By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with Choe Nam-suk, Kim Hyung-dae, Kevin Lee, Joseph Sung, Lee Zong-young
“The Republic of Korea is now a key economic and development partner of Bangladesh and the bilateral trade crossed the US$2 billion mark for the first time in 2021 and then surpassed US$3 billion mark in 2022.” So said Ambassador Delwar Hossain of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Seoul in a speech he delivered at a gala reception he hosted at the prestigious grand ballroom of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on the evening of March 27.
The reception was in celebration of the 52nd Anniversary of Independence and National Day of Bangladesh, which was attended by many important guests from various segments of Korean society and the international community, especially the ambassadors of many countries of the world accredited to Korea.
From the Korean Government came Director General Ms. Lee Kyung-ah at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who also made an impressive speech in congratulations of the auspicious day of Bangladesh.
Congratulating Ambassador Hossain as well as the government and people of Bangladesh on the most auspicious occasion, Director General Ms. Lee said, “The National Day of Bangladesh this year has a very special meaning as it is celebrated as we mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between the two very friendly countries of the world.”
Then she said, “Korea and Bangladesh both have a proud history of realizing the democratic ideals of their ancestors and on this meaningful day, the hearts of the Korean people are completely with those of the people of Bangladesh!”
(See details of the speeches of the ambassador and the director general toward the end of this report.)
An estimated several hundred distinguished guests attended the reception from all walks of life in Korea as well as the heads and leaving members of the foreign embassies in Seoul.
From the media came many members of the reportorial teams of The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, who included Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik, Senior Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk and Foreign Relations Vice Chairperson Joy Cho and Managing Editor Kevin Lee with Chief Operations Officer Joseph Sung.
According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh is situated in a geographically critical region where it serves as the corridor between Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia.
With an annual average growth rate of 6% since 2010 and above 8% in 2019, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is poised to rise as the next-generation market for Korea and many other countries of the world. In contrast to the widely-held image of her being an underdeveloped country (which is contrary to the reality in many respects), Bangladesh is growing rapidly as a newly-rising developing country, meeting the Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation criteria in 2018. Bangladesh also has boundless growth potential with 70 percent of her 160 million population under age 35.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Korea and Bangladesh in 1973, Korea has been enhancing her cooperation in various fields, such as politics, economy, culture, development cooperation and human exchange.
Additionally, more than 150 Korean business companies are present in Bangladesh, making Korea the largest investor in Bangladesh's garment sector. Their investments in recent years have been diversified into infrastructure, energy and consumer goods, which Koreans are positive would lead to further development of the bilateral cooperation.
The Republic of Korea will continue her efforts to strengthen Korea-Bangladesh friendship and expand cooperation into diverse areas.
As if to bespeak the good conditions in Bangladesh for the Korean businesses to invest for win-win cooperation and benefits, there were many congratulatory wreathes fron all walks of life, especially those from the business community. They were ib display at the entrance of the venue in celebration of the
the 52nd Anniversary of Independence and National Day of Bangladesh. They included those from CEO & Vice Chairman Kim Gyo-hyun of Lotte Chemical Corp, Chairman Chung Tae-hee of Daejeon Chamber of Commerce & Industry, President Kim Young-jun of Hanmi Trading Corp, CEO Sung Ki-hak of Youngone Corp, reoresentative of Hoby Korea, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-Jah of Welovu, Mayor Lee Seung-ro of the Seongbuk-gu Office, President Shin Kwang-yul of the International Conference on Foreigners Welfare Introduction, and President Chung Dae-Sung of Daehan Shipbuilding Co.
Speech of Ambassador Muhammad Delwar Hossain:
Hon’ble Director-General for Public Diplomacy and Cultural Affiars of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Her Excellency Ms. Lee Kyung-ah
Members of diplomatic crops,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all at the celebration of the 52nd anniversary of the Independence and National Day of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh this evening. We feel deeply honoured by your gracious presence here.
Bangladesh has achieved independence in 1971 after a nine-month-long blood-spattered devastating liberation war.
On this momentous occasion, I pay deep tribute to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who successfully steered the nation to independence through a long struggle using his political acumen and visionary leadership. I render homage to the valiant freedom fighters and 3 million martyrs who made supreme sacrifice for the independence of the country. I also recall with profound gratitude the invaluable support and solidarity extended by our foreign friends across the globe during our liberation war.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The people of Bangladesh strived for independence in pursuit of the long-cherished dream of ‘Sonar Bangla’-an independent and prosperous country; free from discrimination, subjugation, and injustice..
In last five decades, Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in materializing the dream. Over the years, the diligent people of Bangladesh have transformed a highly impoverished country into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Once a predominantly agrarian society has gradually emerged as an industry and service sector-led vibrant economy. Persistent robust economic growth and remarkable progress in various social sectors have led to significant improvements in people’s overall living standard.
