Editorial: Cambodia Always Seen Positively in RoK’s Foreign Policy

Phnom Penh, March 14, 2019 —

Since the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have established their diplomatic ties in 1997, Cambodia has always been seen positively in the RoK leaders’ foreign policy. Over the past 22 years, two RoK Presidents had paid their respective state visits to the Kingdom, while the current Korean President H.E. Moon Jae-in will begin his three-day state visit in Cambodia this afternoon, Mar. 14, 2019.

The diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and RoK were formed when H.E. President Kim Young-sam in office, but he had not visited Cambodia because, we could say, his term of office almost came to an end as he led the RoK from 1993 to 1998. However, the two nations’ diplomatic bond was a new chapter in their history.

Later on, under his leadership from 1998 to 2003, H.E. Kim Dae-jung was not able to visit Cambodia as well, but there were some arguments showing that this Korean statesman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, had also a positive foreign policy towards Cambodia. Many Korean investors and tourists began to invest and travel to Cambodia, and the RoK has become a major partner of Cambodia’s economic momentum until now.

After H.E. Kim Dae-jung’s administration, all Korean Presidents, except H.E. Ms. Park Geun-hye, paid their respective visits to Cambodia.

H.E. Roh Moo-hyun, who led RoK between 2003 and 2008, paid a state visit to Cambodia in November 2006. During his administration, Cambodia was recognised by its key role in the peace seeking process in the Korean Peninsula. Anyway, the Kingdom’s real role was not well known, but with the good relations between Cambodia and RoK and between Cambodia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), specifically between Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and RoK and between His Majesty the late King-Father Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and DPRK, some local and international analysts had linked Cambodian role to the peace seeking process in the Korean Peninsula at that time.

H.E. Lee Myung-bak, Korean President from 2008-2013, visited Cambodia twice – the first time was the state visit in October 2009, and the second was to attend the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in November 2012.

Even though she had not visited Cambodia, H.E. Ms. Park Geun-hye, Korean President from 2013 to 2017, did have a plan to visit the Kingdom in October 2016. And this afternoon, H.E. Moon Jae-in, the current President, will arrive Cambodia for his state visit until Mar. 16, 2019.

According to the press release of the Ministry of Foreign and International Cooperation, H.E. Moon Jae-in will have a royal audience with His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni and meet with Prime Miniter Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

H.E. Moon Jae-in and Samdech Techo Hun Sen will discuss ways to further enhance bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, and exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern and interest. Following their meeting, the two leaders will witness the signing ceremony of a number of agreements and make a joint press announcement. The two leaders are expected to address the Cambodia-RoK Business Forum to encourage greater investment, trade and economic exchange between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea.

H.E. Moon Jae-in’s first visit to Cambodia will be an important milestone in Cambodia-RoK bilateral relations and will significantly strengthen friendship and increase the scope and depth of cooperation between the two countries.

Yesterday, while presiding over a get-together with nearly 14,000 workers and employees from seven factories and enterprises in Koh Kong province, Samdech Techo Hun Sen also made his remarks on the forthcoming state visit of H.E. Moon Jae-in in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Premier spoke highly of the relationship between the two countries and said he could not wait to welcome the Korean President. He added that he will have a family reception with H.E. Moon Jae-in and his spouse, and the next day, there will be a bilateral meeting followed by a signing ceremony of cooperation deals and a business forum.

Related to H.E. Moon Jae-in’s state visit, H.E. Oh Nak-young, Ambassador of RoK to Cambodia, lauded the current and future relations and cooperation between the two nations.

In an interview with Rasmei Kampuchea Daily, a local newpaper, H.E. Oh Nak-young said Cambodia is “a New Tiger of Asia” which has achieved a steady 7.6 percent annual growth over the past 20 years and is continuing its high economic performance based on the “Rectangular Strategy”. He thought that Korea and Cambodia are suitable partners for shared prosperity in the future.

He said that relations between the RoK and Cambodia have progressed rapidly after the establishment of their diplomatic ties in 1997. The two-way trade reached US$975 million last year, up 20 times compared to 22 years ago, and about 200 Korean enterprises have been investing in Cambodia, while the people-to-people exchange has recoded around 400,000 people, up 200 times compared to only 1,000 in 1997.

H.E. Ambassador said this state visit is the third of its kind while the first two were made in 2006 and 2009. He expressed his strong hope that the visit will deepen the bilateral cooperation between both countries.

To sum up, H.E. Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Cambodia this time will continue to pave the way for more bilateral and multilateral relations. Although Cambodia is a small country with small population, we do hope that Cambodia will always be seen positively in the RoK’s foreign policy.

By Khan Sophirom, AKP