Belgium celebrates 120 years of diplomatic relations with South Korea

김종관 기자l승인2021.04.16l수정2021.04.16 14:40

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Belgium celebrates this year 120 years of diplomatic relations with South Korea. On March 23, 1901, Belgium and Korea signed a treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation.

Belgium was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the independence of the Republic of Korea. A few years later, our country also did not hesitate to join with over 3,000 volunteers the UN forces that fought for freedom and democracy in the Korean War between 1951 and 1953.

Korea and Belgium have a long history of friendship and enjoy strong political, economic, academic and cultural ties, as illustrated by the State visit to Korea of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde in 2019, the second in the history of our bilateral diplomatic relations. Belgium and Korea are political partners. Our countries share a common commitment to the defense of values such as democracy, human rights, international cooperation and multilateralism as well as free trade.

Both Belgium and South Korea have experienced high economic growth since the 1950s. Our country wants to deepen relations with this strong Asian economy and member of the G20 and cooperate more in future-oriented sectors such as IT, life sciences, the transition to green energy and circular economy - without losing sight of our good trade results in more traditional branches such as the automotive and chemical industries.
 

Message from Sophie Wilmès – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade, and the Federal Cultural Institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Dear partners, colleagues and friends,
It is with great pleasure that I have accepted the patronage of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Korea. 
Since 1901, our two nations have been united in a valuable friendship. A friendship that has weathered good and bad days. We have fought shoulder to shoulder during the Korean War and have witnessed each other’s countries grow stronger both economically and politically.
Belgium and Korea share the same values of democracy, multilateralism and free trade. We support each other in defending these values, not only on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe, but worldwide, by joining forces on various multilateral platforms. Today, this solidarity and this like-mindedness help us fight – together with the entire international community – against the COVID-19 pandemic and work towards a swift socio-economic recovery worldwide.
Although our countries are geographically distant from one another, I am glad to witness not only ever growing trade, but also increasing people-to-people connectivity. Business people travel from Korea to Belgium and vice versa, while young people, artists and researchers find and inspire each other and connect us all through their hard work and dedication. The slogan for this celebration, “Sharing friendship together, Enjoying prosperity together”, sums up our relations very well. 
Therefore, it is with great joy that I announce the rich programme of this festive 120th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, with numerous political, economic, academic and cultural events throughout the year 2021.

Message from Peter Lescouhier – Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Seoul

Dear reader,
The celebration of 120 years bilateral diplomatic relations is also an occasion to take stock of what we have achieved together and to predict what the future holds in store. Especially in the last decades, although geographically far apart, we have grown closer together in many fields.  
Developments in the economic field are promising. Korean companies show a growing interest in the logistic assets and knowhow of Belgium and in its industrial achievements in sectors as fine chemistry or pharmaceutics. More and more Koreans learn to appreciate Belgian food and drinks and shop for Belgian luxury items such as diamonds. Belgian companies, for their part, are increasingly interested in Korea’s contribution to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Belgian consumers are enchanted by Korean cultural productions and are convinced of the quality of Korean consumer products, such as cars and electronics. 
In the academic field, the University of Ghent established a campus in Korea, the first European university to do so. Solvay, a chemical giant from Belgium, was the first to set up an R&D center in a Korean university: its center at EWHA university still serves a model of successful cooperation between European industry and Korean academic institutions. The fan base for hallyu is growing in Belgium, especially among young people. A growing number of them want to experience living in Korea, and they have now the choice between choosing one of the many exchange programs to enrich their academic career, or they can make use of the Working Holiday program to spend a year in Korea.  In the cultural field more and more Belgian artists find their way to Korea, and vice versa, often with the support of the Korean Cultural Centre in Brussels.
Now that Korea and Belgium both want to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050, a new field has opened in bilateral industrial and academic cooperation in order to achieve sustainable growth together. The future of our bilateral relations looks very bright indeed!


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