Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Annyonghasimnikka (Korean Greeting)
I am the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, Santhush Woonjin JEONG.
October 3rd is the National Foundation Day of the Republic of Korea (Gaecheonjeol). I am very pleased to celebrate the National Foundation Day together with Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan people. We are now at a critical juncture in our fight against Covid-19 pandemic. No one and no country is strong enough alone. Under the ‘Stay Strong’ campaign initiated by the Korean government, Korea and Sri Lanka have been strengthening Anti-COVID collaboration with each other.
Korea will always stand with Sri Lanka. It is heartening to witness the love and support by Sri Lankans and Koreans on the occasion of Korea’s National Foundation Day. I deeply appreciate your celebrations and encouragement. I would like to invite you all to our National Foundation Day festival. (Uploaded on “Korean Embassy in Sri Lanka” YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/KoreanEmbassyinSriLanka)
The Republic of Korea, the Land of the Morning Calm, had once suffered from extreme poverty in the aftermath of the Korean War in the 1950s. Despite these challenges, Korean people have achieved full-fledged democracy and noteworthy economic growth simultaneously within a few decades with their indomitable diligence, hard work, and passion for education. Korea witnessed a remarkable growth in the gross national income per capita which had increased nearly 500-fold, 67 US dollars in 1953 to 31,489 dollars in 2020.
The eye-opening progress in economy and democracy is often acclaimed as ‘The Miracle on the Han River’. As the 10th largest economy and the 7th largest exporter in the world, Korea is home to numerous global enterprises such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG. The strength of these world-renowned enterprises also powered the Korean economy to rise from ashes into a global economic powerhouse.
Korea, once an international aid recipient, has now become an aid donor and it is the first donor country coming from recipient countries. Also, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) unanimously raised Korea’s status from a developing country to a developed country on July 2 this year, which is the first case of upgrade by the agency since its inception in 1964.
This achievement wouldn’t have been made possible without international support. Korea is thankful to the international society including Sri Lanka for the support and cooperation extended to Korea in the past. Now the time has come for Korea to repay by joining the global efforts to assist developing countries.
On the occasion of celebrating the National Foundation Day I would like to emphasise that this year marks the 44th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Sri Lanka. Over the years the two countries have developed to be important key partners in the fields of economy, trade and investment and have been continuing to establish solid cooperation in various fields such as energy, culture, automobile industry, labour cooperation and agriculture on the mutual trust and respect.
Sri Lanka is one of Korea’s priority ODA cooperation partner countries. The sum of investment in various ODA projects and grants for Sri Lanka since 1987 is over 600 million USD. Korea Exim bank, entrusted by the Korean Government, has provided Sri Lanka with loans worth of USD 848 million for 28 projects since 1990. Among ongoing projects, medical equipment sector development project and Kandy tunnel construction project will greatly benefit the development trajectory of Sri Lanka.
The trade relations between Korea and Sri Lanka continue to expand positively. In 2020, the volume of exports from Sri Lanka to Korea has increased 10 percent from USD 100 million in 2019 to USD 110 million 2020. This increase is an exceptional case amid the worldwide economic depression due to COVID -19 pandemic.
Korea is extremely keen on boosting two-way trade and investment in ways that benefit the economies of both countries. Like Korea’s economic miracle, so called ‘The Miracle on Han River,’ I strongly believe that Sri Lanka will also be transformed to “the Miracle on Kelani River.” Korea will be with Sri Lanka as a reliable friend in this journey of achieving economic prosperity.
Culture is pivotal in strengthening ties between the two countries. To encourage cultural relations, despite COVID-19, the Korean Embassy has organized various cultural events such as K-pop world Festival 2021, Korean Speech Contest and Ambassador’s Cup Taekwondo Championship online. Also, Korean Embassy recruited Korea-Sri Lanka SNS supporters 2021 in recognition of the expanding role the youth plays in promoting people to people exchanges between our countries.
This year has been remarkable in the field of education. Thanks to the growing interest in Korean language among the Sri Lankan people, Korean language has been officially adopted as a foreign language in the advanced level curriculum from 2021 and students can sit for the Korean language examination in the university entrance examination by 2023. This progress has been well backed up by conducting an online capacity building programme for Korean language teachers in the advanced level classes.
Since last year the public health cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka has been robust and strengthening anti-COVID collaboration under the “Stay Strong” campaign initiated by the Korean government. In terms of anti-COVID support, the Korean government provided test kits worth of $300,000 in 2020. This year, in partnership with UNICEF, the Korean government donated USD 230,000 worth of anti COVID-19 face masks to Sri Lanka and $500,000 worth of anti-COVID-19 items are being donated to Sri Lanka.
Throughout many years, Korea and Sri Lanka have maintained their close relationship. Like my Sri Lankan name “Santhush” which means happiness, Korea would like to share happiness together with Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan people.
Let’s stay strong together. Ksorea and Sri Lanka Live Together!