”The National Foundation Day of the Republic of Korea falls on October 3rd. This holiday celebrates the “Opening of Heaven (Gaecheon in Korean),” which symbolizes the creation of the state of Gojoseon (ancient Korea) in the year 2333 BC. The nation’s founding principle is to “benefit broadly the whole of humanity (Hongikingan in Korean).” Following this founding principle throughout their 5,000-year history, the Korean people have exhibited remarkable ingenuity, courage and fortitude while always maintaining their love of peace and harmony, caring for humanity, and retaining their national identity despite innumerable national disasters and a great deal of sufferings.
It is against such a backdrop and thanks to the tireless efforts of the Korean people as well as the assistance of the international community that Korea was able to rise from the ashes of the Korean War (1950-53) in a short span of time to become an economic powerhouse. As a result, Korea has been able to transform itself from an aid-receiving country to a donor country. This success story is called the “Miracle on the Han River.”
H.E. Madame Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea, is now determined to achieve a “Second Miracle on the Han River” through her vision of a Creative Economy. In February of this year, President Park announced her “Three-year Plan for Economic Innovation.” With the help of the plan, Korea aims to overcome the so-called middle income trap by raising its annual per-capita income level to in excess of 30,000 U.S. Dollars and from there on to 40,000 U.S. Dollars. Korea is also making every effort to become an economic hub bilaterally, regionally and globally through its expanding FTA network, which covers 50 countries. Once the ongoing FTA negotiations between Korea and China are successfully concluded, Korea will become the only country in the world to have an FTA with all three mega economies: the EU, the United States, and China.
Korea and Romania stand to gain huge benefits from closer bilateral ties. Thus, it is quite natural that Korea and Romania have deepened their relations in the political, economic, cultural and various other fields, particularly since both sides launched the Strategic Partnership Initiative in September 2008.
In this regard, closer cooperation in the economic and trade fields deserves our special attention. Korea fully recognizes Romania’s great potential for growth. Romania’s EU membership, its geo-economic location and its strong commitment to economic development as well as its highly educated and motivated population all work as valuable assets. Its strength in the field of IT, just like Korea, is yet another advantage. On top of this, both economies are complementary in nature. Therefore, closer economic and trade relations between our two countries can create a huge synergy effect that will result in a win-win outcome.
It is under these conditions that bilateral trade has increased more than six times over the past 13 years, with the period between 2000 and 2013 seeing a jump from US $188 million to US $1.2 billion. In the first eight months of this year, we also witnessed a 15.2% increase in our two-way trade volume, which amounts to US $810 million. Korea is now Romania’s second largest export market in Asia.
Some of the most promising areas for bilateral cooperation include energy, ITC, electronic and electrical components, semiconductors, automobile parts and components, agriculture, construction, and infrastructure. Bearing this in mind, both sides have been working closely together to convert each other’s great potential into reality.
In January of this year, in Bucharest, the governments of Korea and Romania held both the 7th Vice Ministerial-level Industrial Cooperation Committee and the Romania-Korea Business Forum in order to upgrade business and commercial exchanges. The Korea Trade Center in Bucharest and Renault-Dacia successfully hosted the 2nd Renault-Dacia Global Partnership in Bucharest in May, which added further momentum to the bilateral partnership in this important area of automobile parts and components. In the meantime, Romania successfully participated, for the very first time, in ‘Seoul Food – KINTEX – 2014,’ the third-largest such trade fair in Asia, with a national stand to introduce its premium wine products.
Tangible progress has also been made in the IT and environment-related sectors. In July, both governments successfully launched the IT Cooperation Center in Bucharest, which will take their three-year joint project forward. Korea will host one of the largest global events in the Information and Communications sector, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU PP-14), in Busan, from October 20 to November 7. We welcome the participation of the Romanian delegation, led by H.E. Mr. Alexandru Razvan Cotovelea, Minister of Information Society, in the international conference. On the sidelines of the ITU PP-14, both governments will exchange views on how to further promote cooperation in the field of IT.
