Message and Advice of Ex. Korean Ambassador to Pakistan
From June 2013 till May 2016, I had the honour and pleasure of serving as the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan. As the former ambassador, I would like to share my sentiments about Pakistan and my dreams of the future. I must admit I was quite apprehensive when I was informed that I would be coming to Pakistan. However, I found that ‘seeing is believing’ and served to the best of my abilities. I was fortunate to develop great friendships with Pakistanis and diplomats living here. It was a proud moment for me to hear one federal minister say that my efforts made him realise how one person can change many things.
Pakistan and Korea share many similarities. Both became independent shortly after the Second World War after a long period of colonial rule. Korea became independent on August 15, 1945 while Pakistan celebrates August 14, 1947 as its independence day. Both faced a violent division of the people. Both had to spend large sums on defence since both countries were frontline states during the Cold War. Politically, Pakistan and Korea both witnessed cycles of democracy and military rule. The similarities between the countries also extend to the people and culture. We both highly respect our elders and teachers. Our languages have the same sentence structure and many common words.
Until the 1960s, Korea was a poor country. In 1961, its per capita income was just $85. Today, it is more than $27,000. Since 2010, Korea’s international trade volume has been more than $1 trillion. This is known as the Miracle on the Han River (located in Seoul). I recognise the great potential in Pakistan, which is blessed with a strategic geographic location, high mountains like the Himalayas and the Arabian Sea. Pakistan has fertile land and a large population of around 200 million people. It is blessed with natural rivers and a good irrigation system. And most importantly, Pakistan has a strong labour force which is educated, speaks English and is computer literate. Therefore, I have a strong belief that Pakistan can also progress quickly and achieve an economic miracle, the Miracle on the River Indus, just like Korea’s Miracle on the River Han.
I noticed that like Korea in the 1960s, Pakistan was also an agricultural country with about 60 per cent of people living in rural areas. And like Korea in the 1960s, there was a large income difference between the rural and urban people. Korea solved this issue with the ‘Saemaul Undong’ or the New Village Movement, which is a village-based economic development programme to help people escape from poverty. So far, the movement has been replicated in 20 countries and it is my hope that Pakistan will be the 21st country to adopt it. During my tenure, I have made efforts to bring Saemaul Undong to Pakistan so that Pakistanis can also benefit from it. My only wish is that our efforts on this should not end with my departure for Korea. Personally, I will continue to work as a goodwill ambassador for Pakistan after my departure. I will continue to make efforts to encourage greater cooperation between our two countries in trade, investment, politics and culture. I will continue to support Pakistan by presenting a positive image of this wonderful country at various forums.
I never knew Pakistan would be such a blessed country for me and my family. The weddings of two of my daughters occurred during my tenure here. I became a grandfather for the first time here, and now have two lovely grandchildren. I found Pakistan to be a beautiful country and Pakistanis to be hospitable people. It is my hope to visit Pakistan again and to see for myself that it has indeed experienced the Miracle of the Indus River. God Bless Pakistan. Pakistan-Korea Dosti Zindabad!