President Moon’s visit further strengthens Brunei-Korea ties

|     Message from Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Brunei Darussalam Yoon Hyun-bong     |

BRUNEI is known to most Koreans as the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures but Brunei and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are already traditional allies who have worked together in various ways since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1984.

In 1984, Brunei debuted as a member of the international community after gaining complete independence from Britain. At that time, ROK was the fourth country to establish diplomatic relations with Brunei after Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore.

This year is more special for both countries because not only that 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, but also that Brunei is a coordinator country for the ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Relations from August 2018 to August 2021, which serves as a window of dialogue between Korea and the 10 ASEAN member countries. Cooperation with ASEAN is very important to successfully realise one of the ROK’s major foreign policies, the New Southern Policy, and Brunei is playing a vital role in coordinating between the two parties.

As the two countries communicate closely during the three years, it is expected that bilateral relations will further strengthen and continue to fortify more than ever before.

Brunei and Korea are already strengthening their bilateral exchanges in many ways. Over the years, Brunei’s crude oil and gas have contributed to our striving economic development, and many Korean companies have participated in Brunei ordering businesses and also joint ventures in infrastructure construction projects. On October 2017, the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge, constructed by Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co, was successfully inaugurated with tens of thousands of citizens converging in the capital witnessing the opening of the bridge. The Temburong Bridge project, a long-cherished project by the Brunei government, is also underway. Upon completion of the Temburong Bridge, the long-divided land will be finally connected, reducing the length of travel time to 20 minutes, which usually takes one hour by sea and two hours by land.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Brunei Darussalam Yoon Hyun-bong

Meanwhile, many Bruneians have a love for Korean dramas and K-pop, and there are also an increasing number of young students who chose to study in Korea. On the other hand, many Koreans are all the more fascinated by the gift of nature Brunei possesses, and are frequently visiting Brunei to enjoy special cultural experiences where nature and city coexist.

The country’s unique atmosphere of Islamic culture, which is dominant but at the same time respects cultural diversity and the act of kindness to foreigners, is one of the leading factors that attract our tourists to the country.

Reflecting this, direct flights between Seoul and Bandar Seri Begawan, which were newly introduced in December 2016 with twice weekly chartered flights, are scheduled to be flying three times weekly as of March 2019, and will be increased to four times weekly from April this year.

At this meaningful time, President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Brunei is all the more special for both countries, with Brunei being President Moon’s first overseas visit this year, and this will be the first state visit to Brunei since 19 years ago. This will mark a special occasion to convey our government’s firm commitment to the New Southern Policy.

Our president and delegations will stay at the Edinburgh Palace.

It is expected that there will be comprehensive and substantive discus-sions on bilateral and regional coope-ration, cooperation on the international stage as well as the issues on the Korean peninsula. President Moon Jae-in’s visit will serve as a gesture for friendship between the two countries for the next 35 years to come, as it has been for the past 35 years. And I hope that people from both countries have more close feelings for each other on this occasion.