45 years of cooperation makes Myanmar ties brighter
Myanmar Ambassador to Korea Thant Sin delivers a speech during a reception to mark the 72th anniversary 토토사이트추천 Myanmar's independence at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul, Jan. 9. / Embassy of Myanmar
By Yi Whan-woo
A Myanmar independence celebration in Seoul last week addressed why Myanmar and Korea have reasons to believe their partnership can be further expanded on the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2020.
The anniversary follows the 3rd ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit and the inaugural Mekong-ROK Summit in Busan in November 2019, during which Korea's future cooperation with 10-member ASEAN including Myanmar was discussed extensively.
President Moon Jae-in visited Myanmar in September the same year ― the first Korean head of state to do so in seven years. The visit was in line with Moon's New Southern Policy aimed at deepening ties with ASESN.
Areas of economic cooperation discussed included the Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex (KMIC) and the Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.
KMIC is a $111.3 million project aimed at building infrastructure essential to run plants in Myanmar's largest city Yangon by 2024.
To be completed in 2022, the bridge will connect Yangon and Dala, one of the region's least developed areas, across the Yangon River.
The number of Korean visitors to Myanmar in 2019 was estimated to surpass 100,000 for the first time following the visa waiver program for Koreans, which was introduced in 2018.
The number is expected to rise with direct flights being operated by Myanmar Airways International from December. Such flights add to those already operated by Korean Air.
Myanmar Ambassador to Korea Thant Sin delivers a speech as his guest of honor and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Kim Gunn stands next to him at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul, Jan. 9. / Embassy of Myanmar
"This year marks a significant year for our two countries as we celebrate the 45th anniversary," Myanmar Ambassador to Korea Thant Sin said during a reception at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul to celebrate Myanmar's independence from colonial rule on Jan. 4, 1948.
"As Asian countries, Myanmar and Korea enjoy many commonalities including cultural affinities. We also share the experiences of our struggles for independence and democracy."
Ambassador Sin pointed out his country's economic forecast is 6.6 percent growth in 2020 and that Myanmar and Korea "have great potential to promote investment and trade sectors."
Korea is the sixth-largest foreign investor in Myanmar, with $4 billion invested in 200 projects including the KMIC and the Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.
"Taking this opportunity, I wish to express our deep appreciation to the Korean government for extending its assistance to lift the economy and create job opportunities for the people of Myanmar," the envoy said.
He referred to the direct air route from December as "another milestone in people-to-people connectivity between our two countries."
He said, "While we congratulate the government of Korea for the successful hosting of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, we would like to reaffirm our strong commitment to enhance our bilateral ties and cooperation in the years ahead for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples."
The reception attracted ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps, plus Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Kim Gunn.
In a separate speech, Kim speculated that the number of Korean tourists to Myanmar would continue to rise with Myanmar's ancient capital of Bagan being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
Kim said Myanmar's "steps toward reform and democratic transition" would open a future of greater prosperity not only for the people of Myanmar but also neighboring countries. He pointed out that Myanmar ended five decades of military rule in 2011 to make way for a civilian government.
"And Korea would stand firm as a trusted friend on Myanmar's journey toward an even brighter future," he added.