Muscat: As the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Sultanate of Oman mark 40 years of their diplomatic ties, the Korean ambassador hopes to establish cooperation in new areas between the two countries.
Ambassador Kim Dae Sik said while relations between South Korean and Oman are strong, there are other sectors in which more cooperation can be fostered such as health care, railway technology, and fisheries and aquaculture.
Currently, the main areas of trade are oil and gas, motor vehicles and heavy industries. "I see a lot of potential for cooperation between our two countries, especially now that the Omani government is focusing more on developing the infrastructure," Kim said in an interview with the Times of Oman.
Kim said his homeland has a lot of expertise in a variety of fields that it can share with Oman. It's a global leader in using IT to digitalise its healthcare system, which is something Oman's Minister of Health showed a lot of interest in, during a recent visit to Korea.
As the GCC Railway develops in Oman, South Korea can also be helpful both in terms of sharing its own experiences and with construction. The Korea Rail Network Authority has a number of high-speed trains and local transit networks, each with a strong safety and performance record, and it has applied for tenders for the GCC Railway project in Oman.
"They have a very keen interest in participating in the railway project. We are well-qualified for this project. If a Korean company participated in the project, it would be very positive for Oman and Korea.
We are ready to transfer the technology," said Kim.
Like Oman, South Korea also has an extensive coastline with a vibrant fisheries industry, so now the countries are establishing ties in aquaculture. A Korean professor is teaching at SQU and some fisheries projects have begun in Oman with the help of Koreans, Kim explained.
Another area in which the countries are working together is police training. Korean police instructors recently spent a few weeks teaching Omani police instructors some of their skills, and according to Kim, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) would like to further boost these ties.
In addition to promoting long-term ties in new sectors, Kim will also organise some cultural events to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. He hopes to showcase some contemporary K-Pop, including some B-Boys, as well as traditional Korean music and dance, which will help people learn more about each other.
On a personal level, Kim, who has previously been posted in Germany and the UK, said he is happy to be in Oman and is fascinated by the blend of tradition and modernity, which he says Koreans can emulate. For example, he admires how the historical use of fragrances has been adapted to high-end perfume makers like Amouage.
"If we put the traditional elements into practical use for modern interpretations, you can reconnect to them. I found this very interesting," Kim reflected.
Though Kim only presented his credentials to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in December, he has been in Oman for the past six months. He has visited several Omani cities where Korean companies are working, including Sohar, Salalah, Duqm and Khasab, and he has hosted some Korean journalists recently so they could report on Oman.
"Honestly speaking, Oman is not so well-known in Korea yet. We should work together to increase awareness and understanding among the people of both countries," Kim noted.