South Korea-Malaysia strategic partnership to elevate ties, says envoy

Lee Chi-beom, Ambassador of South Korea to Malaysia. 18 DEC 2020 —CHAN TAK KONG/The Star/ Paul Gabriel

KUALA LUMPUR: The governments of South Korea and Malaysia are currently in discussions to elevate existing bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.

South Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Lee Chi-beom said the establishment of the partnership is beyond a mere declaration as it lays out a direction and setting for more potential cooperation that covers political, economic, cultural, regional, and international dimensions.

"It will mark a new momentum between South Korea and Malaysia to strengthen existing strong bilateral relations.

"After agreeing in principle to elevate bilateral ties to a strategic partnership in November 2019, both governments are now discussing the draft agreement,” Lee told Bernama in conjunction with the country’s National Foundation Day on Sunday (Oct 3).

Elaborating, Lee said along with the elevation of cooperation, it is also important to explore and expand the areas of cooperation, especially in new areas such as healthcare, digital, artificial intelligence (AI), and the halal industry.

He added as South Korea seeing the global health care sector continue to grow and the digitalisation of the economy is rapidly accelerated due to the ongoing pandemic, there is a huge potential for cooperation in these fields.

"In addition, we need to continue with our efforts to enhance mutual understanding of our people and promote friendship between our two nations.

"I am confident that the foundation for our bilateral partnership can be further solidified as we continue our efforts to deepen the mutual understanding via various public diplomacy initiatives and cultural engagements.

Throughout his three-year tenure as the South Korean ambassador here, Lee highlighted that it is an undeniable fact that the "Korean Wave" in Malaysia has played a huge part in fostering mutual understanding in the people-to-people context.

To further promote cultural exchange, the South Korean government is looking into the possible setting up of a Korean Cultural Centre when the need arises, he added.

"I think the positive effects derived from the Korean Wave are not limited to just the cultural sector. The popularity of Korean movies, drama, and music has extended beyond the entertainment industry, such as other aspects of Korea -- language, food, travel, study, and so on are also attracting interest.

"Unlike other cultural flows which are often identified as the one-way flow that only export contents to overseas markets, the Korean Wave is unique in the sense that it was able to grow and come this far based on two-way interactions.

"The Korean Wave was able to gain this much popularity because of the two-way interaction among global fans including Malaysian fans. I think it will continue to bring positive impacts upon both our countries.

On the international sphere, Lee expressed hope that both nations could join forces to respond to global issues, among others on the supply chain, regional growth and security.

"This importance comes greatly today, particularly the case with intensifying conflict and tensions between superpowers associated with a slowdown in the global economy.

"As we work hand-in-hand on this particular front, I am sure that we could not only establish ourselves as leaders in the region but also discover a new area of cooperation along the way,” added Lee.

Currently, the Korean community in Malaysia stands at around 13,000 people.

This year marks the 62nd year of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Malaysia is the third-largest trading partner of South Korea in Southeast Asia. - Bernama

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