23rd October is the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Iran. Series of congratulatory events are lined up both in Tehran and Seoul until the end of this year.
During the last half century, two countries have forged a solid relation and contributed to each other’s economic development. Particularly, Korea’s economic leap in the 70’s would have not been possible, were it not for the vast economic projects of Iran. Korea emerged one of the major trade partner of Iran and its oil purchaser. 55th anniversary is more meaningful this year, not because of repetition of same number, but because it is time to evaluate our past relations and decide the direction we head to for the future. Could we stay in the same course or should we take a new track?
This question is more relevant at the time of the economic boom brought by the JCPOA. As one of the major beneficiaries of the historic deal, Korea praises the bold vision of the Iranian government and its seasoned diplomacy to make the vision a reality. Korea admires the faithful implementation of Iran, which is verified and confirmed by the IAEA. Since the JCPOA, our trade volume increased 70% giving us comfortable expectation to exceed 10 billion USD this year. Korea companies are rushing in and Korea is legally committed to provide up to 8 billion USD to Iran and another comparable amount is in the pipeline.
The current achievements may make us complacent with the, course we navigated during the past years. The future course needs to be correctly set without being misled by the current boom and with a critical review on the past relations.
I think the relations of Korea and Iran is not stable. It extremely depends on ‘trade and even worse, only on several items, especially oil. Trade partner can be switched at any time on better offer. I do not expect that Iranians continue to buy Korean products even though they can find better products at lower price. Likewise, Koreans are not expected to continue to buy Iranian oil when cheaper and better oil is available. We have to diversify our relation beyond trade so that various economic activities will be incorporated. The vital component of the current economic relations shall be changed from trade to investment. Our economy shall be welded by investment, not glued by trade. Political, social, cultural cooperation shall be even more encouraged.
Without being supported by mutual understanding, stabilized and diversified relations cannot stand firm. We can buy something from whom we are ignorant of, but nobody will lend money to whom he does not know well. Our knowledge for the other is superficial. Korea is not a land of JangGom and JuMong so much as Iran is not a country of oil and gas. More efforts need to be poured from both governments in order to make their people more familiar to the other’s culture, history, mode of life, philosophy and so on. Governments’ efforts shall be flanked with all people’s support and participation. Tourism, cultural activities, student exchange could be effective in this regard. The more opportunities to expose ourselves, the closer we will become. This familiarity will fuel the engine of our friendship.
The journey we have been through so far is very fruitful. But mostly it is a face to face relation for transactions. During the new voyage we will embark, we need to sail together shoulder to shoulder. The compass in our hand directs diversification and mutual understanding.
date: 10 October 2017 id: 11165 source: