By Amna Al-Shimmari
KUWAIT, April 25 (KUNA) -- With the visit of South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon to the country next week, strong bilateral relations are anticipated to reach even higher levels.
Premier's Lee's visit is to take place on April 30 - May 3, 2019, during which he, and his accompanying delegation, are scheduled to meet senior state officials.
In this vein, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah paid a visit to South Korea in May 2016, while former speaker of the National Assembly Chung Sye-kyun visited Kuwait in April 2017 upon an invitation from National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim; who had been on an official visit to Seoul back in May 2015.
Kuwait and South Korea have always enjoyed strong political and economic relations, where South Korea acknowledged Kuwait as an independent state in December 1962. Relations between the two sides have been marked by mutual respect and benefit over the past 50 plus years, ever since Kuwait first exported oil to South Korea in the 1960s. In March, 1963, South Korea requested establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, and in December 1969, the South Korean Commercial Development Institution was established in Kuwait. In July, 1972, the South Korean commercial representation office was established in Kuwait, and in June of 1979 the two countries agreed on exchanging diplomatic representation, where on July 17 of the same year the South Korean embassy was inaugurated in Kuwait. The first South Korean ambassador to Kuwait presented his credentials to Late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on March 12, 1980. Kuwait's posted its first ambassador to Seoul in 1993.
Since the 1070s, South Korean companies have helped in establishing Kuwait's infrastructure, as well as lay highways, bridges, hospitals, electricity and water desalination stations. Also during the 1070s and early 1980s, hundreds of South Korean businessmen visited Kuwait. Currently, some 2,500 South Korean citizen live in Kuwait.
South Korea was among the first countries to condemn the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, supporting Kuwait and its sovereignty. South Korea consolidated its position by sending medical and air-lift teams during the war to liberate Kuwait, as well as contributing USD 500 million in war expenses.
Kuwait and South Korea always aim to consolidate and develop commercial and economic cooperation for mutual benefit, especially in the fields of commerce and investment, reaffirming willingness of both countries' businesspeople to further such vital relation.
Official statistics show that South Korean businesspersons seek to make Kuwait a transit point for their products to neighboring countries. The number of South Korean commercial agencies involved in Kuwait total 150, while Kuwaiti agencies working with Korea are around 100, most in the car and spare parts sector. Kuwait annually invests around USD 900 million in South Korea in the fields of finance, banking and oil. In 2017, the volume of commercial exchange between the two countries totaled USD 10 billion.
With government-owned Korea Land and Housing Corporation designing South Saad Al-Abdullah area - the first eco-friendly and smart city in Kuwait - and Incheon International Airport Corporation operating Kuwait International Airport's Terminal 4, relations between the two friendly countries have witnessed a significant qualitative leap. (end) ash.hb