Vietnam and RoK to elevate relationship to highest level: RoK Ambassador

WVR - Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Vietnam Park Noh Wan shared his thoughts with the World and Vietnam Report (WVR) on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of Vietnam's National Day (September 2, 1945-2022) and the establishment of Vietnam's Diplomatic sector (August 28, 1945-2022) on bilateral relations.
Quan hệ Hàn Quốc-Việt Nam: Cần tiến thêm một bước từ những thấu hiểu, tương đồng
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to Vietnam Park Noh Wan shared his thoughts with the World and Vietnam Report (WVR) on Vietnam-RoK ties. (Photo: WVR)

What do you think of socio-economic development in Vietnam and the contribution of the diplomatic sector to the country’s development process?

Being a diplomat from the Republic of Korea (RoK), I had opportunities to work once in Ho Chi Minh City, three times in Hanoi, where I also studied at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. As a result, I have spent a total of 13 years in Vietnam since the 1990s and had the privilege of witnessing Vietnam's brilliant socio-economic development and the government's efforts to promote such developments.

Since the implementation of the Doi Moi policy in 1986, Vietnam has successfully opened up and maintained rapid growth, which has continued even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vietnam is aiming to become a high-income country by 2045. This remarkable socio-economic development of Vietnam is based on a stable management of the domestic and international environment and active cooperation with other nations in the world. Through that process, close cooperation with other countries, especially between Korea and Vietnam, has naturally and obviously played an important role.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral cooperation has developed substantively, inclusively and brought about breakthroughs in both bilateral and multilateral aspects. Now the two countries have become each other's most important partners. What is your opinion about this assessment?

I definitely agree. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, the relationship between Korea and Vietnam has developed in many sectors over the past 30 years. This relationship has formed more rapidly and profoundly than any other bilateral cooperation in the world.

The most obvious evidence of the extensive cooperation between these two countries is that the trade turnover has reached 80.69 billion USD in 2021, a 161-fold increase from 500 million USD in 1992. People-to-people exchanges have risen to 4.9 million arrivals in 2019, which is 2,450 times greater than 2,000 arrivals in 1992. Korea became the biggest foreign investor and the third largest trading partner of Vietnam while Vietnam became the fourth largest trading partner and the largest ODA cooperator of Korea.

With those unprecedented achievements, the two countries are now making efforts to elevate the relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Partnership, the highest level in bilateral relations.

I praise the relationship that has developed at the highest level between the two countries. However, we can’t help but think of potential areas to continue expanding and strengthening our cooperation. The two countries are working together to achieve the target of a trade turnover of 100 billion USD by 2023 and 150 billion USD by 2030. They are expected to cooperate more closely in new areas such as health care, climate change, economic security, supply chains, national defense, defense industry, international and regional cooperation, and many others.

In the coming time, what do you think the governments and businesses of the two countries should do to help Vietnam achieve its goal of economic recovery in the post-pandemic period, maintain sustainable growth and realize Vietnam’s commitment of net-zero emissions at COP26?

The Republic of Korea is Vietnam’s largest foreign investor. The investment scale of Korea in Vietnam temporarily slowed down due to the impact of the pandemic. In the first half of 2022, the economy recovered up to 97% compared to the pre-pandemic period (in 2019), as the pandemic was partly under control. Currently, investment is expanding at pre-pandemic rates. Korean businesses are continuing to invest in Vietnam, where there is an ideal investment environment of expanded localization, with a symbiotic cooperation platform with Vietnamese businesses.

I think that, in the long term, in order to lead the economic recovery and boost the growth of Vietnam, we should focus more on improving technological competitiveness and enhancing added value for Vietnamese enterprises. LG's Center for Research and Development, Vietnam-RoK's Institute of Science and Technology Research, and Samsung's R&D Center (to be inaugurated soon) are typical examples of the symbiosis that will make a great contribution to the nurturing and development of supporting industries - the central industrial policy of Vietnam.

