SHARED FUTURE

Oman 2017 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

Hwang Kyo-ahn, Acting President of the Republic of Korea, on the long shared history between Oman and Korea and areas of cooperation.

Hwang Kyo-ahn
BIOGRAPHY
Hwang Kyo-ahn was born in 1957 and was educated in Law at Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul. He passed the 23rd National Bar Examination in 1981 and has a long history of public service. He was Minister of Justice between 2013 and 2015 and became the 44th Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea.

The history of cooperation between Oman and South Korea dates back almost 1,000 years. There are historical texts in Korea and China referring to Arab merchants who are believed to be ancestors of the Omani people; it is written that, with their advanced navigation and shipbuilding technology, they came all the way to Byeokrando, a port of then Korea.

Based upon their long friendship, Oman and South Korea have, since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1974, built a firm partnership in various fields. The trade volume now stands at as much as USD4-6 billion per year. Moreover, Korea is the second-biggest market for Oman, while Korea imports its second-largest amount of LNG from Oman.

The cooperation between the two nations is not limited to trade—indeed, it has contributed to the nation building in both countries. For instance, a number of Korean companies have played a part in the process of realizing Oman's Vision 2020 by participating in numerous infrastructure-building projects in Oman. Furthermore, mutually beneficial cooperation between the two nations has now expanded to encompass a whole range of fields including IT, SMEs, science and technology, health, tourism, culture, minerals, and marine products.

In addition, Oman has taken the initiative in taking part in activities of the Korea-Arab Society, which was established by governments, enterprises, and relevant groups of Korea and 22 Arab countries, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding and development of Korea and the Arab world. Of particular note, the current secretary general of the KAS is the Omani ambassador to Korea.

Under the distinguished leadership of Sultan Qaboos, Oman has enjoyed long-lasting peace and remarkable prosperity, and has contributed greatly to the peace and stability of the Middle Eastern region. Oman also takes part in the international efforts together with other GCC countries to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, which represents a serious threat to the peace and security not only of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia but indeed the whole international community.

Moreover, Korea also actively participates in the activities of regional institutions led by Oman such as the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) so that it can play a part in the efforts to secure peace in the Middle East, and the Cheonghae Unit from the Republic of Korea Navy also cooperates with regional anti-piracy operations to eradicate pirates which pose a threat to the stability of the Gulf of Aden. The activities of the Cheonghae Unit are also supported by the Omani government; i.e. the Omani government proactively offered humanitarian aid by providing medical treatment to Korean patients who were victims of the Samho Jewelry incident when it was hijacked in January 2011 by Somali pirates.

In May 2012, the Omani government successfully completed its building of the Omani Embassy in Seoul, which, with its unique beauty with traditional Arab style, is greatly admired by local people, while the new Korean Embassy building in Oman, which opened in November 2016, has brought traditional Korean beauty to Muscat.
Oman and Korea have shared their traditions and culture based on their bonds and friendship that stretch back 1,000 years, and they are opening new doors, moving together toward a future of peace and prosperity in the 21st Century.