Next year will mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and Malaysia. We are very old friends who have endeavored to emulate each other. I have been invited to Malaysia as the first state guest of His Majesty Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah who was enthroned this January and, at the same time, the first state guest since the launch of Malaysia’s new Administration. It has truly been an honor. This is the result of the friendship that has been forged between the people of our two countries.
Korea’s trade with Malaysia last year alone amounted to nearly US$20 billion. The people of Malaysia are enthusiastic about the Korean Wave, and the Petronas Twin Towers, a symbol of the capital Kuala Lumpur, are still steeped in the legendary stories of Korean construction companies.
The global halal market – created as a way to preserve Islamic culture – is now valued at US$2 trillion. We have signed an MOU with Malaysia, which runs an organization in charge of halal certification, to jointly enter this mega market. Yet another significant achievement this time was an agreement to push for a Korea-Malaysia FTA. The smart city project in Kota Kinabalu will be an opportunity for our two countries to take the lead in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in addition to enhancing bilateral cooperation.
Malaysia is considered one of the best countries for getting a sense of Asia. Mosques and Taoist temples exist in harmony, and the colors, tastes, sounds and scents of Asia are gathered together. Kuala Lumpur, a green city, is also impressive. I am very grateful to His Majesty Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the Malaysian people, and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for their warm consideration. Now I am going to Cambodia, a country that holds the smile of Angkor Wat.