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Yoon eyes security ties in Vietnam for state visit

By Shin Ji-hye, Son Ji-hyoung

Published : June 22, 2023 - 16:06

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from right) and first lady Kim Keon Hee disembark Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam for a state visit Thursday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from right) and first lady Kim Keon Hee disembark Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam for a state visit Thursday. (Yonhap)

HANOI, Vietnam -- President Yoon Suk Yeol begun his three-day state visit in Vietnam on Thursday, seeking to further upgrade the bilateral relations through a summit with his Vietnamese counterpart, Vo Van Thuong, and a series of events aimed at bolstering economic and cultural partnerships.

Upon his arrival, he met with overseas Koreans living in Vietnam, expressing his optimism for the future of their relationship.

In a meeting with approximately 300 Koreans at a hotel in Hanoi, Yoon expressed that his swift visit to Vietnam following former President Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to Korea in December of last year "demonstrates the friendship between the two countries that has grown deeper than ever."

"Vietnam is a key partner of the Republic of Korea in fostering freedom, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said, emphasizing that the two countries have made “remarkable progress” over the last 30 years since establishing diplomatic ties.

“My visit today will be the starting point for the next 30 years of bilateral relations,” Yoon said.

Though the two countries have different political systems, the Communist Party-ruled country upholds the international order based on norms and maintains a predictable and mutually beneficial relationship with South Korea, Yoon's spokesperson, Kim Eun-hye, told reporters.

Yoon is anticipated to emphasize the “limitless possibilities for cooperation” between the two countries when he meets the Vietnamese leadership on Friday, with an expectation of further upgrading the existing comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, according to Kim.

Vietnam marks the first ASEAN nation Yoon is visiting for a bilateral summit.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, trade between the two countries has increased by 175-fold, and mutual visitors have grown by 2,400 times. Korea stands as the largest investor in Vietnam, with major conglomerates such as Samsung, LG, SK, Hyundai and Lotte present. The some 170,000 Koreans in Vietnam and 230,000 Vietnamese nationals in Korea further highlight the deepening ties and people-to-people connections between the two countries.

Yoon’s trip to Hanoi was accompanied by Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group chief Chung Euisun and LG Group leader Koo Kwang-mo.

After meeting with overseas Koreans, Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee spoke to Vietnamese students learning Korean and their teachers in an all-Korean conversation, without the help of interpreters. His office said the meeting was an opportunity to affirm that Hangeul offers a basis for deepening the ties between future generations of two countries. The president also visited the Korea-Vietnam Partnership Expo, where he browsed a wide range of products and services from Korean firms, including Hyundai Motor's electric vehicle Ioniq 5, the LG Omnipod, an autonomous vehicle internal electrical system, as well as Vietnam's first secondhand motorbike mobile trading platform called OKXE.

Later in the evening, the presidential couple attended the Korea-Vietnam Cultural Exchange Night, which featured K-pop singers, including members from boy groups Monsta X and AB6IX. At the event held to foster friendship and harmony among future generations, around 3,000 individuals, including government and business officials from both countries, attended along with Hallyu fans from Vietnam, trainees from Korean-related educational institutions, as well as Korean students studying in Vietnam.