Past war allies to get aid, advice

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Past war allies to get aid, advice

Jangchung Gymnasium has long served as a mecca for local sporting events ranging from volleyball and boxing to basketball and wrestling.

But construction of the giant 9,775 square-meter facility in 1963 would not have been possible without the help of engineers from the Philippines, a country that had a much higher economic standing and far superior technologies than Korea.

At the time, Korea didn’t have the know-how, let alone the necessary resources, to build such a structure. Fast-forward 46 years, and the tables have turned, with Korea far surpassing the Philippines in a number of economic and business measures. Officials from the Philippines who attended a forum in Seoul last September to discuss issue related to developmental aid even said their country has “seriously studied” why the two countries’ economic status reversed over the past few decades.

It’s a common story for Korea, which has surpassed many countries that it once relied on for guidance and assistance. Now, Korea is actively looking to return the favor.

The government said this week that it plans to offer special treatment to developing nations that sent their troops to help South Korea during the Korean War (1950-53), in part via a program that works to share the nation’s knowledge in economic growth.

“To give back to the international community for what they did for Korea, we will roll out developmental aid programs specifically for those who helped us,” said Joo Yung-hwan, the director of the Finance Ministry’s International Economic Affairs Bureau. “The Knowledge Sharing Program will also join such efforts.”

The program, known as KSP, was created in 2004 amid an increase in demand from other countries eager to learn about Korea’s past developmental experience. Major beneficiaries of the program to date include Vietnam, which in 2006 created it own version of the Korea Export-Import Bank.

Officials behind the program, however, hope to take it to another level this year as part of an effort to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the war.

Turkey, which sent 15,000-strong troops to Korea during the war, has already benefited, having received advice on developmental strategies. Colombia, which sent troops here five decades ago, is also on the list of countries that will benefit from KSP this year, while Peru and Brazil, which sent supplies to South Korea during the war, are also on the list.

The list of KSP beneficiary nations has expanded from only two in 2004 to 16 this year.

As part of the program, Seoul officials record the experiences of veteran government officials who helped devise and implement state-initiated economic growth projects, including their tribulations and trials in the past.

They then compile the information to make a packet of knowledge summing up the country’s experiences.


By Hoh Kui-seek [hawon@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

6·25 때 도와준 나라 경제발전 ‘특별과외’ … 60년 전 은혜 갚는다


#1960년대 초 완공된 장충체육관은 필리핀 기업의 손을 거쳤다. 우리 기술만으로는 그렇게 큰 건축물을 지을 수 없었기 때문이다. 당시만 해도 한국전쟁 참전국인 필리핀은 우리보다 소득수준이 높고, 기술도 앞서는 나라였다. 지난해 수출입은행이 개최한 대외경제협력기금(EDCF) 워크숍에서 윌프레드 디 페리오 필리핀 국가경제개발부 프로젝트담당 국장은 이렇게 말했다.

“한국은 50년 전만 해도 필리핀보다 낙후된 국가였으나 지금은 역전됐다. 이유가 뭘까, 한때 심각하게 연구한 적도 있다.”

#압둘라예 와데 세네갈 대통령은 지난 1월 한국을 찾아 “경제발전 경험을 배우고 싶다”고 밝혔다. 뜻밖의 요청이었다.

“한국은 세네갈의 발전 모델이다. 한국이 서부 아프리카 진출을 희망한다면 필요한 모든 협조를 다하겠다.”

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