TAXILA: Enhanced exchanges can strengthen cultural ties between Pakistan and Korea and will also promote tourism between the two countries, said Korean Ambassador Dr Song Jong-hwan on Monday.

Talking to Dawn after an event hosted by the Gandhara Art and Culture Association, the envoy said he wanted to establish a “cultural highway” between the two countries to cement cultural relations, much like the motorway that was also built by the Koreans.

Other than enjoying friendly relations for a long time, Pakistan is also important to the Korea because it is the birthplace of Buddhism. Therefore, there should also be a cultural highway to bring the people of both countries closer, the envoy said.

He proposed an exhibition hosted in Korea each September and said that cultural exchanges will also enhance tourism between the countries and that more Koreans would like to come to Pakistan for religious reasons as well.

Though the countries have been enjoying friendly diplomatic and business relations for decades, the cultural ties between the two countries are almost 1,700 years old, he said.

The envoy said that the youth of Pakistan can change the fate of the country and that the younger generation must learn more about the work ethics which were adopted by the Korean youth in the past.

“I am convinced that Pakistan will achieve its own economic miracle, the miracle of the Indus River,” he said.

Pakistan is an emerging market in the world and is blessed with a deep sea, a strategic location, natural resources and a talented younger generation which can bring a change, the envoy said.

Drawing a comparison with his own country, he added that Korea had fewer resources and is now considered one of the top economies of the world.

“This was possible because of the extraordinary sacrifice of the people of Korea and their work ethic,” he added.

Pakistan is a developing country and its youth make up 35pc of its population, he said, adding that with the problems that Pakistan is facing, including terrorism, economic crisis, target killings and corruption, it is time for the younger generation to step up and address the problems of the country.

The ambassador also appreciated the Gandhara Art and Culture Association for promoting a promoting a softer image of Pakistan and for making efforts to holding art and cultural exchanges with various countries.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2016