In the coming time, if the governments of the two countries cooperate closely, assist in policy making, and promote public-private economic cooperation in many fields, businesses of the two countries will be able to prosper together in the global economic value chains.

On the other hand, to develop not only in quantity but also in quality, it is necessary for the Vietnamese government to strengthen cooperation in potential industries. The two countries should contribute to Vietnam's sustainable growth and carbon neutrality target by 2050 via jointly implementing projects together in the field of ICT, taking advantage of the fourth industrial revolution for the digital transformation of the economy, building green industries such as new renewable energy to respond to climate change, implementing infrastructure construction projects, and other actions on the basis of cooperation between the two governments.

Vietnam and RoK to elevate relationship to highest level: Ambassador
The Korean Embassy held the Korean Cultural Road Event in April 2022. (Photo: The Korean Embassy in Vietnam)

Many countries around the world, including Vietnam, have seen South Korea's cultural diplomacy as a great success. Could you please share RoK’s experience in developing cultural diplomacy? How have the Embassy's activities contributed to that success?

The Korean government is making great efforts to promote the beautiful culture of Korea to the world and expand cultural exchanges between Korea and other countries, including Vietnam. More specifically, the Korean government is supporting the activities of not only Korean Embassies but also government representative agencies such as the Korean Cultural Center, the Korea Creative Content Agency, Korea Copyright Commission, Korea Tourism Organization, and others.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Korean Embassy held the Korean Cultural Road Event in April 2022 and the K-pop Festival in July 2022.

In the coming time, we plan to organize many street festivals and large-scale cultural and economic exchange events, such as the Korea Viet Lantern Festival at Hoan Kiem district park in September, Hallyu K-EXPO Exhibition at the National Convention Center; Hallyu Korea Brand and Entertainment Expo at the International Exhibition Center in October, Korean and Vietnamese Food Culture Festival at Tran Van Lai Street, My Dinh, and Korea-Vietnam Culture and Tourism Exhibition at Hoan Kiem District Park in December.

Both the Korean public and private sectors have worked together in partnership with other countries, including Vietnam, to promote mutual understanding and co-prosperity in the world.

What do you think about the cooperation between the Korean Embassy and departments and agencies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam in contributing to the development of relations between the two countries?

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam have been cooperating closely since the two countries established their diplomatic relations. High-level exchanges between the two countries have occurred regularly, including six state visits to Vietnam by the President of RoK, three visits to the RoK by the Vietnamese General Secretary, and two visits to the RoK by the Vietnamese State President. The annual “Meet-Korea” event connects Vietnamese local provinces and Korean businesses in Vietnam. Based on this foundation, we hope the relationship between Korea and Vietnam will be elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Partnership this year.

We can embrace our cultural and institutional differences so as to further deepen our emotional bond through a better understanding of each other.

The Korean Embassy will also continue to work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam and interact with the party and government agencies at all levels (such as the CPV Central Committee's Commission for External Relations, the National Assembly, and various ministries). This interaction will act as a catalyst to strengthen relations between the two countries in regard to economic security and supply chains, economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, labor cooperation, climate change response, infrastructure, science, technology, and ICT cooperation, energy cooperation, health and education training, and cultural exchange.

As we approach the 30th anniversary of Korea and Vietnam's diplomatic relationship, the two countries can further their relationship by taking steps to emphasize cultural similarities and minimize the potential negative side effects of rapidly formed relationships. At the same time, we can embrace our cultural and institutional differences so as to further deepen our emotional bond through a better understanding of each other.

With a better mutual understanding that serves as the foundation of our relationship, the differences can rather help us perfect our relationship. In this process, cooperation between the Embassy of the RoK and the Vietnamese party and government is more important than ever.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to Vietnam for supporting and coordinating with the Korean Embassy for the development of relations between the two countries. I firmly believe that the cooperation between the two countries will continue to develop in the future.

Thank you very much, Ambassador.

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(Translated by Gia Nguyen)