The current two-day visit of Korea National Assembly Speaker Dr Kang Chang-Hee on the invitation of Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari is indeed a milestone in Pakistan-Korea relations. This visit is commencing at a time when the need of collaboration in a range of fields between the two countries is more important than it has been ever before.
The legacy of Korean companies like Daewoo and Sambu through their projects of Motorway and Lowari Tunnel is being taken to the next level with a range of projects by various Korean companies including the hydro-power projects for energy hit Pakistan.
HE Dr Kang is the highest level Korean political figure to visit Pakistan in many years and the results of this visit will definitely set the tone for the future ties of both countries. Korean companies can find a big market in Pakistan with population of almost 200 million.
Likewise, Pakistan can gain the skills and techniques of some of the best reputed Korean companies. This visit has all the ingredients of a win-win visit for both countries. Korean brands of Samsung and LG have gained such popularity that it will be difficult to find a home without their products.
Dr Kang is a veteran politician from the third largest city of Korea and has won the elections six times from his constituency making him a formidable political force. It was people like him who were the strongest aid of the late president Park Chung-Hee who laid the foundation of modern Korea. Dr. Kang has witnessed the transformation of a war torn Korea to a dynamic Korea to become world’s 11th largest economy.
He has depicted an excellent personal picture of over 60 years of political struggles of Korea in his over 400 pages book “Era of Passion”. He has seen it all too well to understand Pakistan’s current situation. I am sure the subjects of energy, trade, education, research, culture, sports etcetera will be under discussion during this visit. The aspects for a Pak-Korea direct flight may also be pondered.
Being an educationist trying to promote Korean language and culture in Pakistan ever since the inception of Department of Korean in 2006 and Islamabad King Sejong Institute in 2012 at NUML, it is call of the time to emphasize on education. Literacy rate in Korea is almost 100% and that has provided the basis of the rapid growth Korea has made over the last few decades.
There are over 100 students studying with us at present to achieve their “Korean Dream”. I would like to emphasize on the students’ exchange program with a wide scope with special emphasis on Korean language. Students should be facilitated with the process of studying in Korea. We are facilitating Korean language and culture related activities both in and off the campus. Many schools celebrate Asian or World Culture Days and students assigned with Korean stalls are facilitated with relevant materials resulting in better awareness of Korean culture among the masses. I am not surprised at all when locals opt for Korean food instead of western during the Korean festivals where food is made available.
It will be unfair not to mention the visionary personality of Korean Ambassador Dr Song Jong-hwan. Ever since we greeted Dr Song at NUML after just two days of his arrival in Pakistan to encourage the participants of “Quiz on Korea” competition, it was beyond any doubt that Pak-Korea ties were going to improve dramatically.
This reason in itself was enough to elaborate his serious, productive and outreaching intentions in Pakistan. Since his arrival back in April last year he has been working tirelessly to promote cultural, educational, economic, social, political and sports ties between the two friendly nations. His ambition to expand the bilateral trade to 10 times within a decade may seem challenging but he is no stranger to setting himself tough goals and achieving them. With the little knowledge I have about him, I have all the reasons to believe he will make it happen, as well.
The writer is Head Department of Korean, NUML, Islamabad.