Brunei-Korea ties remain strong

|     James Kon     |

BILATERAL relations between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Korea will continue to develop following an increase in the number of activities and visits in recent years.

Bilateral ties between the two nations were lauded by outgoing South Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Cho Won-myung during an interview with the Sunday Bulletin recently.

Cho Won-myung, who arrived in November 2014, will leave Brunei on May 8 following a fruitful three and a half years of tenure.

“For the past three and a half years, our bilateral relations have developed tremendously. South Korea remained one of the top trading partners of Brunei,” he said.

According to statistics from Korea, he said that last year’s trade volume between Brunei and South Korea stood at USD900,000 which is more than BND1 billion. The trade volume mainly is from oil and gas export from Brunei to Korea.

Outgoing South Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Cho Won-myung. – JAMES KON

He said the figure decreased compared to the previous year because of the drop in oil price.

“Trade is still stable despite the fluctuation of oil price because there are still many Korean products imported to Brunei such as Korean cars, electronics and others. I think the figure should be higher because some of the Korean products are imported through other countries,” he said.

“In 2014, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam conducted a State Visit to Korea and attended the commemorative summit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN and Korea Dialogue relationship,” said Cho Won-myung.

On the development of tourism, Cho Won-myung lauded the increase of Korean tourists arrivals to Brunei after Royal Brunei Airlines introduced direct flights from the country to Seoul since December 2017 boosting the bilateral relation.

He said, “Last year, the number of Korean tourists arriving in Brunei increased by almost 200 per cent while the number of Bruneians visiting Korea increased by 26 per cent. I am confident the figures will increase.”

The Government of Korea prioritised maintaining good relations with all ASEAN member countries including Brunei Darussalam.”

Meanwhile, Korean con-struction company Daelim, successfully completed the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee Celebration of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne. Daelim completed 70 per cent of the two sections of the Temburong Bridge project.

He added, “We have a lot of activities inviting Korean companies to invest in Brunei where every year we focus on different areas. We focus on the environmental aspect followed by Bioinformatics where there is a lot of potential for Brunei to cooperate with Korea. We also did ICT and Fin-tech as well as AI technologies. Korean professors were in Brunei to share their experience and expertise and we are proposing to set up an AI studies centre in Brunei.

“Halal food and recyclable energy were among the potential areas for cooperation. In the future, I hope the potential for cooperation will materialise,” he added.

On promoting cooperation for small-medium enterprises of both countries, Cho Won-myung said, “The Korean Government recently established the SME and start up ministry.”

On cultural exchanges, he said, “We are developing cultural and youth exchanges through the annual Korean festival. In 2016, we invited a B-Boy group here and hosted a performance at the Jerudong Park Amphitheatre where some 4,000 Bruneians enjoyed the show. Boosting exchange, the Korean Government also provided scholarships to Brunei students every year.

“Ten young Bruneian students visited Korea for two weeks while Korean students also visited Brunei in youth exchange programmes to build on the foundation of future relations,” he said.

“Korean Navy ships also visit Brunei every year,” he said. “During my tenure, three Korean navy ships visited Brunei. Bilateral relations between both nations are also strengthened with the construction of the new Korean chancery and residence buildings at the Diplomatic Enclave.”

He added that there is a step-up in cooperation between the two nations after Brunei assumed the role of the coordinating country for ASEAN-Korea dialogue relation.

On leaving the country, he said he will miss his friends in Brunei, the fresh and clean air and the warmth as well as the friendly people.

Cho Won-myung wished continued peace and prosperity for Brunei Darussalam, for His Majesty and the people of the country.