By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with VCs Jang Chang-yong, Joy Cho, Choe Nam-suk, Reporter Ms. Jeong Da-jeong
The Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea are in for another period of honeymoon with newly accredited Ambassador Nurgali Arystanov in place!
Korea now has another wonderful Ambassador from Kazakhstan succeeding the former Ambassador, who is ready to do as well as his predecessor if not even better.
The new Ambassador of Kazakhstan is His Excellency Nurgali Arystanov, who won his bachelor’s degree at Al Farabi Kazakh State National University and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America.
Ambassador Arystanov joined the Foreign Service of Kazakhstan in 1999, and served at the Kazakh embassies in Pakistan, India and the United States of America. At the Headquarters, Ambassador Arystanov covered Kazakhstan’s cooperation with Asian, then American countries as Director General for the Asia Pacific, then the Americas.
As for his family, Ambassador Arystanov together with his lovely spouse Mrs. Arystanova are raising a smart boy and a beautiful daughter.
Here are details of the interview with Ambassador Arystanov:
Question: Please introduce the Head of Government of the wonderful country of Your Excellency in detail, including major achievements.
Answer: Since 20 March 2019, the President of Kazakhstan is Kassym Jomart Tokayev. He is a well-known politician .
He has played a significant role in Kazakhstan's political landscape, having previously held positions such as Prime Minister, Chairman of the Senate, and the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
As President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has focused on various key areas, including economic diversification, social welfare, and political reform. Some of his major achievements include efforts to attract foreign investment, enhance regional cooperation, and promote Kazakhstan's role on the global stage. He has also worked towards modernizing the country's education system and improving healthcare services. Additionally, his administration has aimed to strengthen democratic institutions and advance human rights within the country.
On September 1, 2023, President of Kazakhstan H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his State of the Nation Address entitled “Economic Course of a Just Kazakhstan”, outlining pathways toward future progress based on principles of fairness, inclusiveness, and pragmatism. He dwelled on various facets of the national agenda, underscoring the key economic tasks.
As the address identifies ambitious goals of economic development, more opportunities are created for international cooperation. This is also relevant for partnership with Korea.
Following are some of the key decisions announced by the President:
Infrastructure development, including Middle Corridor. Kazakhstan intends to develop Kuryk (on the Caspian Sea) port into a full-fledged logistics cluster and build a container hub at Aktau.
Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence. The Kazakh leader shared his vision for further progress in digital development. He stated that Kazakhstan was among the world leaders in the e-government and fintech development indices. He asked the Government to increase the export of IT services to one billion dollars by 2026. The Government will pay special attention to the use of Artificial Intelligence.
Drones. The Government will work to strengthen production capacities with a high degree of localization for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Banks. To boost competition and solve the problem of insufficient corporate lending, President Tokayev emphasized the need to attract three reliable foreign banks to Kazakhstan.
Rare Earth Metals. Developing deposits of rare earth metals is a priority. For this purpose, attracting large private investments is crucial for unlocking the mining sector’s potential.
Hydrogen Generation. President Tokayev suggested that the Government and businesses should seize the opportunities to develop hydrogen energy.
Referendum on a Nuclear Power Plant. The President said that the development of nuclear power was a particularly important economic and political issue. Therefore, he proposed to submit the issue of the potential construction of a nuclear power plant to a national referendum. The dates and other details will be announced later.
Smart Waters. To better manage water resources, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation will be created, which will include the National Hydrogeological Service. Given the growing water scarcity, rational use of water and application of advanced technologies will be prioritized.
Healthcare and Education. 300 healthcare facilities and 400 comfortable schools will be built.
Creative Industry. To harness the creative potential and intellectual capital of citizens, Kazakhstan will create conditions conducive to the creative economy. In particular, Creative Industry Centers will be set up in all regional centers and major cities.
