Pakistan-Korea Diplomatic Relations
Pakistan and Korea are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their bilateral relations this year (1983-2023). Relations between the two countries in the fields of trade, investment, education, culture, and sports have strengthened in the past decades and presently growing in many fields of daily life from economic trade investment and more especially cultural and people to people interaction as a good number of Pakistani Students are studying in Korean universities & their numbers are increasing every year.
The present Korean Ambassador in Pakistan Suh Sangpyo is very active in further developing Korean-Pakistan relations from education, and culture to economic and commercial interactions and mentions that “Pakistan is a rapidly growing country with more than 200 million population and abundant natural resources. Located between the Middle East and Asia and as a country the ancient Silk Road passed through, it is geopolitically getting more important. Moreover, Pakistan, where the Indus Civilization began, has a rich and diverse cultural heritage such as the MohenjoDaro civilization, the Gandhara Buddhist Arts, and Islamic Traditions. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1983, the bilateral ties between the two countries have been enlarged substantially in the areas of trade, investment, human exchange, and development cooperation. Nevertheless, considering the immense potential of Pakistan, the current level of ties is not sufficient and needs to be upgraded. He assured that Korean Government will spare no efforts to support all the people who are interested in enhancing relations between Korea and Pakistan”:. This clear and loud statement of the Chief Korean Diplomat in Pakistan clearly shows their attachment and seriousness to further enhance both countries’ relationship for the mutual benefit of both nations.
The Republic of Korea or commonly known as South Korea is one of the most developed economies and having technological advancement is the tenth largest economy in the world with a GDP of 2.76 trillion dollars. Despite this, the trade volume between Pakistan and Korea is approximately 1.9 billion dollars. From an economic and business perspective, there are currently more than 800 Korean citizens living in Pakistan, while 20 plus Korean companies are also investing in Pakistan. The demand for Korean vehicles is also increasing rapidly recently. Korea is playing a vital role in helping Pakistan with its economic front. With the help of 350 million US dollar loans given by Korea on soft terms, 5 development projects are ongoing in Pakistan while The IT Park in Islamabad has already been completed with the support of Korea. Now the construction of a similar park is going on in Karachi, which is not only a source of employment but also a source of development in technology. The Korean company is also building a modern children’s hospital in Sukkar and it is expected that the amount of the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund will be increased to one billion dollars in the next five years. South Korea has given more than 3 million dollars to help flood victims in Pakistan, while Korean companies given 5 millions dollars. The number of Pakistani workers in South Korea is relatively less compared to European countries. 10,000 Pakistani citizens are employed in various cities including Seoul, while 1,500 Pakistani students are studying in Korean universities. Pakistan has enough manpower in other sectors too, which we want to send to Korea. Both countries agree to export Pakistani manpower in other sectors such as agriculture, services, and fisheries and especially in IT. Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) is the only government agency authorized to implement this employment system in Pakistan. At that time, OEC Korean Language Training became the most outstanding Korean language training center in Pakistan.
Presently leading internationally renowned Korean brands like DAEWOO, KEPCO (Electric). Sambu Construction Co. Ltd, DOOSAN Korea Midland Power Company Limited (KOMIPO) Korea Electric Power Hyundai and KIA Motors, Samsung, LG, LOTTE Group, Star Hydropower Limited (SHPL) POSCO,CK Solar,K-Water, and many others Korean multinationals are looking for investment and business opportunities in Pakistan collectively they direct and indirect business relations opportunities further enhanced the not only foreign investment here but also the economic relationship will further improved.
Korea wants to increase financing for the development of IT sector, social sector and infrastructure projects in Pakistan. Under the financing of 343 million dollars from the Bank of Korea, five development projects are currently underway, including Islamabad Technology Park, Chitral Road, Chakdara-Timergara Road, Malakand Tunnel and Children’s Hospital in Sukkur. The Pakistani Minister has announced various development projects by the Korean government and to combat the covid-19 pandemic and locust disease in Pakistan. Appreciated their increased support for disaster management including disaster management. On the occasion of the meeting, a loan agreement was also signed for the establishment of an IT park in Karachi. The total cost of the project is about $199 million, out of which Korean Exim Bank will provide $158 million. The project aims to provide high-tech infrastructure for the IT sector through which IT companies can improve each other’s skills and promote entrepreneurship in Pakistan. The IT Park will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for national and international IT firms to set up their offices in Karachi. During the initiative, a high-level officer from both sides attaches great importance to its relations with Korea. They appreciate the efforts of the Korean Exim Bank for possible projects in health care, road infrastructure development, the IT sector, and mitigation of climate change. Discussed the future roadmap to mobilize financing for projects and speed up the implementation of projects.
In short in the recent past, the Korean Ambassador Suh Sangpyo, apart from socio-economic relationships strengthen specially focused on Cultural Heritage and Korea new initiative at the highest level which was very much appreciated as the soft image of Pakistan as a land of Cultural connectivity with the rest of the world further enhanced. Korean Government also donates funds for the purpose.
The above discussion proves that the leadership of Pakistan and South Korea wants good commercial, economic, and social relations in the future; therefore the efforts made by both sides for the mutual reconciliation of citizens will benefit both countries. We, it is hoped that the leadership of South Korea and Pakistan will further improve diplomatic relations for the betterment of their people.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])