S.Korea Consul General in Shanghai sees warmer relationship with China

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/8 18:58:40

Rainbow after the storm

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games kicks off in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday. This is the first time for the country to host the Winter Olympics since the Seoul Olympic Games of 1988. Running through February 25, the event welcomes delegations from more than 100 countries and regions.

Earlier in January, Park Sun-won became the Consul General of South Korea in Shanghai. The Global Times recently conducted an email interview with Park about the Winter Olympics, THAAD, bilateral relations and the consulate's future activities under its jurisdiction in East China.

Born in 1963, Park is married with two children. He obtained his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Yonsei University of South Korea in 1992 and a master's degree in International Studies from the same school in 1995. Five years later, he graduated with a PhD in International Politics from University of Warwick in the UK.

Park started his professional career as a foreign research fellow with the Institute of Oriental Culture of University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1999 and then the following year became a research professor at Yonsei University.

In 2003, he became secretary of the National Security Council Secretariat in the Office of the President. In 2006, he was appointed secretary to the President for Unification and Foreign Policy.

In April of 2017, Park served as deputy director of the security issue consultancy group during the presidential election campaign. One of the close advisers to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Park is now regarded as a rising political star in South Korea.

Striving to improve

"My Chinese name is Piao ­Shanyuan. Shan means both kind and friendly," Park explained to the Global Times. "I very much hope that I could make contributions to the friendship between our two countries."

"We wish that Chinese Olympic delegations will achieve good results," Park said, mentioning that Chinese athletes have joined 12 of the 15 major events during the Games.

As far as the issue of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system installation is concerned, Park acknowledged that the bilateral relationship between China and South Korea encountered some setbacks due to the deployment of the system.

"Rainbow comes after a storm," he quoted from a Chinese adage. "Disputes happen even among old friends. The important thing is how we face these problems. I think our two countries will take this opportunity to increase mutual understanding and respect each other."

Park said that the leaders of both countries are making great efforts to resume their sound relationship. As the Consul General of South Korea in Shanghai, he will also make more effort to better understand China's positions, explore the concerns of the Chinese government and its people and study its progress, culture and thoughts.

He told the Global Times that both parties can also strive for improvement in several fields including people-to-people exchanges, free trade agreement (FTA), infrastructure and high tech.

"Resuming and expanding people-to-people exchanges should be a top priority," he said, adding that two years ago South Korea welcomed as many as 8 million trips by the Chinese while China received over 4 million trips by South Koreans. However, those numbers dropped dramatically to just 4 million and 2 million respectively in 2017 following the THAAD issue.

"This year, our two governments need to enhance interaction, especially in East China. We will encourage more Chinese tourists to South Korea in different ways such as individual travel and group travel."

Infrastructure investment

Park is looking forward to talks during the second phase of FTA, which will probably start in March.

"The FTA signed by China and South Korea in 2015 mainly focuses on facilitation measures in commodity trade, while the second phase will involve service and investment fields, which will expand the FTA from commodity to service, investment and people-to-people exchanges and bring new opportunities for cooperation and exchanges," Park said.

Park also wants to increase cooperation on global infrastructure investment. He explained that South Korea, already one of the founding members of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), has decided to link South Korea's foreign and diplomatic policies with China's Belt and Road initiative.

"I very much hope that our goods can be transported to all parts of China and its neighboring countries and regions through North Korea if the rail from South Korea to North Korea opens some day in the future," he said, adding that he hopes China will provide support.

He stressed that the two countries should foster cooperation and exchanges in high-technological fields including big data and artificial intelligence. "As long as we two countries are complementary to each other in many fields, deepening cooperation and exchanges will bring about a win-win situation," he noted.

Culture and exchanges

The Consulate General of South Korea in Shanghai has been making efforts to publicize information about the Winter Olympics, South Korean culture and its food with local Chinese. Park hopes more Chinese will focus on this world event.

He also looks forward to further cultural exchanges between both countries. "China is one of the birthplaces of world civilizations. Chinese culture is extensive and profound that it can absorb and contain different cultures and make its own unique explanations," he said.

"China is a great country, so I hope that more South Korean people in cultural field will visit China for exchanges and cooperation so as to share new experiences between the Chinese and South Korean public."

Park also mentioned that, this year, the Consulate General will continue to hold some activities to promote cultural exchanges and mutual understanding.

For instance, the fifth annual Korean language speech competition targeting Chinese students will take place at a local school in Shanghai held by Korean Cultural Center in May.

An academic forum aiming to promote the bilateral relationship will gather experts and scholars on South Korea study for talks in May. A South Korean cultural and tourism festival will also be held in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province in October to exhibit the food and goods from South Korea with cultural performance and other activities.

Park Sun-won Photo: Courtesy of KTO Shanghai Office


Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Photo: Courtesy of KTO Shanghai Office


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