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Korean nationals, military attaches, diplomatic personnel and key figures across the region celebrated South Korea’s National Foundation Day last week at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel.
The evening, organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, celebrated ‘Gaecheonjeol,’ a national South Korean holiday celebrating the formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 BC and regarded as the date for the founding of the Korean people.
The Korean Ambassador to Bahrain, Koo Hyunmo, added: “This is a day that has deep cultural significance for the Korean people, much like the Dilmun civilisation does here. Furthermore, we also wanted to celebrate 43 years of diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Korea.”
Korea’s inaugural flight to the Middle East in 1976 was from Seoul to Manama and Korean workers participated in the construction of infrastructure and landmark buildings, including the offices of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities as well as the Diplomat Hotel.
At one time, more than 3,000 Korean nationals lived in Bahrain. However, 1998’s Asian financial crisis forced the Korean government to close the embassy in Manama, reopening it 12 years later in 2011. Today, 200 Korean nationals live in Bahrain, but bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing dramatically, reaching USD800 million in 2018, with double digit growth.
Koo noted that while current Bahraini exports to South Korea were mainly naphtha and aluminum and Korean exports to Bahrain were primarily cars, cables and steel, “Technology and healthcare are two more industries where we want to expand our footprint in Bahrain. In the long-term, we are exploring the idea of opening a Korean Hospital in the country.”