[LETTERS to the editor]Korea’s proud global roleRecent years have seen major Korean companies taking leading roles in the global market. Samsung has done its share in the fields of telecommunications and electronics and Hyundai in automobiles.
What is not well known is the increasingly active role played by the government of the Republic of Korea in world politics. A series of events which took place in the second half of 2005 illustrate the willingness and eagerness of the Korean government to actively participate in global affairs and take a leading role as a contributor to the world.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy has realized the importance of international aid and burden-sharing among developed nations and is taking steps to increase its contribution to official development assistance, in the forms of grants and loans, mainly to developing and transitional nations. The current share, 0.06 % of the Gross National Income (GNI) or $400 million, will be increased to 0.1% of GNI by 2009, when adopted.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is also considering, by 2009, applying for membership of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, the principal OECD body that deals with issues of cooperation with developing countries.
The Ministry of Defense established a Peace Keeping Operation Center in 2004 and has actively participated in training, information sharing and workshops in Europe and Canada. UN peacekeeping is one of the most vital UN operations and Korea has participated in this since 1993. A contingent consisting of 1,160 Korean soldiers in blue helmets that could be deployed within two months has been proposed.
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea’s main agency set up in 1991 to coordinate, promote and channel the grant aid and technical development know-how of the Korean government to developing countries, has steadily increased its contributions to the developing world. KOICA provided assistance to 138 countries and 10 international organizations in 2004. That number is to increase in 2005 and thereafter.
Our office, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will receive $1.5 million in 2006 from the Korean government, an increase of 35 % from 2005. That contribution is expected to be increased further. Although Korea, as the 11th largest economy in the world, has belatedly increased its contribution, the action itself deserves much credit.
Pubic support, nonetheless, remains crucial in carrying out all the above-mentioned projects. The Korean people need to be well informed of such proud projects for public support only comes from that.
Now is time for Koreans to do more for the world and to be proud as Koreans.
by Lee Yong-hee