Korea attaches great importance to friendship, cooperation with Kyrgyzstan – Ambassador


By Nurzhan Kasmalieva

BISHKEK: Last year Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Korea celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kyrgyz Republic Lee Wonjae, in an interview with Kabar Agency, spoke about trade and economic relations, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, tourist opportunities and shared his impressions of the country.

Last year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Korea. If we sum up the work done over the years, what can we add to the asset, and what areas need to be strengthened?

– Last year, the Republic of Korea and the Kyrgyz Republic celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. One of the national goals of the current Government of the Republic of Korea is to become aGlobal Core Country that contributes to freedom, peace and prosperity. In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Korea attaches great importance to the friendship and cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, in particular with Kyrgyzstan. We are determined to continue to develop these relations in the future.

Over the past 30 years, bilateral relations have developed in many areas. Since the situation with the coronavirus has recently stabilized significantly, over the past year, several visits of high-ranking officials of Kyrgyzstan to Korea took place on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. In addition to the official visit of the minister of foreign affairs, the visits were made by the minister of agriculture, the minister of economy and commerce, the minister of emergency situations and the minister of education and science of the Kyrgyz Republic. As we continue to intensify high-level exchanges this year, we will further strengthen the foundation for the development of bilateral relations. On the other hand, we will strive to ensure that cooperation in such areas as agriculture is consistently deepened and developed, and that bilateral relations become more mature.

– The trade turnover between our countries in the first half of 2022 amounted to about USD 63.5 million. It’s not very much. Nevertheless, the leaders of our countries and experts see great potential for bilateral economic cooperation. What areas do you see as the most promising? Also, Kyrgyzstan considers Korea as a role model with the most developed economy in the world, and ready to adopt best practices and practical skills in introducing new technologies. If we talk about large interstate projects, are there any specific plans or agreements between Bishkek and Seoul?


As far as I know, the total volume of trade between the two countries last year reached USD 370 million. Compared to the period before the pandemic, the volume of trade between the two countries temporarily decreased due to the impact of the coronavirus, but then recovered to its original level.

However, the situation is such that most of the trade turnover of USD 370 million is the imports from Korea to Kyrgyzstan, and the share of exports of goods from Kyrgyzstan to Korea is small, so it is necessary to think about how to correct this imbalance in the future.

Recently, the Korean IT-company “KT Corporation” opened its representative office in Kyrgyzstan and is exploring opportunities related to various types of business. Economic cooperation between the two countries is expected to be revived significantly in the future if Korean companies continue to accelerate their entry into the Kyrgyz market. As for the development cooperation, in 2021 the Government of the Republic of Korea included Kyrgyzstan in the list of priority countries under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. Four areas were identified as key areas of cooperation: public administration, environment, health, and agriculture, forestry and fisheries. As a result, several IT development cooperation projects are being implemented, such as the introduction of electronic ID cards and the Digitization of Parliament project. In cooperation in the field of agriculture, the KOPIA Center of the representative office of the State Administration for Rural Development of Korea was opened in Bishkek in August 2021, in connection with which a wide range of agricultural cooperation continues, namely the livestock breeding improvement project, as well as the technology support project for drying and processing fruits.

I believe that cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the Kyrgyz Republic will continue to be strengthened in the future in various areas, including official assistance for the development of information technology, tourism, etc. Negotiations on a loan agreement between the two countries on the “Functional improvement of the building of the Republican Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital in Bishkek” project through the Korea Economic Development Co-operation Fund (EDCF) are almost completed and, I hope that soon we will be able to start the beginning of the project.

At the end of September last year, the first Kyrgyz-Korean Business Forum in the field of light industry was held in Bishkek. Did this event bring the expected results, and what other projects are planned to be implemented to strengthen contacts between the business circles of the two countries?

– Within the framework of cooperation in the textile industry between the Republic of Korea and the Kyrgyz Republic, various events were held, such as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and holding seminars. The Textile and Light Industry Business Forum was held as part of the grant project “Technical support for solving problems in the textile industry” supported by the government of Kyrgyzstan.

In the case of Korea, in particular in the early stage of economic development, the textile industry has made a great contribution to the rise of the Korean economy, so I think that the textile industry is of great importance for Kyrgyzstan, which is seeking economic development by adopting the experience of Korea.

In this regard, I believe that the cooperation of Kyrgyzstan with Korea in the field of textile industry is quite a promising direction, allowing to combine the large labor resources of Kyrgyzstan with Korean technologies and know-how, and to transfer Korean experience.

Contacts in the humanitarian and cultural spheres are an integral part of a full-fledged political dialogue. How is the dialogue developing and relations being built in these areas?

– Last year, various cultural events were held to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The cultural events were successfully held, including the National Gugak Center’s Korean Traditional Music and Dance Ensemble Concert, Korean Speech Competition, K-Pop Festival, Taekwondo Cup, Kimchi Festival, etc.


I want to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Kyrgyzstan for their interest in and love for Korean culture. In the future, we will continue to hold many good Korean cultural events that will strengthen the emotional closeness between the peoples of the two countries. On the other hand, I hope that activities to get acquainted with the Kyrgyz culture in Korea will be intensified, and many cultural events are held that can arouse interest and affection for Kyrgyzstan.

It was planned several times to open direct flights between the capitals of our countries, but this never happened. Is this issue still on the agenda? After all, regular flights will be useful not only for enhancing business contacts, but also for developing tourism.

– As far as I know, the South Korean airline “T’way Air” continues to promote work on the launch of a direct flight from Incheon to Bishkek. However, a specific date for the opening of the flight is not yet known, as the airline is still studying the time frame. In case of the launch of direct flights between the two countries, it is natural that exchange and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries will increase significantly. But so far, the opening date of the flight is under development by the airline.

At the end of our conversation I wanted to talk about tourism. I hope you got a time to see Kyrgyzstan, get acquainted with our nature. How do you assess the tourism potential of our country?

– In Kyrgyzstan, I visited Issyk-Kul and Son-Kul, as well as Osh, Talas and other regions. Having visited various regions, I fully share the opinion about the natural beauty and great tourism potential of Kyrgyzstan. I hope that the tourism sector will continue to develop dynamically and become the main industry in Kyrgyzstan. As far as I know, after the coronovirus pandemic, the number of Korean citizens visiting Kyrgyzstan has increased markedly. I believe that it is necessary to consider the possibility of repeatedly actively conducting programs or events in Korea that can introduce the nature of Kyrgyzstan and its tourism potential.

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