Korean Consul General in Karachi Kim Haksung has said the bilateral relations between Korea and Pakistan have an important turning point next year as both the countries would be celebrating 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2023. This he said while addressing the one-day international seminar titled “Pakistan-Korea bilateral relations: A way forward”, organized by Sindh University’s Area Study Centre, was held in the Auditorium Hall of Institute of Sindhology, University of Sindh (SU) Jamshoro here on Tuesday.

He said that despite good economic and business cooperation between Korea and Pakistan, the trade volume was unfortunately far-off from their expectations. The trade volume between the two nations remained just 1.3 billion $ last year, while the share of export volume of Korea to Pakistan was just 0.2pc during the entire year.

Chaired by Dean SU’s Faculty of Social Sciences Prof Dr Hamadullah Kakepoto, Director Area Study Centre Dr Mukesh Kumar Khatwani, Director Institute of Sindhology Ghulam Murtaza Siyal, Department of International Relations University of Karachi (UoK) Professor (Meritorious) Dr Monis Ahmer, Majid Ali Noonari, Dr Imran Noonari, Ghulam Murtaza Khoso, Prof Dr Shuja Ahmed Mahesar, Hansraj Hans, Dr Naima Tabasum, Dr Ishrat Abbasi, Dr Noreen Nazar Soomro and many others were present on the occasion.

The CG Kim Haksung further said that during his long diplomatic career until now he had been doing his best for enhancing bilateral relations and friendly cooperation with mutual understanding and respect.

He said his diplomatic mission in Karachi will strive to promote friendly cooperation and mutual exchange between Korea and Pakistan. The vibrant and energetic metropolis at Arabian Sea was of great importance for him and his staff as Karachi was a centre of their attention.

He said he thought that a diplomat must have a great interest in other cultures and a sense of solidarity and open-mindedness, adding that it was meaningful for him to have dialogues with Pakistani university students.

“I am sure that today’s event in Jamshoro- the Pakistan’s celebrated education city will be more successful with great contributions of the Vice-Chancellor, keynote speakers and Area Study Centre as well but I just want to emphasize that the active participation of young students is success factor No. 1 for this occasion”, he said.

He said Korea was a highly advanced country, which was a very successful story of economic development, prosperity and advancement in science and technology.

He stated that the Republic of Korea was the 10th largest economy in the world with a GDP of over 35,000 US$ per capita last year and it remained the 8th largest trade country, exporting 645 billion $, importing 481 billion dollars last year.

“People say that the economic achievement and prosperity of our country is a miracle but I say no, it’s not a miracle but it is the reflection of the dedication, hard work, commitment, vision and education passion”, the Korean CG said and added that education passion or fever was a driving force of Korea’s economic success story.

Recalling the past, he said in 1960, his country was one of the poorest countries of the world with a GDP of 150 US$ per capita, adding that after 3-year Korean War from 1950 to 1953, the country remained totally destroyed and devastated and there was extreme poverty everywhere in the country and those miserable conditions could not be described.

He said all school buildings had shattered as a result of the 3-year long war but the nation started street education under makeshift tents without stop and exception countrywide, adding that it was actually the start and guarantee of their triumph and prosperity.

Explaining his own childhood episode for the motivation of the students, the consul general said that he was born and grew up in a small island, southernmost area of the Korean peninsula while his father was a poor fisherman and farmer.

“My parents had very limited means for living. At that time living conditions in Korea were miserable and poverty was predominant”, he stated being a little emotional and added that his mother seldom would go to open markets in mainland towns to buy necessary things. All day long, he waited for her to come back from the market expecting something to eat but against his desperate anticipation, her mother handed him over some used dirty children storybooks.

He said her mother wanted to feed her hungry son but after heartbroken hesitation, she decided to opt for dirty and used story books instead of buying something for him to eat.

The CG said his mother’s decision to opt for dirty and used books for her son rather than buying something to eat was the start of the prosperous future of Korea. “My mother’s decision has brought me to Sindh University today”, he said.

He said with tremendous and heartbreaking economic prosperity, Korea had another great pride as it had become one of the cultural superpowers.

He added that he was sure that the Pakistani young generation must be fascinated by K-pop, K-drama, K-movie and other cultural attractions his country was offering.

The CG went on saying that the bilateral relations between Korea and Pakistan had an important turning point next year as both the nations would be celebrating 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

“Political relations between the two friendly countries are excellent. At the global stage, both the countries are in good cooperation”, Kim Haksung said and added that regarding the peace process on the Korean peninsula, Pakistani governments always stood for their country.

“Since the Korean War, South & North Korea are still technically at war”, he said and added that both the countries had not only a peace treaty but also a ceasefire agreement until then.

He said that the border between the both countries was heavily fortified and because of it, an unstable situation was there; however, it was of great importance to avoid war on the Korean peninsula and keep peace intact.

He said that Pakistan had a great demand and potential in its IT industry; therefore, Korea will have a good possibility of mutual cooperation in the IT industry between the two countries in the form of joint ventures.

“More than 10,000 Pakistani people are now living and working in our country. About 1500 Pakistani students are studying in Korea. Most of them are enrolled in masters or doctoral courses of business and engineering school of the world-class universities”, he maintained. The CG added that due to language barriers, the undergraduate Pakistani students did not seek admissions in the varsities because at the level, the medium of instruction was Korean language but the graduate courses were being offered in English language.

“Korea is a safe country especially for Pakistan’s female students, our country is ideal place for academic achievements”, he said.

In his presidential remarks, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Dr Hamadullah Kakepoto said that Pakistan and South Korea were friendly countries, but as Korea had come a long way in the race of development as a result of pursuing higher education.

“Now Korea should come forward and announce scholarships for providing higher education to the Pakistani students, especially students of Sindh having humble financial background and lack of facilities.

He said that Pakistan was still a developing country, if Korea opened the doors of large-scale admissions to its educational institutions for the Pakistani youth, then he said he was sure Pakistan will emerge economically in the next 20 years.

Professor (Meritorious) of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi Dr Monis Ahmar said that Pakistan needed to learn from Korea. If the country focused on an 8-point agenda like the Republic of Korea including visionary leadership, planning, good governance, rule of law, excellent education & health care system, innovation, political stability and human & social development, the day was not far when Pakistan would join the ranks of developed countries.

Director Area Study Center Dr Mukesh Kumar Khatwani said that the Consulate of Korea in Karachi should start joint academic and research projects with the Area Study Center of the University of Sindh so that the youth of Sindh could have the best opportunities.

In the seminar, Dr Ronaq Ali Bihan presented his research paper titled “Pakistan-Korea Bilateral Relations: The Way Forward”. Dr Ghulam Ali Buriro conducted the proceedings of the seminar.

The seminar also featured two short videos on Korean culture, highlighting Korean history, music and dance.

Earlier, at the outset of the seminar, Nazar Hussain Chandio recited the Holy Quran, after which the National Anthem of Pakistan and then Korea was played. All the participants in the hall stood in respect of national anthems of the two countries. The guests were also decorated with Sindh’s traditional gifts Ajrak and they were given memento shields on the occasion.

Later, the Korean Consul General alongside his delegation visited the Sindhology Museum and took deep interest in the cultural objects of Sindh. He also mingled with the students of the University of Sindh while many male & female students took pictures and selfies with the guest.

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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