Thailand in brief
Major cities: Chiang Mai, Phuket, Nakhon Ratchasima
Official language: Thai
Population: 68.2 million
Religion: Buddhism (93.6%), Islam (4.9%), Christianity (1.2%) and others or none
Area: 513,120 square kilometers (198,115 square miles)
Number of Korean expats: Around 20,000
The diplomatic tie between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of Korea was officially established in 1958. The friendship, however, dates further back to the 1950-53 Korean War when Thailand became the first country in Asia to send military and food assistance to Korea. As many as 11,786 Thai soldiers were dispatched to fight along with 15 other countries under the United Nations Command.
Korea is Thailand’s 11th-largest trading partner. From January to October this year, the bilateral trade was valued at $9.17 billion, with Thailand’s exports totaling $3.2 billion and imports totaling $5.96 billion. The key products that Thailand imported from Korea were steel, chemical products, mechanic devices and electronic circuits. Major products Korea imported from Thailand were electronic circuits, precious stones, rubber, chemical products and plastics.
From January to September this year, 24 projects worth $145.9 million from Korean investors applied for investment promotion privileges from Thailand’s Board of Investment, with electronics being the leading sector. Major Korean companies investing in Thailand include Samsung Electronics and Posco. From Thailand to Korea, there’s only one Thai green energy company, Inter Far East Wind International Company Limited (iWind), investing in a wind farm project on Jeju Island.
Before this appointment as the Thai ambassador to Korea, Sarun Charoensuwan worked overseas as deputy chief of mission in Brussels and in the Thai permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva. He also served as director-general of the Department of East Asian Affairs and the Department of European Affairs. Charoensuwan earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and his master’s in foreign service from Georgetown University in the United States.
Weeree Thitipoonya works for her family businesses, which include dealerships for Toyota and Nissan cars in Bangkok, Phitsanulok Province and Samut Prakan Province. She formerly worked as secretary to the Committee on Communications and Telecommunications of the House of Representatives and also the Chief Executive Phitsanulok Provincial Administrative Organization. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Assumption University and her master’s in political science from Ramkhamhaeng University, both in Thailand.