The following are excerpts from a latest-updated version of an interview with First Counsellor in Economic Affairs Hassan Molla Jafari of the Iranian Embassy in Seoul by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
Question: As the head of the Commercial-Economic activities at your Embassy, please introduce yourself fully.
Answer: It is my great pleasure to introduce myself. My name is Hassan Molla Jafari and I am Deputy Head of Mission and First Counselor (in charge of economic affairs) of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Before my term of office as First Counselor of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Korea I served as the Second Counsellor (economic affairs) in Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ankara, Turkey from 2012-2014 and First Secretary (economic affairs), Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 2009-2011 and Expert at Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran.
I have got Master’s degree in Regional Studies (European Zone) from Allameh Tabatabaiee University, Iran and Bachelor degree in International Relations (politics) from International Relations College, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Q: Please introduce your government minister in charge of commerce, economy and industry to which you originally belong.
A: Economic foreign relations of Islamic Republic of Iran are followed up by the Deputy Minister of Economic Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran. In other words, the Deputy Minister of Economic Diplomacy is responsible for regulating and pursuing Iran's bilateral and multilateral economic relations.
At the moment H.E Mehdi Safari is the Deputy Minister of Economic Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has previously served as Iran's ambassador to Austria (1991-1994), Russia (1994-2001) and China (2010-2014). He has also served as Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and the United States and Asia. Safari is one of Iran's nuclear negotiators too. Safari has also represented Iran in the negotiations of the Caspian legal regime.
Q: What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: The figures of 2020 are as follows:
Export from Korea to Iran: 186,342,000 USD
Import from Iran to Korea: 8,605,000 USD
2021 (Until October)
Export from Korea to Iran: 139,454,000 USD
Import from Iran to Korea: 4,376,000 USD
Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
A: Iran is a vast country with an area of 1,648,000 square kilometers, rich in natural and human resources with population of about 82 million. Thirteen percent of the world's oil reserves and 18.2% of the world's proven natural gas reserves is located on Iranian territory. In other words, Iran is the second largest holder of hydrocarbons in the world.
Iran has a unique geostrategic and geopolitical position in the West Asia region. An important part of the Persian Gulf, a vital energy corridor of the world, lays within the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is on the route connecting East -West, North - South Asia and plays an important role as Asia's transit corridor to Europe in time and expenses reduction. For Korean companies, there are countless economic opportunities.
There are numerous investment opportunities laying in my country for Korean conglomerates. As a bridge located in four-way link between Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with vast and varied mineral resources alongside cheap energy opportunities enjoying young and active population of 25 million, more than half of whom are college-educated, Islamic Republic of Iran has given golden opportunities to international capital owners to invest in deferent fields.
Investing and joint venture in diverse sectors of the basic, upstream and downstream industries in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors; participation in large infrastructure and development projects, such as road, rail, shipping, automotive, power, agriculture, fisheries, medicine and medical equipment; constructing and equipping hospitals and hitch industries are just some of the areas in which Korean companies can invest.
In terms of tourism, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Iran is in the top five in the world in terms of natural attractions and in the top 10 in terms of historical attractions in the world. Iran has a 7,000-year civilization history. Territorial diversity and the presence of the four seasons made it possible for foreign tourists to choose Iran as their destination. By the last illegal imposed sanctions the number of tourists who visited my country reached 5 million. According to the government's plan by 2025, the number of foreign tourists in Iran should reach 20 million. In this regard, I would like to declare that the Tourism Organization of our country is ready to cooperate with Korean companies in investing in this sector.
Another very favorable area for cooperation is the participation and investment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the field of knowledge-based technologies and start-ups. The Islamic Republic of Iran has made remarkable progress in recent years in the area of knowledge production and the development of the knowledge economy. The pace of Iran's progress in this area can be traced statistically to the growth of the number of Iranian-based knowledge companies from 52 in 2014 to more than 3,500 in 2018.
Q: What are your competitive products and/or services attractive to Korea? Who are the companies of your country exporting their products to Korea?
A: In connection with the Korean market for Iranian products, a wide range of agricultural products, such as pomegranates, strawberries, legumes sweet lime and different kinds of nuts, can be listed as Korea’s exportable items. In the field of industrial products, we can mention some items like marble, high quality ceramics, tales, steel, copper etc. Iran has made significant progress in the field of nanotechnology products in recent years too. You may be surprised to find out that the reliable and efficient masks available in the Chinese and South Korean markets to protect from new coronary artery disease in the East Asian region are made by using Iranian native nanotechnology, mineral items, and handicrafts such as Persian carpet.
