A true partner

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A true partner

President Lee Myung-bak and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung agreed to promote a strategic and cooperative partnership between the two countries at a summit on Wednesday in Vietnam.

After 17 years of friendly relations, the bond between Korea and Vietnam has developed into a very cooperative relationship, encompassing politics, diplomacy and security.

The establishment of an overall partnership that puts the past aside, in such a short time, can be seen as the immediate result of an accord of strategic judgment that the two countries can create a mutually supplementary “win-win relationship.”

Vietnam, with a population of 85 million and a strong, hard-working national character, has, many commentators believe, the potential to become the central country in Southeast Asia.

The proof is its energy that fueled the country’s rise as a major new economic country just 20 years after it embraced a market economy.

Vietnam has utilitarian values to “not forget the past but pursue actual benefits,” and is a country that can play the base role of “neo-Asian diplomacy” pursued by the Lee Myung-bak administration.

As we expand our diplomatic horizon to Asia, we have to engage with Vietnam.

Since the establishment of friendly relations, trade has grown by around 20 to 40 percent each year and is sure to reach $10 billion this year.

Each country figures in the other’s list of top six trading nations.

In addition, the total investment by Korea in Vietnam at the end of last year was 2,058 projects and $16.5 billion, making Korea the No. 1 investor in the Southeast Asian nation in terms of number of projects, and No. 4 in amount.

The approximately 1,500 Korean companies in the country employ around 500,000 Vietnamese workers.

The exchange of human resources has also increased rapidly due to similar cultural factors. Around 40,000 Vietnamese women are married to Korean men, raising multicultural families.

Relationships between countries can only develop when they are prudently and continuously cared for, just as if they are plants that require watering.

Above all, consideration and respect for the other is important. The mistake of openly hurting the other’s feelings or pride must not be made.

Only when the premise of a sincere heart and attitude has been well established will Korea and Vietnam become true friends in the future, based on a strategic partnership that will benefit both regions.

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