South Korea, Thailand agree on high-tech industry cooperation, closer defense ties

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announce the results of their Bangkok summit on Sept. 2, 2019. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announce the results of their Bangkok summit on Sept. 2, 2019. (Yonhap)

Bangkok: South Korea and Thailand have agreed to team up to cope with the fourth industrial revolution, expanding their time-honored ties to high-tech sectors.

They also signed an accord on exchanging and protecting military intelligence, as President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had summit talks at the Government House of Thailand, also known as Thai Ku Fa, in Bangkok.

“In today’s talks, Prime Minister Prayut and I agreed to further deepen the ‘strategic partnership’ (between the two nations) and open a future together of peace, co-existence and co-prosperity in East Asia,” Moon said in a statement.

First, he added, the two sides will strengthen cooperation on new industries, such as bio, robotics and future cars.

The Moon administration is seeking synergy between its innovative growth drive and Bangkok’s “Thailand 4.0” initiative.

He said South Korea and Thailand will work together in science fields, including the development of light source accelerator, research-purpose reactor and science satellites.

“In particular, (I) hope that South Korea, which has become the third nation to develop the fourth-generation light source accelerator, will participate in Thailand’s accelerator project,” Moon said.

Thailand, he stressed, is one of the most important partners for his government’s New Southern Policy intended to strengthen and broaden partnerships with Southeast Asian nations and India.

Moon said Thailand is South Korea’s traditional friend, having dispatched thousands of troops to help fight against North Korea during the 1950-53 conflict. Shortly after the outbreak of the war, Thailand sent a total of 6,326 service members. Among them, 129 were killed in action and five others went missing, with 1,139 wounded, according to official data.

Speaking at the start of his summit with Moon, the prime minister also noted that Thailand’s relations with South Korea have expanded to various sectors, including education, investment and technology.

He said he has enjoyed watching a Korean drama, titled “Descendants of the Sun,” which features a love story between a special forces soldier and a female doctor.

“Among Thai people, South Korean movies, singers and K-pop music are popular, as well as South Korea’s home appliances,” he said. “Last year, 1.8 million South Koreans visited Thailand and 550,000 Thai tourists went to South Korea.”

More than 400 South Korean firms are doing businesses in Thailand, the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

In addition to such people-to-people exchanges, Prayut said, the two sides have great potential for economic cooperation.

“President Moon’s trip this time is a very good opportunity,” he added.

South Korea and Thailand also signed five other memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on Industry 4.0, smart cities, Korean-language education, water development and railways.

Moon arrived in Bangkok on Sunday, becoming South Korea’s first leader to visit the Southeast Asian nation in seven years. He is also the first foreign leader to travel to Thailand since the launch of the Prayut administration in July.


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