Drawing inspirations from our past achievements, we now seek to make a bigger stride towards our dreams and aspirations.
The present government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has undertaken multifarious initiatives and numerous infrastructure projects with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of the economy and transforming Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country by 2041.
According to international experts, the country is poised to maintain high economic growth in the coming years to emerge as the 26th largest economy in the world by 2030. With a vibrant private sector, a huge pool of competent workforce and a sizable domestic market, Bangladesh is now well poised to engage in deeper mutually beneficial cooperation with the international partners and friends.
Excellencies, and distinguished guests,
The Republic of Korea and Bangladesh enjoy excellent bilateral relations, which is based on mutual respect, shared values and common aspirations. Our relationship witnessed tremendous expansion, both in depth and dimension, in last five decades.
At the moment, our two countries are in meaningful collaboration in a wide range of areas. Our two countries enjoy deeper understanding and collaboration on regional and global issues of common interest, particularly on peace, development, and climate change.
The Republic of Korea is now a key economic and development partner of Bangladesh. The bilateral trade crossed the US$ 2 billion mark for the first time in 2021 and then surpassed US$ 3 billion mark in 2022. The participation of Korean companies in infrastructure projects in Bangladeshi has witnessed a significant growth in the recent years.
The Republic of Korea is currently the fifth largest foreign investor in Bangladesh with an exclusive export processing zone for the Korean companies. On the other hand, Bangladesh remains one of the top three recipients of Korean ODA since long. A substantial number of Bangladeshi nationals have been working for Korean companies here in Korea and many other countries, which benefits both the economies. However, the complementarities of our two economies still render huge potential for further mutually beneficial collaboration in diverse fields.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. We look forward to seizing this momentous occasion to take our relationship to a new height and make it more meaningful to the people in both countries.
May Bangladesh and the Republic of Korea relationship grow from strength to strength in the coming days.
I thank you all for the kind attention.
Details of the speech of Director-General Ms. Lee Kyung-ah of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Your Excellency Muhammad Delwar Hossain,
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,
My Colleagues in the Diplomatic Corps in Seoul,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening, Assalla mual reikom!
I’m truly pleased and honored to be here with you on the happy occasion of the National Day of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people and the government of Bangladesh.
This year, the occasion is all the more meaningful as we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between Korea and Bangladesh.
Both of our countries emerged after intense struggles for independence.
Both of us have strived to live up to our founding democratic ideals.
The hearts of the Korean people are with fellow Bangladeshis on this meaningful day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bangladesh has always occupied a special place in Korean people’s mind since the great Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, referred to Korea as the “Lamp of the East.”
Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian Nobel Laureate, in 1929 dedicated a poem to the Korean people who were at that time under colonial rule.
In his poem titled “Lamp of the East”, he said, “In the Golden Age of Asia, Korea was one of Asia’s lamp-bearers. And that lamp is waiting to be lighted once again.
For the illumination of the East.” That poem inspired the Korean people, generating a greater aspiration, a deeper hope for freedom. Korea gained independence in 1945. Bangladesh did 52 years ago.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the last five decades, Korea and Bangladesh have enjoyed excellent relations in every field.
Korea has stood side by side with Bangladesh throughout its journey of making impressive achievements.
It is a source of great joy for us to see your great nation emerging as one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Bangladesh is our second largest partner in terms of official development assistance.
As a trusted partner, Korea has worked with Bangladesh in various areas from infrastructure and transportation, ICT to education, human resources development, environment and health.
Korean companies have been with Bangladesh from the beginning of its now thriving garment industry.
It is a well-known story that the partnership between Desh Garments and Daewoo Corporation in 1970s planted the seeds of the garment industry of Bangladesh.
In recent years, our two countries have been diversifying the areas of cooperation beyond the garment industry. Samsung Electronics manufactures most of its gadgets in Narsingdi.
In January, an assembly plant for Hyundai Motor Company was opened at the Bangabandhu Hi-Tech Park.
I am pleased to note that Korea is currently the sixth largest FDI investor in Bangladesh and the bilateral trade volume reached a historic high, recording more than 3 billion US dollars last year.
Bangladeshi expatriates in Korea are another important pillar of our partnership.
This year, the number of Bangladeshi workers coming to Korea more than doubled with 10,000 new comers. They are serving as a living testimony to our friendship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Cherishing the close ties we have cultivated for the past five decades, it is a time for us to renew our commitment to our friendship. This is a juncture to take a bold step forward together for closer, deeper, stronger bonds, for a brighter future. As a time-tested friend and development partner, Korea will remain committed to working with Bangladesh towards a shared future of mutual growth and prosperity.
I am confident that our two countries will achieve another 50 years of splendid collaboration. Once again, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations on Bangladesh’s 52nd National Day.
Thank you very much. Onek Donbat!