Q: Korean people, especially the up-and-coming Korean businessmen need rest and recuperation. What are your tourist attractions?
A: Enjoying the oldest civilization of human being and due to its historical background and sustainable social and cultural evolution, Iran has a lot of diverse worth seeing sites that satisfy tourists with different tastes. With an exceptional climate which offers for seasons at the same time: winter at the mountainous areas at the north, spring and autumn at the forest regions at the north and west of country and summer at the pelagic areas at the south and northern part and vast desert at the east and central regions]
Here are some of the famous tourist attractions in Iran I introduce.
Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.
Median-e Naqsh-e Jahan
Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storied arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th century Timurid palace. They are an impressive testimony to the level of society and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era.
Bam and its Cultural Landscape
Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. The origins of Bam can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th Century BC). Its heyday was from the 7th to 11th centuries, being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments. The existence of life in the oasis was based on the underground irrigation canals, the qanats of which Bam has preserved some of the earliest evidence in Iran. Arg-e Bam is the most representative examples of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers.
Parsargade was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II the Great, in Pars, homeland of the Persians, in the 6th century BC. Its palaces gardens and mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. Particularly, noteworthy vestiges in the 160-ha site include; the Mausoleum of Cyrus II; Tall-e Takh, a fortified terrace; and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace and gardens. Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different peoples. This was reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.
One of the oldest historic monuments in the city of Tehran, and of world heritage status belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's arg (citadel). It consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries. Golestan Palace was constructed in the year 1268 AH. undefined under the order of Naseredin Shah. undefined This palace is comprised of the entrance along with various pavilions, such as mirror, diamonds, ivory and crystal pavilions as well as Salam pavilion in which the famous 'Takht-e-Tavoos' or 'the Peacock Throne' that Nader Shah took as ransom from India in his conquest in 1739, is placed.
Please find the attachment for the pictures.
Q: What are the most important festive days in your country? Please elaborate.
A: The most important festival day in my country is Nowruz. Nowruz is a spring cultural festival which is tied to the natural environment and the actual astronomical event. The terms of Nowruz is composed of two Persian words “Now” (new) and “ruz” (day).
It is originated from Iran over 3000 years ago which is celebrated in all central Asian nations like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Nowruz means new life for natural mankind, spiritually and physically for Iranian. We are very happy and try to make all happy in Nowruz holiday through our traditional costumes.
Q: Do you have other prominent Koreans, other than businessmen, who truly and sincerely contribute to the promotion of friendship and cooperation between the two countries?
A: I would like to introduce the grandmaster of Taekwondo, Kang Shin-chul, who developed the Iranian Taekwondo and gained reputation in Iran. I believe that he truly contributes to the close relation between Iran and Korea. Iran made a remarkable development in taekwondo with help from Kang who first came to Iran as an instructor in 1985. Kang, who runs Namchang Dojang in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, served as the Iranian national team head coach from 1985 to 1995 and has also worked as chairman of the technical committee of Iranian national team. At the 2015 Gwangju Universiade, he was the chief head coach of the Iranian team. Kang, known as “Mr. Master” in Iran, has trained thousands of pupils in Iran, including Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, president of the Iran Taekwondo Federation.
Q: Please add whatever other details that you might consider to be important.
A: Relations between the people of Iran and Korea have an ancient history. This background can be traced back to the position of the Sheila Empire in Persian Kushnameh.
At the present time, the naming of two beautiful and important streets of Tehran and Seoul in the capitals of the two countries expresses the interest and connection of the hearts of the people of Iran and Korea to each other.
Next year (2022) we will be the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relation between I.R of Iran and Republic of Korea and The Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran has always strived to play a constructive role in the context of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence with South Korea’s friendly country, taking into account its position.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been one of the most stable and reliable sources of energy. In other words, the engine of South Korea’s economy and witnessed the continued supply of oil to the country during the oil crisis of the 1970s.
As the United States withdrew from its nuclear deal with the five Security Council members and Germany (P5+1), the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and violated UN resolution 2231, in May 2018 and started a new round of unilateral and illegal economic sanctions against Iran, It seems that South Korea is committed itself to fully adhering to U.S. guidelines. The adoption of this policy by Koreans has significantly reduced trade cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Iranian market is still ready to accept the capital of Korean companies and their products. Time is limited and our Korean friends are losing their further opportunities in Iran. I’m sure if the Korean companies would reconsider their approaches to working with Iran, the Iranian counterparts would welcome them.