By Lee Kyung-sik
Publisher, The Korea Post media
Ambassador Pham Huu Chi of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in Seoul said “Old friends are always best. In reality, the sincere cooperation between Viet Nam and Korea has been built on the basis of people-to-people exchanges starting almost 900 years ago when the first Vietnamese people immigrated to the Korean peninsula.” These remarks were made at a gala reception hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Pham with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea at the Lotte Grand Ballroom in Seoul on Feb. 8, 2017 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. (See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this article.)
An estimated total of nearly 1,000 distinguished guests attended the reception attesting to the popularity of Ambassador and Mrs. Pham among the Korean people, as well as the fellow diplomats.
As Ambassador Pham stated briefly, Korea and Vietnam have special historical relations dating back the Goryo Dynasty of Korea in the 13th century.
Prince Ly Long Tuong of Vietnam leaves Viet Nam seeking refuge in the midst of a political conflict, encounters with rough seas and lands in Hwasan of Hwanghae Province on the West Coast. Goryeo King Gojong (1192-1259) met with the Vietnamese Prince and gave him all assistance he needed in settling down in the area in Hwanghae Province, including bestowing upon him the title of Hwasan-gun. Thereby Ly Long Tung became the founder of the Hwasan Ly Clan in Korea. Originally deriving from the Chinese character Yi (李), the name in English translates: Yi, Ly, Lee, Rhee and several other examples.
So, Korea and Vietnam have deep roots with their relations dating back to the 13th century.
Many distinguished guests attended the reception, who included Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se, Deputy Minister Lee Jeong-gyu, Vice Governor Woo Byung-yoon of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Chairman Shin Myoung-jin of Korea Importers Association, President Edwin Kim of Seohan Care, Chief Director Young Lee of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, President Lee Boo-rak of SBB Tech, and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media.
Foreign Minister Yun took to the rostrum after Ambassador Pham and offered his congratulatory remarks citing the rapidly increasing ties of friendly and close relations between Korea and Vietnam.
Attendance from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps was unusually large with many ambassadors attending with their spouses. They included Ambassadors Ambassador Mohammad Saleem Sayeb of Afghanistan, Albino Malungo of Angola, Jorge Roballo of Argentina, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh, Andrei Popkov of Belarus, Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of Bolivia, Adrien Theatre of Belgium, Luis Fernando de Andrade Serra of Brazil, Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Dimanche Long of Cambodia,
Eric Walsh of Canada, Fernando Danus of Chile, Tomas Husak of Czech Republic, Milton Alcides Magana Herrera of El Salvador , Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia, Hassan Taherian of Iran, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Lao Republic, Dato Rohana binti Ramli of Malaysia, Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar, Andrew Yamanea of Papua New Guinea, Alexander Andreevich Tomonin of Russia, Omrie Michael Golley of Sierra Leone, Yip Wei Kiat of Singapore, Milan Lajciak of Slovak Republic, Gonzalo Ortiz Diaz-Tortosa of Spain, Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka, Soares Ximenes Adalgisa Dalgisa Maria of Timor Leste, Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan and Ambassador Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Pham:
It is a great honor for the Viet Nam Embassy tonight to be with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea to co-host the Reception marking the 25th anniversary of Viet Nam - Korea diplomatic relations (1992-2017). On behalf of the Government of Viet Nam, I would like to extend a warm welcome and sincere thanks to Deputy Minister Lee Jeong-gyu, distinguished guests as well as Korean and Vietnamese colleagues and friends present at this meaningful commemoration.
25 years ago, the Governments of Viet Nam and Korea officially established diplomatic relations, marking a new chapter of cooperation between the two countries. As a Korean proverb says, “Old friends are always best”. In reality, Viet Nam - Korea sincere cooperation has been built on the basis of people-to-people exchanges starting almost 900 years ago when the first Vietnamese people immigrated to the Korean peninsula whose current descendants, namely the Lee families of Jeongseon and Hwasan, have continuously been serving as an important bridge for Viet Nam-Korea bilateral cooperation and friendship.
Bound by traditional ties and common historical-cultural background, strengthened by complementary economic structures, and nurtured by amity and joined efforts of the two Governments and peoples, Viet Nam - Korea partnership over the last 025 years has obtained remarkable achievements in various aspects and contributed to regional and global development and cooperation.
Viet Nam-Korea bilateral relations was upgraded to comprehensive partnership level in 2001 and subsequently to strategic partnership level in 2009. Since 2012 when the two countries celebrated 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Korea’s FDI to Viet Nam has increased by three folds to US$ 50 billion, positioning Korea as the top investing country in Viet Nam, while bilateral trade turnover doubled to US$ 42.8 billion. Korea is currently Viet Nam’s second largest bilateral ODA donor and the number of tourists from two countries also doubled in the last 5 years to a record number of 1.75 million in 2016. Regarding cultural and people-to-people exchanges, nearly 150,000 Vietnamese are living and working Korea and almost similar to the number of Korean people in Viet Nam.
It is our strong belief that with determination and joined efforts, Viet Nam - Korea strategic partnership will be stronger and stronger in all areas with economic cooperation being breakthrough; political, defense, and security cooperation being priorities; and culture and people-to-people exchanges being its foundation. Various programs and activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Viet Nam – Korea diplomatic relations in 2017 will pave the way for further development of bilateral relations in the next period. For our own part, Viet Nam will strive our best to contribute to substantive, steady and mutually beneficial cooperation with Korea.
On this occasion, on behalf of the Government of Viet Nam, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Government and people of Korea for substantial contribution to Viet Nam-Korea bilateral cooperation and Viet Nam’s socio-economic development as well as support for the Vietnamese community in Korea. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my special thanks to all Korean and international friends gathering here tonight for your valuable friendship and support for the Viet Nam Embassy and myself during my term in Korea. I hope that you will continue to extend your support and friendship to Viet Nam and Viet Nam-Korea cooperation in the time to come.
According to Korean and Vietnamese common tradition, we are now entering the new year of the Rooster, which promises fresh and strong development momentum. Allow me on this occasion to wish you all a happy new year! May Viet Nam-Korea strategic partnership grow stronger! May I wish His Honorable Deputy Minister Lee Jeong-gyu, Honorable Ambassadors and Madams, distinguished guests and all colleagues and friends the best of health, happiness and success.