(MENAFN - Arab News) A visiting official from a Korean non-governmental organization said he intends to harness a key Saudi government foreign policy to open new areas of cooperation between the East and the Kingdom.
Lee Jong Cheon, the chairman of the Korea-Saudi Friendship Society (KSFS) also known as Abdullah Lee, is currently on a visit to the Kingdom and said he cherishes the Look East policy initiated by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to help bridge the gap between the east and the Kingdom.
Lee, who manages the Korea-Saudi Newsletter, the bi-monthly online edition of his organization, said KSFS was making a great effort through its website to link both Saudis and Koreans for a common cause. He also said he has plans to post his organization's regular magazine on the website too.
He said the online edition has a daily readership of 1,000 browsers mostly from the Kingdom and countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore.
"On the front page of the online edition we have displayed a direct link to Arab News," he said, adding KSFS is keen on disseminating information about the Kingdom to its website's visitors.
"This year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Saudi-Korean relationship and we are proud that we have achieved a lot in promoting bilateral activities," Lee said.
However, he added many more things could be achieved to deepen existing bilateral ties.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was the chief guest at the 27th National Heritage and Culture Festival at Janadriyah recently.
Lee, who was working for the Korean Embassy in Riyadh as its counselor in 1995, was accompanied by Goal (Ken) Simon, chief executive officer of Tokyo-based communication network company Se-Silkroad.
"While strengthening Saudi-Korea relations, our intention is to make Korea as a hub to coordinate activities between the Kingdom and countries such as Singapore and Japan," he said, adding his goal is to develop economic, social and political relations between the Kingdom and the east.
He said KSFS was established in 2004 and aimed to promote amicable relationships and understanding between the people of Korea and Saudi Arabia and strengthen cultural, economic and allied relations between the two countries. The organization is approved by his country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he noted.
In an effort to facilitate cultural interaction between Korea and the Kingdom, Lee said that he is making arrangements for a group of Korean youths to visit Saudi Arabia.
He said some members of the Korean Alpine Club would like to conduct a joint expedition team with the Kingdom to cross the Empty Quarter (Rub Al-Khali) as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Saudi-Korean relations. Such a visit will bring the youths of the two countries close to each other and help bridge a mutual understanding between the two groups.
"Saudi Arabia has abundant natural resources and a large proportion of youths with high potential," he said, adding that Koreans have high enthusiasm for education with many students willing to study abroad.
Korea has become one of the world's top economies through tremendous development, he said, adding that if both countries work together they can produce a greater synergy.
In a message sent to the KSFS print magazine, Saudi Ambassador in Seoul Ahmed Al-Barrak described the publication as an important source for many of those interested in Saudi-Korean bilateral relations.
"The magazine, which is expected to highlight the experience of the two countries in several fields, will serve as an important channel that introduces investment opportunities in both countries," he said, pointing out Lee's academic expertise coupled with practical experience would enhance cultural bonds between the two countries.
"Korea is an important country for the Kingdom in terms of its global economic relations, being a developing country with useful and impressive development experience due to its international influence as a G20 member and as one of the important trading partners with the Kingdom."
The Kingdom has the distinction of being the first Arab country to throw its weight behind South Korea, recognize it as an independent nation after the Korean War and open its diplomatic mission in Seoul in 1963.
South Korea has all the potential to be a favorite destination for Saudi and Gulf tourists. Around 1 million Muslims live and work in Korea, a nation that boasts rapid growth, lush greenery and a hospitable 50 million-strong population. In Seoul alone, there are around 40 halal food restaurants besides several mosques, Arabic tour guides and tour packages to suit all segments of tourists from the Gulf region.
Riyadh and Seoul have been committed to the development of bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1962.
"The bilateral relationship between Riyadh and Seoul has been characterized by stability, consistency and significant development as a result of the last summit talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and the late former Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in the Saudi capital on March 24, 2007," said Al-Barrak.
The Kingdom has been Korea's largest oil supplier. Seoul is one of Saudi Arabia's 10 largest trading partners with bilateral trade totaling 40 billion annually. The balance of trade is in favor of Riyadh because of its oil supplies.