Korea and Uganda: Entering another 50 years of partnership
Posted Wednesday, March 20 2013 at 02:00
As true friends sharing many common historical experiences, now is the time for Korea and Uganda to open a new chapter of upgraded and exemplary partnership that will last for the next 50 years and beyond.
March 26 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Republic of Korea-Uganda diplomatic ties. Starting with a public lecture at the Makerere University on March 26 titled “Korea’s Economic Development: Its implications for Uganda”, there will be a series of events to highlight and boost our bilateral ties this year. Economic and diplomatic activities will take place in coming months while cultural events are scheduled for the latter part of this year. The time is ripe for serious collaboration between Korea and Uganda.
President Park Geun-Hye, the first female President of Korea, took office last month. She is the daughter of the late President Park Chung-Hee who led Korea in the 60s and 70s to the path of modernisation, achieving the ‘miracle of Han River’. At the heart of this miracle was the Saemaul Undong (new village movement). Korea’s industrialisation and export-driven rapid economic growth were based on this important foundation.
The return of Saemaul Undong (diligence, self-reliance and cooperation as its motto) in the limelight can have positive effects on not only the Saemaul Undong pilot projects but also the KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) projects for agriculture and rural development in Uganda. The Farmers’ Leadership Centre being built in Mpigi could become the most precious mindset change and on-site training and research centre in Africa, imparting Korean expertise in rural development. Another key KOICA project is the Soroti Fruit Processing Factory for enhancing farmers’ income through value-addition.
Also, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of our diplomatic ties, a high profile Korean business delegation will visit Kampala to hold a trade investment forum mid-May. Uganda is now at the critical juncture of economic development with important opportunities and challenges, and Korea, as the 7th largest trading nation and the 2nd most innovative country (according to Bloomberg Business Week) can be a serious economic partner of Uganda. Korea is renown in agro-technology, energy, construction, ICT and various manufacturing sectors and has produced many prominent world-class companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, POSCO, SK, Daewoo International, etc.
Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, has great potential for economic development. It is blessed with conditions far advantageous than what Korea faced at the early stage of development. Shortly after gaining independence, Korea became a war-torn country. The national division brought about by the civil war persists to this day.
Mass poverty, corruption, theft, idleness of youth like drinking and gambling, despair of the people were commonplace. But almost every Korean who visits Uganda for the first time seems to be struck by the ‘unexpected’ great natural beauty, endowment and most of all, wonderful people. As true friends sharing many common historical experiences, now is the time for Korea and Uganda to open a new chapter of upgraded and exemplary partnership that will last for the next 50 years and beyond.
Park Jong-Dae is the Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Korea