South Korea plans to increase aid to NepalSpecial Envoy of South Korea’s President says he would discuss specific proposals with Prime Minister Dahal for next year.
South Korea wants to increase its development assistance to Nepal, take in more Nepali workers and help Nepal achieve economic success in a number of other ways including technology transfer, a South Korean diplomat said.
With Nepal and South Korea celebrating the golden jubilee of their bilateral relations next year, South Korea has taken a step to further enhance the bilateral relations by sending President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s Special Envoy Jang Sung Min to Nepal to discuss the activities to be carried out to mark the occasion as well as explore the areas to enhance the relations. Nepal and South Korea established diplomatic relations on 15 May 1974.
At a press meet in Kathmandu on Monday, Special Envoy Jang said he visited Nepal a year ahead of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations to study what can be done to “prepare for a new beginning next year to enhance the relations for the next 50 years.”
“The President [of South Korea] thinks that relations between Korea and Nepal should not be business as usual but how we can enhance our relations for the next 50 years for a better future,” he said.
He said that he has brought a number of proposals to mark the golden jubilee of bilateral relations and said he would share those proposals while meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal scheduled for Tuesday. “We will discuss ways to make a leap forward in relations and enhance relations in the next 50 years,” he said. “There will be discussions on policies, and specific events to be organised next year and there will be a profound discussion on diverse issues.”
The South Korean delegation headed by Special Envoy Jang on Monday met with Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Poudyal. The delegation also included representatives from the Korean Labour Ministry, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and some South Korean companies who had arrived in Nepal on Sunday.
South Korea has been providing development assistance to Nepal since 1976, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With South Korea emerging as one of the top 10 economic powers in the world, it wants to increase its development assistance to Nepal as well.
“My next objective of visiting Nepal is to discuss how to enhance South Korea's development assistance to Nepal,” he said.
According to Nepal’s Finance Ministry, the South Korean government disbursed $38 million in official development assistance to Nepal from fiscal 2016-17 to fiscal 2020-21.
Education, health, planning and statistics, agriculture and earthquake reconstruction are the top five sectors to receive South Korean assistance in those five years, according to the ministry.
An impoverished nation in the early 1950s when the Korean war broke out between South and North Korea, South Korea has developed its economy fast and emerged as one of the economic powerhouses in the world currently.
“[South] Korea has been able to develop in a short period of time thanks to the contribution of the international community,” the special envoy said. “Korea is now in the position to give back to the international community. We want to share our experiences with Nepal as it is in the midst of economic development.”
Stating that South Korea has a good idea about what to do in terms of the policy to help Nepal to achieve more success in economic development.
“We have the technology, education system and know-how and we want to work with Nepali people,” he said.
There are currently around 35,000 Nepali workers in South Korea.
“The number of Nepali workers is growing very fast,” said Jang. “Actually, they have not only made an important contribution to the Nepali economy but also to the Korean economy. We value their work in Korea.”
Kim Eun Chul, director general of the International Cooperation Bureau under the Ministry of Employment and Labour said the number of Nepali workers in Korea is the largest among the 16 countries which send their workers to South Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS) system.
According to him, as many as 14,500 Nepalis went to South Korea in 2022 under the EPS system. “Another 15,000-20,000 are expected to go in 2023,” he said, adding that the employers have preferred Nepali workers which may help attract even more Nepali youths next year.
South Korea has been one of the most lucrative destinations for Nepali migrant workers since the introduction of the Employment Permit System, a government-to-government mechanism, in 2008.
Nepal’s Department of Foreign Employment told the Post last month that around 19,000 individuals, 16,000 for manufacturing jobs and 3,000 for agricultural jobs, passed the language test in 2022. A large number of them have already got their labour contracts issued.