In-depth
Marriages, business ties with Vietnam
  • | The Korea Herald | August 31, 2010 02:58 PM

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 18 years ago, Korea‘s ties with Vietnam “have finally developed in all fields.”

Newly arrived Vietnam Ambassador Tran Trong Toan said that Korea is now among the top trading partners and investors in the Southeast Asian nation.

Trade between the two countries increased 20 times from just $500 million in 1992 to over $10 billion last year.

Moreover, Korea is ranked first among 89 foreign investors in Vietnam in terms of direct investment accounting for 2,500 projects with a registered capital value of over $22 billion.

Also, since last year, Korea is the second largest donor country providing Vietnam with official development assistance of $1 billion for four years.

“Besides that, with the presence of more than 90,000 Vietnamese in Korea and the same number of Koreans in Vietnam, social and cultural, education and people-to-people exchanges have been forged,” he told The Korea Herald.

The ties hit a higher level when the two countries’ relationship was upgraded to a Strategic Cooperation Partnership during President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Vietnam last year.

“This reflects the two countries’ strong determination to bring our comprehensive relations to a new height,” he said.

To further these good vibes the ambassador is looking to promote regular exchanges of high-level visits to create a solid political and legal framework.

“I also want to broaden and deepen our economic relations to make it commensurate with our vast potential and strategic cooperation,” Tran said.

The ambassador is focusing in the areas of high-technology and infrastructure development with the objective of increasing two-way trade to $20 billion by 2015.

“We are working with the Korea Importers Association to import more Vietnamese goods especially agricultural products,” he said, and “we are considering the measures to expedite the feasibility study for the early conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement.”

One of Tran’s priorities is to broaden and strengthen people-to-people exchanges, particularly relations among both countries’ economic, cultural and social organizations such as businesses, women’s and youth associations, war veterans, student unions and authorities at the local and grassroots levels.

Vietnam Ambassador Tran Trong Toan

“More attention should be paid to the Vietnamese community in Korea and the Korean community in Vietnam so as to help them integrate themselves into local society while retaining their cultural identities.
Vietnam Ambassador Tran Trong Toan Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald

“Also, I want to ensure the happy and harmonious life for Korean-Vietnamese multicultural families, thus enhancing the bond of friendship between the two peoples,” he said.

Out of the 90,000 Vietnamese living in Korea, roughly 37,500 are married to Korean citizens.

“In general, most Vietnamese people have stable lives in Korea and the conditions are improving,” he said.

Tran is working to build closer cooperation with the Korean authorities and social institutions to provide Vietnamese wives and workers with suitable jobs, health insurance and labor safety.

He also has plans to help integrate Vietnamese brides into local society by teaching them the Korean language, customs, cultures, habits and traditions as language barriers and cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

“I want to take effective measures to prevent violence in multicultural families and avoid any case of discrimination as they will be future citizens of Korea and contribute to the development of Korea,” said Tran.

So far, in Vietnam, brokers for arranged marriages are not recognized by law.

He explained that there are no marriage brokers or matchmaking agencies in Vietnam and the Vietnamese government does not encourage people use matchmaking agencies to find a foreign spouse.

“The position of the Vietnamese government is that every marriage needs to be based on mutual love and understanding of the couple because that is one of the most important grounds for durable happiness,” he said.

To prevent illegal marriage broker activities, the Vietnamese authorities have launched a campaign to crackdown on illegal marriage broker agents and established advisory offices for international marriages in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh as well some provinces.

The project is being run by the Vietnamese Women’s Association and provides basic information related to different aspects of the law and regulations, cultural traditions, customs, habits and ways of everyday life.

The association also assists in providing the proper documentation that certifies the health of couples about to enter into a multicultural marriage.

In response, the Korean authorities are streamlining regulations in this regard, especially the activities of matchmaking companies, and plans on improving the whole situation regarding international marriages.

Vietnam, since 1986, has committed itself to socio-economic reforms and to actively integrate itself into the regional and global economy.

By doing so, Vietnam has moved to open its export-oriented market economy and strives to become an industrialized economy by 2020.

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