Tax Exemption. Particular attention will be focused on sectors such as deep metal processing, oil, gas, and coal chemistry, heavy engineering, uranium enrichment, and automotive components. In order to support the manufacturing industry, foreign and domestic investors will be exempted from paying taxes and other mandatory payments for the first three years.
These are the only some of the key areas, which deserve the immediate attention of Korean friends at this point. The State of the Nation Address is comprehensive and touches upon even wider spectrum, as it proceeds from the deep analytical research of the issues facing the nation. A reader of the full text can find a potential scope for cooperation, for instance in small and medium enterprises’ engagement.
Q: Nowadays, economic cooperation is very important between the countries. Who are the major Korean companies actively engaged in bilateral economic cooperation? Please introduce them in detail in the order of size and scale of business activities.
A: A number of South Korean companies successfully operate in Kazakhstan, such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai, Kia, Lotte Confectionary, POSCO and others. In general, 740 companies operate with the participation of the Korean capital.
Korean companies operate in various economic sectors in Kazakhstan: oil and gas, automobile, engineering, construction, finance, electronics and confectionery.
Samsung Electronics has expanded its presence in Kazakhstan. A big number of home appliances are exported from Kazakhstan.
Hyundai and Kia are producing cars, including Hyundai Accent, Creta and KIA Sportage, NQ5.
Lotte Confectionary has factories in Kazakhstan. One of the famous chocolates in the world called “Kazakhstan” is produced by Lotte Confectionary.
POSCO is one of the first Korean investors. It is producing titanium and exporting around the world.
Q: What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Trade between our two countries is flourishing. By the Korean statistics, the trade in 2022 more than doubled and reached $6.5 billion. This is the absolute record in two-way trade. As a result, Korea has emerged as the 4th largest trade partner.
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: Today, Korea is the 6th largest foreign investor with $8.9 billion of FDI after the Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, Russia and Belgium. As we build Just Kazakhstan upon President Tokayev’s initiative, we are strengthening the rule of law, better protection of freedoms and rights, thus creating one of the best investment climates and favorable business environments in the region. In this context, we seek more investments from Korea and would be glad to welcome more Korean companies in our economy.
I think that our relations have very good prospects. We identified a number of key areas such us, production of automobiles, TV sets, rare earth metals, energy, smart-water, green energy, waste management, IT, logistics, e-commerce.
In South Korea, we already have a company “Ordamed,” which is working in medical fields and we would like to wish our companies to work in different areas.
Q: What are your competitive products and/over services attractive to Korea and what are the Korean products and services that your country might wish to important?
A: In terms technological cooperation, there is much to pursue. In Kazakhstan, we focus on digitalization of our economy. We even have a separate Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, which coordinates efforts to digitalize government services, banking sector and other sectors. Given Korea’s leadership position in information technologies, there is a natural fit for us to cooperate, for instance, in digital trade and e-commerce. Kazakhstan has invested in a major way in digitalizing public services. Recently, Kazakhstan ranked 28th in the 2022 UN e-government rating with the highest EGDI (e-government development index).
Korea’s achievement in healthcare attracts world-wide attention. Here, Kazakhstan is no exception. Many Kazakh citizens travel to Korea for medical tourism and get treatments. Hence, there is a great scope for our healthcare cooperation.
I would like to note the great competitiveness of Kazakh agricultural products. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Kazakhstan is the 9th largest exporter of wheat. Considering that wheat is already one of the leading non-oil export products, bringing organic wheat exports to the South Korean market will provide more choices for consumers here.
Also, Kazakhstan has a great potential for the export of livestock products. Given the high demand for meat in South Korea, Kazakhstan could be a great source of organic meat products.
Korea as a tourist destination, with its rich culture, music and food, is very popular in Kazakhstan. Likewise, Kazakhstan here is seen as a peace-loving country, which offers unique experience for Korean travelers, who would like to experience magnificent mountains, trekking, play golf and enjoy traditional warmest hospitality. In a wider context, we would like to provide best conditions for people-to-people ties, educational exchanges and cultural cooperation. In this respect, our ethnic Korean fellow citizens play a special role, connecting our two peoples.
