PH, Korea eye higher level of engagement as ties reach 75

DIPLOMATIC TIES. The Philippine Monument in Gyeonggi province built by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense in October 1974 to remember the Filipinos who fought to defend the security and freedom of the Republic of Korea. The Philippines and South Korea mark 75 years of diplomatic relations formally established on March 3, 1949. (PNA photo by Joyce Rocamora)

MANILA – The Philippine and Korean governments are eyeing an increased level of engagement in new areas of cooperation as the two states mark 75 years of diplomatic relations this year.

Formal diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea were established on March 3, 1949, when the country became the fifth country to recognize the Republic of Korea.

This was cemented by the deployment of the 7,420 Filipino soldiers who helped defend the South throughout the Korean War in the 1950s.

In a letter sent to the Korean Foreign Ministry, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo commemorated the anniversary and emphasized the robust bilateral relations between the two states.

“I attribute the success of our relations to our shared values of freedom and democracy, our common aspirations for regional peace, stability, and prosperity, and our commitment to work closely in addressing common challenges and opportunities,” he said.

In a separate congratulatory letter, his counterpart Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said “the Philippines, the first country among the ASEAN Members with which the Republic of Korea established diplomatic ties, holds a special place in the hearts of the Korean people.”

The Korean minister then looked back at the 75 years of Philippine-Korea cooperation, which have since expanded to trade, development cooperation, and people-to-people-exchanges.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday both ministers look forward to new areas of cooperation through the elevation of the Philippine-Korea relations to a strategic partnership.

On top of trade, defense, and development, Manila and Seoul are also closely working to increase interactions on science and technology, sustainable fisheries, and smart agriculture.

In the Senate, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution 946, recognizing the amity and cooperation between the two countries.

He also noted that South Korea is among the largest development partners of the Philippines with a contribution of USD2.1 billion as of 2020.

A valued trade and investment partner of the Philippines, South Korea ranked fourth in terms of bilateral trade at USD15.45 billion, and sixth in total approved investments at USD90.62 million in 2022.

“We expect bilateral relations between the Philippines and South Korea to deepen further as the two countries pursue mutually beneficial partnerships on areas of interest to both parties, as well as cooperation towards economic progress and development,” he said.

Gatchalian was designated by Senate President Zubiri as the chairperson of the Philippines-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association in the Philippine Senate. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)