South Korean President Yoon to visit Manila shortly

ENVOY-DESIGNATE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. meets with South Korean Ambassador-designate Lee Sang-Hwa during the presentation of his credentials to the President in Malacañang on Monday (July 10, 2023). Lee said South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is planning to visit the Philippines this year or early next year as the two countries mark the 75th anniversary of their relationship. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol plans to visit Manila shortly this year or early next year to highlight the two countries’ the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

In a statement on Monday, the Presidential Communications Office said (PCO) said South Korean envoy-designate to Manila, Ambassador Lee Sang-Hwa revealed the planned visit. The ambassador-designate presented his credentials on Monday to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Malacañang.

“President Yoon Suk Yeol looks forward to visiting the Philippines, if not this year, I’m sure sometime in the first half of next year as we mark our 75th anniversary,” Lee said.

Lee also told President Marcos that South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kin Jin-Pyo and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit the country this year to meet their counterparts to help further strengthen relations.

Marcos, for his part, said he looks forward to meeting the South Korean leader during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November.

“Of course, there are many other conferences and I hope that maybe in November when we go to the United States for the APEC because I’m sure your President will attend, maybe we’ll have a chance to at least meet and have a bilateral meeting,” Marcos said.

“After that, I think both sides will then be able to plan better. It’s been a busy year because we just finished our administration’s first year. So slowly, slowly, we are beginning to find ways to adjust our schedules to all these very important events that we are going through,” he added.

Marcos said his administration has already put in place policies that will help the transformation of the Philippine economy. He expressed hope that with strong partnerships and alliances with countries like South Korea, “we can always look forward to a better future and stronger alliance.”

Marcos said regional developments such as the ASEAN alliances are also taking a more dominant role in terms of security and defense. “It is the first time that we will have joint exercises with the ASEAN member nations. And slowly I think this is starting to stabilize the security and defense situation in our region,” he said.

The South Korean ambassador also agreed that “comprehensive regional strategy (as) ASEAN takes a centerstage and the Philippines strategic importance has heightened significantly.”

“So we look forward to elevating our relationship formally to strategic partnership at an appropriate time including many, many areas like security and defense cooperation, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

Lee also reiterated South Korea’s commitment to the Philippines on energy cooperation, noting his country is keenly interested in Bataan Nuclear Power Plant facility. “We presented, submitted our proposal for joint feasibility study,” he said.

In 2022, South Korea was the Philippines’ 4th largest trading partner. Total trade between the two countries amounted to US$15.44 billion. Total value of exports reached USD3.13 billion while imports amounted to US$12.31 billion.

In terms of defense, the Philippines procured from South Korea two 2,600-ton multi-million frigates, 12 units of FA-50 aircrafts for the Philippine Air Force (PAF), and a Pohang-class corvette for the Philippine Navy.

The defense department also signed last year a PHP30-billion contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the purchase of six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Philippine Navy, with the first delivery scheduled in 2025. (With PNA)