Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will make a two-day state visit to Seoul next week, marking the first presidential visit to the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheong Wa Dae announced Thursday.
Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia, is one of the key partners in the nation’s New Northern Policy, which seeks to strengthen cooperation with Central Asian countries under a vision of peace and prosperity in Eurasia.
The Kazakh president is expected to arrive Aug. 16 and hold a summit with President Moon Jae-in on Aug. 17. He also plans to meet with business leaders before a dinner banquet later in the day.
Moon and Tokayev have held one summit before, in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan, during Moon’s three-day state visit in April 2019.
At their upcoming summit, the leaders will review the progress of bilateral cooperation projects and explore other areas to bolster the bilateral partnership.
During the first summit, the two countries signed an agreement launching a “Fresh Wind” program, involving cooperation in diverse areas including ICT, transportation and infrastructure.
“The upcoming visit is expected to further the strategic partnership between the two countries ahead of the 30th anniversary of bilateral ties next year,” Moon’s spokesperson Park Kyung-mi said in a briefing.
On the occasion of the presidential visit, the remains of Hong Beom-do, a legendary Korean independence fighter, also will be brought back home, the presidential office said.
Hong, general commander of the Korean independence army during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule, led the Fengwudong battle of 1920, Korea’s first great victory against Japanese troops. He died in Kazakhstan in 1943 at age 75 and was buried there.
Kazakhstan is home to some 100,000 ethnic Koreans, or Koryoins, whose families were expelled from Stalinist Russia in the 1930s and forced to settle across Central Asia. Many of those settlers were independence fighters.
There were plans to repatriate Hong’s remains last year, but those plans were delayed along with the presidential visit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The two leaders also plan to attend a ceremony honoring Hong on Aug. 17 before his remains are laid to rest at the Daejeon National Cemetery the next day.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org