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South Korea continues support to Jordan, its ‘oldest friend’ in region, says ambassador 

By JT - Apr 17,2022 - Last updated at Apr 17,2022

Lee Jae-wan

AMMAN — As Jordan and South Korea mark 60 years of relations this year, Seoul pledged continued support and partnership with Amman, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Jordan Lee Jae-wan said.

“Jordan is the oldest friend in the Middle East and we started diplomatic ties in 1962… His Majesty King Abdullah II has already visited Korea five times. Ties between the two countries are deep and cooperation covers many areas and ties will continue to expand to cover more areas,” the Korean ambassador told The Jordan Times in an interview on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

As Jordan starts its second centennial, South Korea will continue to stand by Jordan during its journey that aims to make the Kingdom stronger and more prosperous. 

The Korean government supports Jordan’s efforts and drive to strengthen the political sphere and modernise political life, he added.

Korea has played an important role in supporting Jordan’s development process through grants and soft loans covering various areas including education, management of water resources, e-government and other areas, the ambassador said.

The Korean envoy said his country provided $319 million in grants and soft loans to Jordan from 1990 to 2021. Of the total, $109 million were in grants.

In the field of water network rehabilitation, a project is under way in Faqouh in Karak at a total cost of $9.2 million. The project is scheduled to end by 2024. Another $9.1 million water network project is scheduled to start this year and will be completed by 2026 in Mastaba in Jerash, he said.

Korea is also keen on supporting Jordan and is exploring possible ways supporting the National Water Carrier project, adding that one-third of Korea’s support to Jordan has been allocated to cover the water sector until now.

In vocational training, a project is underway to establish the Zarqa Specialised Industrial High School at a total value of $10.3 million. The school is to be opened in September this year. 

In addition, Korea is providing a $6 million grant to start a vocational training for refugee and vulnerable youth with UNICEF for equitable opportunities, social cohesion and climate resilience this year.

Korea is keen on sharing its development and economic success story with the Kingdom, the diplomat said.

“We want to share our Korean success story in development with Jordan. We are keen to deliver our economic success story with Jordan as we have made it in a short period of time…We want to share with you how to catch a fish,” he added.

Stressing the importance of vocational training to help boost the country’s economy, he said Korea will continue to send experts and share expertise with Jordan.

He referred to the Jordan Korean Technology Institute (JOKOTI), which was established through $8.5 million with Korean assistance. The institute provided training programmes in five specialties and now it covers around 15 workshops and courses and training programmes on skills highly in demand in the labour market. Since the start to date, around 2,500 trainees have completed courses, including Jordanians and refugees.

As part of its support to Jordan, Korea is also committed to continue providing support to Syrian refugees in the country and host communities.

On trade exchange, Korea’s exports to Jordan by end of 2021 reached $669 million, while Jordan’s exports to Korea amounted to $107 million last year.

“Both countries almost recovered trade levels to the pre-COVID period…Jordan exports to Korea exceeded $100 million for the first time,” he said.

“We are keen on exploring possibilities to recover the trade volume as in 2014 with $1.5 billion… there is a need to work harder to look into new areas of cooperation and explore opportunities to tap potential in the fields of cosmetics, AI and biomedicine for example,” he added.

The ambassador said Jordan enjoys political and social stability and is a gateway for countries in the Levant, stressing that Korean businesses people in Jordan are “comfortable”, commending the “high quality of human resources and good weather” in the Kingdom.

Tourism, the ambassador said, is one of the arenas that could see increased potential for growth.

“Jordan has beautiful attractions such as Wadi Rum, Petra, Dana, the Dead Sea, Aqaba and others. There are many beautiful areas for tourists to explore. I have already visited Petra five times, Wadi Rum three times and I hiked the 14- kilometre trail in Dana. I like it very much,” he added.

Before COVID-19, around 30,000 Koreans visited Jordan per year. “We hope this to resume as the situation gets better,” he said.

The ambassador said a series of activities have been lined up to mark the anniversary this year.

 A joint art group exhibition featuring the artworks of 20 Korean artists and 20 Jordanian artists will be held in Ras Al Ain in May.

In July, there will be a joint taekwondo performance featuring Korean and Jordanian teams. In addition, a K-pop group will take part in the Jerash Festival.

In the second half of this year, a joint workshop will be held with the Jordanian government, bringing various stakeholders on the topic of the fourth industrial revolution.

“Jordan is a close friend and partner and the Korean government highly appreciates Jordan’s support for Korea’s efforts to make peace and on de-nuclearisation in the Korean peninsula,” he added.


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