Published : 2013-09-10 20:52
Updated : 2013-09-10 20:52
Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1992, South Korea and Vietnam have forged a successful partnership at a rapid pace hardly seen in any other bilateral relationship.
Trade volume between the two nations increased 44-fold over the past two decades to $21.6 billion last year. Vietnam is home to about 1,800 Korean companies and the No. 1 recipient of Seoul’s official development aid. In turn, some 53,000 Vietnamese workers stay in Korea and more than 40,000 women from the Southeast Asian country are married to Korean men.
In a reflection of this close and multilayered relationship, South Korea and Vietnam are often called “twin countries” or “in-law countries.”
It was similar historical and cultural backgrounds, intimate sentiments between their peoples and mutually complementary economic structures that have enabled the two sides to form such successful collaborative ties. Both countries deserve praise for having kept the commitment they made in 1992 to bury their bitter past ― South Korea sent a combined 310,000 soldiers to fight in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s ― in pursuit of forward-looking relations.
President Park Geun-hye’s five-day state visit to Vietnam, which started last Saturday, was timely and set another keystone for enhancing bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
During their summit Tuesday, Park and her Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang agreed to conclude a bilateral trade agreement next year and strengthen cooperation in the Southeast Asian nation’s nuclear power development. The Vietnamese leader also pledged to render support for South Korean companies trying to take part in a series of energy and infrastructure projects.
To build up a true partnership based on accomplishments over the past two decades, South Korea should be committed to making more significant and useful contributions to the advancement of the Southeast Asian country, half of whose population is under 25 years old. Notable among Seoul’s development aid projects for Vietnam is the plan to establish a science and technology institute, known as V-KIST, modeled after the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
The Vietnamese leader agreed with Park during their summit that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program posed a grave threat to peace and stability in East Asia and beyond. It should be noted that the two countries have the potential to further promote security cooperation to jointly navigate through the mounting U.S.-China rivalry.