Less Argumentative Korean – Ruminations from the Korea trip – Part II

I hope my first blog on our Korea trip provided relevant information to you readers. This is of course assuming that some of you took time to open the link and browse through the post (Lol!). Never mind, as a writer my job is to disseminate as much information as possible to you readers. This post is in continuation of my efforts towards spreading my own experiential learning both as a student and as a videographer. The first blog focused on our initial days in Korea, understanding the Korean flag and other topics.

This blog mainly focuses on the EPGP class interaction with the Indian ambassador to Korea, His Excellency Vishnu Prakash and his view points on where the relationship between India and Korea is headed. Below are excerpts from our discussion with the ambassador.

EPGP-IV students with the Indian Ambassador Vishnu Prakash

EPGP-IV students with the Indian Ambassador Vishnu Prakash

 

  • Secret of Korea’s success revealed

Korea’s emphasis on discipline, its expenditure on R&D, broad based rural development and last but not the least its emphasis on education are secrets of Korea’s success according to the ambassador. One of the key drivers of Korean success  is its discipline. Although no two countries are similar and not everything can be replicated from one country to another, there are certainly some learnings that a country can take note of and try and emulate back home. Korea’s repeated emphasis on R&D year after year, its expenditure of close to 3.7% of the GDP on R&D and its emphasis on comprehensive, broad based rural development are some of the points India can try to take back home. It is fascinating to see how the “Saemaul Undong” movement in the 1970’s played out in Rural Korea. The movement essentially means ‘Rural reconstruction by self-help with some assistance from the government’.

  • Indian mangoes to Korea!

Korea’s dependency on agriculture is decreasing year on year as depicted in the charts below.

Korea's dependency on Agriculture

Korea’s dependency on Agriculture

India has a great opportunity here to export some of its best produces from the agriculture sector. In fact as briefed by the ambassador, Korea is keen on opening its markets for Indian agriculture produce. Mangoes, Brinjals, Okra are few of the products India is looking to export to Korea. India is the largest producer of some of the best mangoes in the world. We export to countries as far and wide as the US, Europe and Japan. The Korean consumer is perhaps one of few remaining consumers who is yet to taste the famed Indian mangoes.

On the pharmaceuticals front, India is exploring opportunities to fulfil Korea’s requirements of bulk drugs and certain chemicals. India is among a  few select countries in the world to obtain largest number of license approvals from the US FDA. Being a member of the OECD nations, Korea has some of the stringent measures for pharmaceutical companies.

  • India’s cultural exports to Korea

Indian ambassador re-iterated the importance of increasing the cultural interaction between the two countries. Not that this is not taking place already – as shown by the success of 3 idiots in Korea – but to continue the cultural co-operation with Korea that goes back to millennia, more needs to be done.

3 Idiots in Korea

3 Idiots in Korea

There is tremendous interest in Korea about Buddhism with 25% of the population embracing Buddhism that finds its origin in India. Indian Yoga, Indian performing arts and of course Indian film industry are some of the soft cultural aspects that India is exporting to Korea. As recently as in June of 2012, India concluded a one year festival of India in Korea and similarly one  year festival of Korea in India was concluded. Recognizing these robust cultural exchange interests and tapping them for growing the relationships between the two countries becomes imperative. Educational exchange between the two countries is also growing. As much as 25% of the household spend is on education and a majority of it goes towards external education which includes learning English. The second language they want to learn is either Cantonese or Mandarin and the third language is Hindi. Presently 2500 Korean kids, many of them located in the western educational hub of Pune are studying in India. Korea has recognized our skill in English language and mathematics. Close to 300 million people in India speak English and Korea is tapping into this pool to teach its citizens about the English language. Close to 900 Indian scholars are studying in Korea in the field of science and atomic research. In fact, one of my friends is pursuing her PhD from KAIST in the field of atomic research. Tourism is yet another field in which  the two countries heavily co-operate. In 2010, more than 100,000 Korean nationals visited India. Korea has become the 15th largest source or country of origin for India from a tourism perspective and its only showing a growing trend. In the month of August, the Indian ambassador invited 60 travel agents at his residence to promote tourism. The visa simplification agreement signed by two countries in the month of March is the right step towards easier travel between the two countries leading to increased interactions between citizens of the two countries.

To summarize ,education and tourism are helping increase interaction and trade between Korea and India strengthening already strong bonds that go way back – bonds that were formed many centuries ago and continue to grow despite all the distractions that exist in today’s world. As implored by the ambassador, Korea and India complement each other well and all of us can do our bit in taking this relationship to a higher level.

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