In May, the Romanian Water Association (ARA), the City Hall of Bucharest, and other Romanian ordering bodies participated in the 7th GGHK (Global Green Hub Korea) which was held in Song Do, Incheon, to engage in discussions on ways to pursue joint projects in various areas, including water treatment, waste-water management, renewable energy, and other environment-related projects. The government and private-sector delegation, led by Vice Minister of Environment Jeong Yeon-man, expanded their cooperation networks with their Romanian counterparts through their visit to Bucharest last week, thereby further promoting cooperation in the fields of water treatment and waste management. Both governments also took advantage of Vice Minister Jeong’s visit to sign an MOU on Environmental Cooperation, which has opened a new chapter of partnership between Korea and Romania.
At the center of the deepening economic partnership between Seoul and Bucharest are a number of Korean companies operating in Romania, which include global firms such as Samsung, LG, Doosan, and Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries (DMHI) as well as other small and medium-sized companies. On August 26, DMHI launched a ship capable of transporting 6,500 vehicles. The naming ceremony for the ship, which was held at the DMHI shipyard on the Black Sea, was indeed a testament to a strong and promising partnership, with DMHI being one of the most representative joint ventures between Korea and Romania. The success of DMHI and other Korean companies will greatly contribute to Romania attracting more FDI from Korea.
It is critically important to foster and promote trust, peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, because doing so will have implications reaching far beyond the peninsula. Bearing this in mind, the Korean government has been implementing its basic policy agenda on the Korean Peninsula, such as Trustpolitik, the Korean Peninsula Trust-building Process, and the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI). Along these lines, President Park Geun-hye announced the “Dresden Declaration” when she visited Germany at the end of March. As a testimony to her vision of a unified Korea, President Park made a concrete, action-oriented proposal based on three agendas for humanity, co-prosperity and integration, respectively, designed to lay the foundation for peaceful unification on the Korean Peninsula.
On September 24, President Park made the most of her address to the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly to reaffirm the Korean government`s unswerving commitment to the main objectives of the United Nations, which are aimed at promoting world peace, security, human rights, and social and economic development. President Park also seized the opportunity to further enhance the international community`s understanding of, and broaden its support for, the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, which can be achieved through the trust-building process as well as the realization of the NAPCI, with measures to enhance mutual trust among nations in the region. We look forward to tangible progress being made soon. In this regard, the Romanian government’s continued constructive role and cooperation would be greatly appreciated.
Needless to say, cooperation in the cultural, educational, and scientific spheres forms another critical pillar of the Korea-Romania future-oriented strategic partnership. Considering this, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea has left no stone unturned in its efforts to introduce Korean culture, tradition, music, costume, dramas, and, of course, cuisine to a growing number of interested Romanians, with a view to promoting mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the two countries. As part of these efforts, the Embassy hosted a Korean Cultural Festival at the Romanian-American University on September 20, which further stimulated Romanian students’ and young people’s interest in and understanding of Hanryu (Korean Wave), K-pop and Korean cuisine. (To enjoy, please type “2014 Korean Cultural Festival in Bucharest” into YouTube). The Embassy will also hold a traditional Korean Music Festival at the Atheneum on October 7th in tandem with this year’s Korean National Day Reception.
We can hardly emphasize enough the importance of expanding people-to-people exchanges as both countries work hard to bring bilateral relations to new heights. Thus, the fact that more and more Koreans have recently been visiting Romania is most encouraging, with a total of 17,133 Koreans coming here in 2013. In the first nine months of this year, 13,892 Koreans visited Bucharest, Brasov and other beautiful towns and villages, with the number representing an overall increase of around 8% as compared with the corresponding period last year. These Koreans truly appreciate the beauty of Romania as well as the warm hospitality of its people.
Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Both governments will continue to work closely together to fully exploit this milestone event in order to further deepen the mutual understanding and friendship between the Republic of Korea and Romania. All I can say is, “The Best is Yet to Come!”