Bahrain: South Korea hopes to build on four decades of historic relations with Bahrain and further strengthen bilateral co-operation and trade.
“Bahrain has a special place in the hearts of Koreans,” said Ambassador Park Ho, as the two countries mark 40 years of diplomatic ties today.
“It has been our long-standing partner in the region and we hope to open a new chapter in the history of our co-operation and leap forward toward a further upgraded partnership.”
Relations between the two countries have prospered ever since the Korean Embassy was established in Bahrain in 1976.
“There have been times when the ties were not thriving.
“For instance, following the unprecedented financial crisis in Asia in 1998, the Republic of Korea was forced to close its Manama embassy in 1999.
“However, the Korean government sincerely wished to reopen the embassy, which it did in 2011.”
Bahrain was known as the ‘Pearl of the Gulf’ and enjoyed a reputation of openness and tolerance among Koreans, said Mr Ho.
“Bahrain has long been viewed as a gateway to the Middle East by Koreans.
“Korea’s inaugural flight to the Middle East region in 1976 was from Seoul to Manama and at that time no Korean could visit the Middle East without passing through Bahrain.”
South Koreans have also contributed to Bahrain’s infrastructure by putting up a number of landmark buildings.
“When diplomatic ties were first established, the focus was on boosting co-operation in construction and energy,” said Mr Ho.
“A number of Korean companies took part in the construction of infrastructure in Bahrain and put up, for instance, office buildings of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa, to name a few.
“Korean workers, returning home with their experience of working in the Middle East including Bahrain, contributed greatly to the country’s economic growth in the 1970s and 80s.”
The two countries hope to further deepen their co-operation.
“When the embassy reopened in 2011, we felt a deep sense of appreciation that not only had Korea not been forgotten by the people of Bahrain but indeed many Bahrainis remembered Korea as a dear friend.
“Moreover, the Bahraini people are now enthusiastic about having Korean products such as automobiles, mobile phones and high-tech devices and also greatly enjoy Korean culture, such as K-Dramas and K-Pop.
“Against this backdrop, there is indeed great scope for the further development of the Korea-Bahrain relations, moving beyond construction-and-energy-oriented co-operation to an even higher level.
“In the geopolitical context, Korea, surrounded by world powers – namely the United States, China, Japan and Russia – and Bahrain, lying between the two regional powers, Saudi and Iran, have great scope to further deepen their co-operation sharing a common perspective on peace and security in the respective regions.
“In the economic field, there is a great deal of common ground between the two countries in that Korea is seeking to find new growth engines, moving beyond its manufacturing-based economy and Bahrain is looking for a new economic model which can replace its petroleum-based economy.
“Building on this common ground the two countries may foster even stronger co-operation in the private sector and people-to-people exchanges, broadening the scope beyond the governmental level.
“Given that Bahrain has been ranked as one of the best places for expatriates and foreign entrepreneurs to live and do business, Bahrain is a perfect starting point for embarking on one’s journey to the Middle East, especially for young Korean pioneers exploring new opportunities in the region.”
Around 200 South Koreans live in Bahrain.