Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Dr Song Jong-hwan has said that Pakistan and Korea are tied in decades-old historic, warm, friendly relations and both the governments were making sincere efforts to cement the friendly relations and make them stronger.
Dr Song expressed these views while addressing the participants of a reception held to greet the new first secretary and consul to the Embassy Kook Kim and to bid farewell to the outgoing second secretary and consul, Park Jae Woo.
Dr Song said that Korean government was providing funds for construction of an ICT Park in Islamabad.
“Korea is also constructing a road network in Peshawar and also providing scholarships to the bright students in Sindh. We are also making efforts to increase the bilateral trade under KOTRA,” the envoy added.
Greeting the people of Pakistan on the Independence Day, Dr Song said that the peoples and the government of Korea wishes for a prosperous Pakistan.
“I’ve been here for more than two years. During this period, I have done my level best to boost the bilateral relations which are more broadened between the governments and peoples of both the countries, while culture and peoples-to-people contacts have been my prime focus. Park J Woo is now going to Germany, after being promoted as first secretary. Kim is coming from Chennai, India. Hope he will play his role in fostering bilateral relations,” he added.
He said both Korea and Pakistan got independence at around the same time: Pakistan was born on August 14, 1947 while the Korean government was established on August 15, 1948.
“Even though Korea and Pakistan are far away geographically, there are many similarities between our countries. We both give importance to hospitality and respect for elders. The Korean language and Urdu share the same sentence structure and many common words like ‘Abu-ji’, ‘Amma’ and ‘Ammi’,” the ambassador added.
He said the relations between our people date back to the fourth century when Maranantha, a famous Buddhist monk, studied Buddhism in Taxila and then introduced Buddhism to Korea.
“Maranantha hailed from Chota Lahore in Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Another famous Korean monk, Heycho, visited this area in the 8th century. He wrote a travelogue named ‘Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Kingdoms of the Subcontinent’ which includes present day Kashmir, Gilgit and Peshawar,” he added.
Dr Song said that during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, Pakistan provided humanitarian assistance to Korea. So our association is historic and provides solid ground to build a strong and durable friendship for the future, he added.
Korean envoy said that Korea built the iconic M2 Motorway between Islamabad and Lahore in the 1990s. “Today, Korea is increasingly investing in Pakistan’s infrastructure and development projects. These include hydro-power projects which will provide much needed electricity to Pakistan, tunnels and roads which will help link Pakistan to Central Asia. Korea has always stood by Pakistan like a true friend. Korea provided economic assistance for flood victims and IDPs. We also are planning to provide Pakistan with a 500 million dollar ‘Economic Development Cooperation Fund’ from 2015 to 2017,” he added.
He said due to the visionary leaders and the hard work of the Korean people, Korea is a major economic power in the world.
“Korean per capita income in 1960 was less than $80. Now Korean per capita income is more than 28000 dollars. Korea’s trade volume has been more than a trillion dollars since 2010. This is called the ‘Miracle of the Han River’,” he added.
Dr Song said it was my wish to see a similar ‘Miracle of the Indus River’ in Pakistan. “God has given Pakistan the second highest mountains in the world as well as a deep sea-like Indian Ocean. Pakistan has a strategic location, abundant natural resources, population and land. Pakistan also has talented and skilled labor. All these reasons convince me Pakistan can achieve its own Miracle of the Indus River,” he added.
Addressing the gathering, Kim said that he was coming from India where he tried his level best to serve the people.
“Pakistan is close to my heart. I will leave no stone unturned to play my role in fostering the peoples to peoples contacts between Korea and Pakistan,” he added. He said Park had done a great job during his period and he would like to carry the threads from the same place where Park had left.