RoK, Vietnam urged to boost people-to-people diplomacy hinh anh 1Chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association Chol Young Joo (Source: VNA)

Seoul (VNA) – Vietnam and the Republic of Korea should enhance people-to-people diplomacy in order to elevate their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, according to Chol Young Joo, Chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association (KOVIFA).

Chol expressed his opinion in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s trip to the RoK for an official visit and to attend the ASEAN-RoK Commemorative Summit.

He noted that since the two countries estabilished diplomatic ties in 1992, the bilateral relations have been thriving in multiple areas, including politics, economics, culture, education and arts.

In politics and diplomacy, the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries are expanding at both central and local levels.

Regarding economics, Vietnam is the fourth biggest trade partner of the RoK, with two-way trade amounting to 68.2 billion USD in 2018, a 130-fold increase from that of 1992.

Vietnam is also the RoK’s third largest investment destination, attracting roughly 66.5 billion USD of investment from the RoK since 1988, making it Vietnam’s top investor.

In 2018, Vietnam welcomed about 3.43 million Korean tourists which are expected to exceed 4 million this year. The Korean arrivals to Vietnam are likely to grow 30 – 50 percent annually while the number of Vietnamese visitors is also on the rise, Chol said.

Regarding education, Chol said faculties of Korean language and Korean studies have been opened at 28 Vietnamese universities while the number of Vietnamese students in the RoK is expanding, reaching over 27,000 last year.

The Korean wave, or Hallyu, has become increasingly popular in Vietnam thanks to Korean dramas and movies, cosmetics, K-pop culture, cuisine and sports. In particular, the achievements of the Vietnamese national football team under the leadership of RoK head coach Park Hang-seo have helped heighten the RoK’s reputation among Vietnamese people and vice versa.

According to the KOVIFA Chairman, exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have so far been centred on the relationship between the two governments and their enterprises.

“Now, to develop the ties into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, we should promote people-to-people diplomacy,” Chol said.

He said people-to-people diplomacy and cultural exchange will play an increasingly important role in promoting bilateral relations.  

“Visits and tourism activities of the people of both countries will deepen mutual understanding of the culture and history of both countries,” he added./.