Past war allies to get aid, adviceJangchung 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 [email@example.com]
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