Q: What are the tourist attractions in your esteemed country?
A: Kazakhstan is a large country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. By area, it is the 9th largest in the world. Hundreds of cultures and ethnicities live in peace and harmony in our country, which is also known as a land of peace and prosperity. Any guest traveler would witness the warm welcoming hospitality and vibrant and diverse culture.
I would like to specially highlight the next tourist destinations.
Almaty is the heart of Kazakhstan
Almaty is a city of a thousand colors, dozens of ethnic groups and cultures. A city which never sleeps, a melting pot with its own unique atmosphere, a city that is both ancient and ultramodern.
The largest city in Kazakhstan, Almaty is the scientific, cultural, historical, industrial and financial center of the country. It lies in the northern foothills of the Tian-Shan mountains at an elevation of 700-900 meters.
Almaty is almost surrounded by Tien Shan Mountains. One can go from Chimbulak facility to Bird's Eye View area (3200 m. above the sea level) by a cable car.
Almaty is 6 hours away from Seoul (11 direct flights per week).
Medeu – a unique high-altitude skating rink
The Medeu is a high-mountain sports complex located near Almaty, the “southern capital” of Kazakhstan, at an altitude of 1,691 meters above sea level, just below the mountain resort Shymbulak (Chimbulak).
It is the world’s largest mountain complex for winter sports with the largest area of artificial ice field – 10,500 square meters.
Shymbulak--the most prominent ski resort in Kazakhstan
Built back in 1954 it was a training base for skiers. The resort is located in the picturesque gorge of Trans-Ili Alatau, just 25 minutes’ drive from the center of Almaty. Today Shymbulak is world-class ski resort. It has 7 catering places, two hotels (one of which is directly on the mountainside), a ski shop and a service and repair shop.
Charyn Canyon - a natural wonder in the Tien Shan Mountains
One will be mesmerized by Charyn Canyon in the vicinity of Almaty (200 km. away). Charyn Canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States. Many animals live here, including some endangered species. The most picturesque places of the canyon are the Valley of Castles, the Ash and Turang Groves, and the Charyn River.
Astana, Capital of Kazakhstan
Astana is the top preferred destination for international events and business and leisure travel. City offers world-class MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) infrastructure, safe and sustainable meeting venues and locations, a variety of unique sights and experiences. The city is full of modern architecture and conceptionally futuristic buildings.
Turkistan, a Silk Road City
Turkistan is a Silk Road town located in Southern Kazakhstan and of the oldest cities of Kazakhstan dates back to the past for more than 1500 years.
Turkestan (Yassy) was the political and spiritual center of the Turkic-speaking peoples and was the capital of the Kazakh Khanate for many centuries.
Bozjyra is Mars on Earth
Bozjyra is a magnificent creation of weathering and erosion, located on the territory of the Ustyurt Plateau. Here you can see vast clay deserts, limestone mountains, buttes more than 200 meters (650 ft) high.
In the Mesozoic Era this area this area was covered by the Tethys Oceanm so now here you can find a lot of fossilized shells and teeth of prehistoric sharks.
Altyn Emel National Park
Altyn Emel National Park is 250 km. away from Almaty, where one can witness chalky mountains, singing dunes, burial mounds, and ancient rock carvings.
The highlight of the park is the Singing Dunes, which got its name because wind makes the sand emit a rumbling sound. A light breeze gives a barely audible squeak, while strong gusts produce a more intense sound, similar to that of an organ.
Eastern Gateway: The Khorgos Dry Port
The KTZE-Khorgos Gateway dry port connecting Kazakhstan and China is the most important transport and logistics center of Kazakhstan. It also connects the markets of China and Europe, passing through the countries of Central Asia, Turkey and the countries of the Persian Gulf.
