High-level PartnershipReading Time: 5 minute
His Excellency Kim Yong-Ho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Romania, intends to take the strategic partnership between the two countries to the next level, particularly since 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
How would you characterise the bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and Romania?
The two countries built a solid and promising partnership in a relatively short time, as of 1990, when diplomatic relations were established. Governmental and parliamentary bilateral visits were active, economic cooperation grew, and the Korean culture – not only K-Pop, but also traditional culture, such as dancing, traditional outfits and gastronomy – is very popular among the Romanian youth, which leads to vibrant exchanges between the citizens of the two countries. However, there is quite a high potential for an even closer cooperation between our countries. Romania, on the one hand, which is abundant in natural and human resources, and South Korea on the other hand, abundant in technology and know-how, could optimise their synergies by having an even more developed relation. And, because 2020 will mean 30 years of diplomatic relations, the Embassy will make all efforts to take the bilateral relation to the next level.
How strong is the economic cooperation between the two countries and how can it be improved?
Our active economic relations have continued to grow throughout the years. Let us remember that Daewoo, one of the greatest Korean business conglomerates, was one of the first foreign companies to invest in Romania, in the ship industry and the car manufacturing one. In 2018, the commercial exchange volume was around USD 1 billion, 50 times higher than 30 years ago. Products subject to the exchange are the following: motor vehicles, car parts and mechanical parts. Furthermore, South Korean investments in Romania continuously grew and have reached USD 1.1 billion. The main investment fields were the car industry, IT and renewable energy. 260 Korean companies operate in Romania. In the future years, the diversification of economic cooperation shall be vital to the Improvement of the economic sector. In order to reach this outcome, we need to be aware of the two countries’ merits and to explore ways of maximising our joint actions. There are many fields entailing a huge potential for cooperation, such as nuclear energy, infrastructure and agriculture.
What is the Republic of Korea’s vision about national and international developments?
The Korean Government is mainly interested in consolidating peace In the Korean Peninsula and to contribute to the peace dialogue and generate long-term stability In North-Eastern Asia. The South Korean Government has furthered dialogue with North Korea, and it will find a way to achieve full denuclearisation, leading to ongoing peace in the Peninsula. In this respect, the Republic of Korea and Romania have made joint efforts throughout the years. Moreover, South Korea intends to focus on the wealth of communities in the Korean Peninsula, East Asia, as well as working partnerships with its neighbours throughout the whole of Asia. Meanwhile, through the New Southern policy launched by President Moon Jae-in, during 25-27 November, the ASEAN Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the Mekong – Republic of Korea Summit, celebrating 30 years of partnership with ASEAN, which will act as an opportunity to consolidate relations as part thereof, held in Busan.
What is the significance of our countries’ strategic partnership?
The partnership provides a framework for the consolidation of bilateral cooperation on all fronts. The Joint Declaration adopted in 2008 stipulates that our countries shall continue to expand their political, economic, social and cultural relations and cooperate Internationally. In 2010, the Joint Declaration was followed by a concrete action plan, as part of which we have regular consultations concerning the working method and cooperation by each particular field. As part of the celebration of the 30 years of diplomatic relations, the two countries intend to strengthen this strategic partnership, by way of high-level visits.
This is the only partnership of this kind Romania has with an Asian country. How would you explain this special relation between our countries?
Economic cooperation between the two countries grew remarkably during a relatively short period of time as of the establishment of the diplomatic relations – the volume of economic exchanges has grown 50 times. Moreover, our countries’ governments have developed a very good relationship, which can be explained by way of an intense activity, such as high-level visits. Mr. Traian Băsescu visited South Korea four times – in 1994, 2005, 2008, and in 2012, whereas Mr. Roh Moo-hyun, former President of the Republic of South Korea visited Romania in 2006. Both countries became aware of the numerous cooperation fields resulting from the close political and economic relations This led to the foundation of the strategic partnership, and our countries will further efforts to develop this partnership.
Upon presenting your letters of credence, you also said something about developing economic relations. What is your take on these relations?
There is a huge potential to expand and diversify economic cooperation. In particular, Korean companies are highly interested in taking part in the nuclear plant project, as well as in infrastructure modernisation projects – the underground, motorways and tramcars. Participation in these major projects is not only a turning point, but it will impact also other economic cooperation fields, which means more Korean companies will come here and be evermore present in Romania.
What are the foreign policy agreements as part of which South Korea collaborates with Romania?
South Korea and Romania share the same values, such as the market economy and democracy. For this reason, our bilateral relation has been expanded to the level of international cooperation. Romania has been a trustworthy partner of South Korea in terms of achieving peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and other multilateral agreements. As a member of the OECD since 1995, the Republic of South Korea is an active supporter of Romania’s candidacy to become a member of the OECD. Our countries share the same vision in what concerns several fields, such as human rights, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, cybersecurity, etc. In recent years, our countries have joined efforts to work together as part of several multilateral initiatives, such as the Warsaw Process and the Community of Democracies (with Romania as acting President during 2019 and 2021).
What is the Korean companies’ perception of the Romanian economic environment?
The said companies are aware of the huge economic potential of Romania. As one of the strongest emerging European economy, Romania has very well-trained human resources, natural resources, a very big domestic market, given its size and its population, as well as its strategic location connecting Asia to Europe. Particularly, as an EU member state, Romania is seen as a bridge to Korean companies which intend to become more present in Europe. Nonetheless, it is true that the presence of Korean companies In Romania is lower compared to Central European countries like Poland and Hungary. The modernisation of transport infrastructure -particularly of motorways and the improvement of legislative predictability and regulations concerning investments, as well as of economic policies will definitely assist Korean companies to expand investments in Romania.
What are the challenges the Embassy is dealing with?
Thanks to the hospitality of the Romanian people and the very close cooperation with the Government, we feel welcome and comfortable with carrying out our activity here. We intend to benefit both countries the best of results, bearing in mind national interest, despite our relatively limited presence here, as far as the Embassy representation level is concerned.
What are the main elements comprising your diplomatic mission in the near future?
Next year, the Republic of Korea and Romania will celebrate 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. It is our number one priority to take this opportunity to further our bilateral cooperation, in both political and economic terms, as well as to expand our strategic partnership. Furthermore, I am and adept of public diplomacy, which I greatly emphasise, with the purpose of reaching people’s minds and souls, I will continue to interact and communicate with the Romanian people by organising various cultural events, as well as vivify the already existing events. We successfully organised various cultural events, such as the K-Lovers Festival, Korean Jazz Night in Bucharest and Korean Movie Night in Bucharest, Timișoara and Iași, by screening the Korean film „Parasite”, winner of the 2019 Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes. Moreover, the Embassy also has a social media page, so as to make It possible to reach the Romanian people.
“Romania, on the one hand, which is abundant in natural and human resources, and South Korea on the other hand, abundant in technology and know-how, could optimise their synergies by having an even more developed relation.”, Kim Yong-Ho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Bucharest
Translated by https://www.traduce.re