TAXILA: Seoul cherishes its historic bilateral relations with Islamabad and wants to further improve them through cultural and economic cooperation between the two countries, South Korean Ambassador Sung-Kyu Kwak said on Friday.

Speaking to mediapersons after a visit to the city, the envoy said both countries share rich historical and cultural links.

“According to some historians, the monk who spread Buddhist teachings throughout the Korean peninsula in the 4th Century, Monk Maranatha, hailed from Swabi, a city in the present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

The Korean ambassador said both countries have potential markets for each other and can fulfil each others’ requirements.

He said Islamabad and Seoul have signed a $500 million development framework under which Korea will provide the money to Pakistan for its development projects including hydropower, road infrastructure, improvement of power distribution, information technology and those in the health sector.

The envoy said the current trade volume between Pakistan and Korea is far below their potential and stood at $1.34 billion in 2017, having increased from $828 million in 2015.

Mr Kwak said that the Korean Culture Heritage Foundation will soon sign an agreement with the Department of Archaeology and Museums for the preservation and treatment of cultural relics with the aim of building the capacity of Pakistani archaeologists and to conserve the cultural heritage and relics with the latest technology and preservation methods.

He said Seoul is keen to further support and cooperate with the federal and provincial governments such as assisting the KP government in rehabilitating Buddhist stupas and other historic relics and developmental projects.

The ambassador said Korean investors are working in four hydro power projects including three in KP and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He said South Korea is planning to undertake a number of hydropower projects worth billions of dollars in KP.

In March this year, he said, an agreement was signed between the two countries for the employment of Pakistani workers in South Korea for another two years and stressed on business-to-business contact.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2018