YANGON, Myanmar -- On a visit to Myanmar's largest city, South Korean President Moon Jae-in laid out his vision Wednesday for closer partnerships between the two nations, with a focus on revving up cooperation on infrastructure and culture as well as promoting people-to-people exchanges.
He was addressing a business forum in Yangon, the economic hub of the Southeast Asian country, involving hundreds of South Korean and Myanmar business figures. Vice President Myint Swe was among the dignitaries.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a keynote speech at a business forum in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sept. 4, 2019. (Yonhap)
A symbolic groundbreaking ceremony was held at Lotte Hotel Yangon, together with the forum, for a joint industrial zone to be built just north of Yangon.
Earlier this year, the two sides signed a deal on creating the South Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex by 2024. Myanmar's Ministry of Construction has teamed up with Korea Land and Housing Corp. for the project.
Moon described the joint venture as a "starting point" for a joint voyage toward peace and prosperity.
"I hope that the South Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex will serve as a stepping stone for the miracle of the Irrawaddy River, which is Myanmar's lifeline, as South Korea made the miracle of the Han River with economic growth," he said.
He pointed out Myanmar's huge growth potential as a "bridge" linking 3.4 billion consumers in China, India and Southeast Asia.
"It's a young and dynamic country, with those aged below 30 accounting for half of the population of 53 million," he said.
Myanmar's economy is growing 6-7 percent every year, boosted by the government's reform drive.
Moon said South Korea will bolster people-oriented bilateral ties to share its knowledge and experience for schools, research institutes and trade promotion agencies in Myanmar.
The two sides will also deepen partnerships in infrastructure and development. South Korea has decided to double its aid for Myanmar through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund between 2018-2022 from the previous five years to $1 billion.
A related accord was signed on Tuesday immediately after Moon's talks with President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw.
"Third, (we) will promote cultural exchanges and expand cooperation starting from (the production and trade of) daily necessities," he added.
Moon invited Myanmar business leaders to visit Busan, a South Korean port city, in late November when it hosts the South Korea-ASEAN special summit and a separate summit with five Mekong nations.
The president then visited the Martyrs' Mausoleum in the former Myanmar capital. He also paid tribute at a stone monument, established there in 2014, to honor South Korean victims of a terrorist bombing attack by North Korean agents.
On Oct. 9, 1983, a bomb exploded as South Korean officials prepared for a wreath-laying ceremony there just before then-South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan's arrival. His car was delayed in traffic.
The blast claimed the lives of 17 South Koreans, including some Cabinet members. The monument is engraved with the victims' names. (Yonhap)