Korea marked 50 new cases and a total of 23,661 cases, among which the mortality rate was 1.7 percent. About 90 percent of all patients has been cured and returned to everyday life.

Country Director of KOICA Cambodia Office Mr. Rho Hyunjun signs the Record of Discussion for the Infectious Diseases Prevention Program with H.E. Dr. Or Vandine, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health (25/09/2020). Supplied

Korea’s medical support for Cambodia’s COVID-19 response


With Cambodia being Korea’s key partner in the New Southern Policy and one of our two major ODA partners, Korea has provided Cambodia with various kinds of direct support for Cambodia’s medical response, including:

  1. Provide real time PCR test kits for 8,640 tests
  2. Donate $200,000 budget support to the Cambodian       government to fight for       COVID-19 response
  3. Donate 130,000 masks(N95 and surgical) and hand sanitizers to       the Khmer-Soviet Friendship       Hospital and National Pediatric       Hospital
  4. Train 69 disease detectors in Cambodia through KOICA’s       infectious diseases preven-tion       program($3M), who are now       playing a crucial role in COVID-19       response
  5. Donate $150,000 worth food kits and health supplies to       support the livelihood of the       vulnerable and marginalized       population

In addition, the Korean government has committed to donate $500,000 worth of PCR devices and nuclear acid extractors, 20 mobile testing walk-through booths, 12 negative pressure carriers and $350,000 worth of PPEs and supplies.


Minimizing travel restrictions for continued people-to-people exchanges:


Similarity between Cambodia and Korea’s COVID-19 response measures is that both countries have imposed minimum restrictions on international travel. As a result, direct flights are still operating 8 times a week between Korea and Cambodia. Even after March when the virus hit hard, more than 700 Cambodian workers were able to re-enter Korea through the Employment Permit System(EPS). These direct flights not only facilitate the movement of people between Cambodia and Korea, but also serve as means of transportation for people from Europe, United States or any other countries to travel to and from Cambodia.

Building resilience and preparing for the future


Cambodia-ROK COVID-19 cooperation is not limited to direct support for Cambodia’s medical response. Korea is seeking to help Cambodia build resilience to similar health threats in the future, by promoting the second phase of KOICA’s Infectious Disease Prevention Program($8.5M) from 2020 to 2025 with a view to strengthening the health systems to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases. In cooperation with USCDC, KOICA will help build capacity of public health personnel, including field epidemiologists and enhance emergency management capacity on national and sub-national levels in Cambodia.

COVID-19 has made cooperation among countries more important than ever. The Korean government will continue to work alongside Cambodia in order to overcome this crisis together.

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