Western Gateway: Aktau Port
Aktau Port is located on the east coast of the Caspian Sea at the intersection of several international transport corridors, thereby providing the transportation of dry cargo, crude oil and oil products from east to west, from north to south and back in the direction of Iran, Turkey, Russia, and Azerbaijan.
All information about tourist destinations is available in 8 languages, including Korean (https://kazakhstan.travel/).
Q: Who is your Korean Honorary Consul? How is he contributing to the promotion of relations and cooperation between the two countries?
A: There are 2 Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Republic of Korea. One of them is Koh Dong Hyun, he is the president of Dongil Construction. The Second Honorary Consul is Lee Sang Hoon, President of DongKwang Corporation. They facilitate business trips and help raise awareness about existing investment, tourist opportunities in Kazakhstan.
Q: Please add whatever other details that Your Excellency might consider to be important.
A: I would like to emphasize that Kazakhstan is a peace-loving country that does not have any political and territorial disputes with any country in the world. This fact gives us complete freedom in establishing trade and economic relations with all countries of the world.
Kazakhstan is a home for 130 ethnic groups, which is a huge wealth and advantage. There is an Association of Koreans of Kazakhstan, which unites more than 100 thousand ethnic Koreans. Ethnic Koreans, our fellow citizens, in Kazakhstan are part and parcel of our fully modern Kazakh society.
They collectively endured hardships when forcedly deported to Kazakhstan. However, thanks to their hard work and dedication, they have prospered and flourished. Today, they represent high ranking officials, successful CEOs, famous artists & celebrities and increasingly playing a bridge connecting Kazakhstan with Korea.
Foreign Minister H.E. Park Jin’s June visit to Astana and Almaty provided an excellent political framework for all encompassing development of multifaceted enhanced strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and Korea. Especially friendly and productive were his call on H.E. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and bilateral talks with H.E. Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu. More bilateral events are forthcoming
We are confident that with the consistent mutual efforts, new heights will be achieved in the dialogue between Astana and Seoul.
Korea and Kazakhstan are a very, very special country to each other. As soon as President Yoon Suk-yeol was elected President of the Republic of Korea,
President Tokayev sent a very warm congratulatory letter to the then just-elected President Yoon Suk-yeol on March 10, 2022, which read as follows:
“I wish you success in your noble activities and the implementation of initiatives aimed at further prosperity of Your country and strengthening its authority in the international community. I would like to confirm our readiness to make efforts together with You to elevate the enhanced strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and Korea to a higher level, which is developing in the spirit of traditional friendship and mutual support.”
The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs comments on the bilateral reations with Kazakhstan:
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Kazakhstan in 1992, bilateral cooperation has been strengthened in all fields: political, economic and cultural.
In 2009, bilateral relations reached a new level of strategic partnership. In 2022, trade volume reached US$6.5 billion, and Korea's cumulative investments in Kazakhstan amounted to US$8.9 billion. Currently, about 2,500 Korean nationals are permanently residing in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and about 740 Korean companies are actively operating in Kazakhstan.
In 2014, an agreement on the abolition of the visa regime between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Kazakhstan and an agreement on temporary work activities were signed, and a direct flight between the capitals of the two countries--Seoul and Astana--was opened in 2014. All these developments contribute to increasing mutual visits and strengthening relations between the two countries in many areas.
For Korea, Kazakhstan is not only an important country contributing to the consolidation of peace on the Korean Peninsula but also a reciprocal partner in the field of trade and economy, including energy resources, construction, healthcare, and information technology. Korea wants to contribute to Kazakhstan's industrialization based on its experience of rapid economic development.
Korea wishes to build on the already established friendly relations between the two countries and create a model of cooperation for win-win development.Korea will continue to endeavor to strengthen mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries through various cultural exchange events. Korea will also endeavor to provide effective support to Kazakhstanis who wish to visit Korea.