Relations between Cambodia and Korea: 25 years of harmonious relations, and after?

The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea first established diplomatic relations in 1970. When the Khmer Rouge took over, diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea were severed. On October 30, 1997, diplomatic relations between the two nations resumed. Since the two countries have helped and supported each other over the past two decades, there have been many positive outcomes and pleasant memories between the two countries.

Korea and Cambodia had the chance to hold four bilateral summits on the sidelines of the ASEAN+3 Summit after Cambodia joined ASEAN in 1999. The formalization of relations between Korea and ASEAN members has increased communication and collaboration between the two nations. Korea and Cambodia continue to work closely together on a bilateral basis and strive to work closely together at the international level, such as within the UN.

When discussing the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Korea, it is important to remember that Samdech Hun Sen, who was Cambodia’s second prime minister at the time, was the main promoter of the initiative.

It should be recalled that after the country’s first general elections in 1993, Samdech Hun Sen served as the country’s second prime minister from 1993 to 1998, succeeding Prince Norodom Ranaridh. Samdech Hun Sen has worked tirelessly to restore diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Korea.

Korea and Cambodia have supported each other in bilateral relations and ASEAN affiliation since the resumption of relations. Currently, a large number of Cambodians live and work in Korea, as well as a large number of Korean nationals who travel to invest in Cambodia.

Are there areas that need improvement to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries, despite the fact that there are many excellent aspects to their relationship?

Even though the relationship between the two nations has many positive aspects, there are still areas where cooperation between the two nations is needed to move the relationship forward.

By ensuring that business regulations are effectively enforced and foreign investors’ benefits are fully protected, Cambodia should establish the friendliest possible environment for Korean citizens and other foreign citizens who come to live and invest here in Cambodia. in order to develop good relations with countries. It should be remembered that Korean businessmen sometimes travel to Cambodia before other international tourists. Because of what happened in 1997, some Korean businessmen were reluctant to revisit Cambodia.

For Cambodia to attract foreign investment and trade, political stability is crucial. It is important to have the right mechanisms in place to deal with conflicts involving foreign investors in order to maintain social equity and maintain peace. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s win-win strategy should be widely implemented.

There should be a distinction made in the Kingdom of Cambodia between those who should be advisers to the Prime Minister and those who should be in business. It would be difficult for Cambodia to distinguish between the two terms since advisers to the Prime Minister and businessmen will make separate proposals to national leaders.

Because everyone is predisposed to put their own interests first, some advisers would never advise the prime minister to take actions that would hurt their businesses. Instead, they would give his advice on how to improve it.

Building trust with all international investors is crucial for Cambodia at this stage if it hopes to get them to invest there. What can Cambodia do to attract people? There are many things to consider, including the application of business regulations, the administrative setup for foreign businessmen who wish to invest in the country. One of the main obstacles that foreign investors will consider before coming to invest in Cambodia is corruption. Cambodian authorities would issue a statement to reject corruption, but businessmen will consider this case. The accusation and the rejection will take place when we talk about corruption but the thing is there to consider for foreign investors.

As far as the Korean side is concerned, it is important to recognize and express gratitude for the generosity of the Korean government and its people towards Cambodian citizens. Korea offered scholarships to Cambodian students so they could continue their education, and it also gave jobs to Cambodian workers so they could earn money to send home to support their families. Since their children can support their families with the money they earn from working in Korea, many rural Cambodian families are quite proud of their offspring.

All flights were halted during the Covid-19 outbreak, although those from Korea to Cambodia continued. This illustrates the wonderful relationships and mutual trust. The Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement is another blessing for Cambodia and Cambodia should strengthen its production capacity to derive more benefits from the agreement.

The Cambodia-Korea Friendship Bridge is another project that exemplifies cooperation. KOICA and EDCF have created many loan and aid initiatives in Cambodia.

Korean TV shows, Korean music, Korean cuisine and Korean products are popular with Cambodians, especially the younger generation. There are several things Korea should do more of, however, to improve its strong relationship with Cambodia. More Korean scholars and students should be sent to Cambodia by the Korean government as they will forge strong ties that go beyond trade. To encourage the two nations to visit and get to know each other, a specific program on Korea and Cambodia should be part of some university courses. Additionally, Korea needs to invest in a number of key industries, including green energy, IT infrastructure and others.

Overall, Korea has done a lot for relations with Cambodia by supporting both infrastructure and human resource development in Cambodia. As a good friend, Cambodia needs to build capacity to be an equal partner with Korea, and Cambodia cannot always rely on Korea’s help and needs to support and cooperate with Korea. The requirement for additional economic diversification. This means that during the rivalry between the United States and China, some said that Cambodia’s economic dependence on China was excessive. The Cambodian government must therefore diversify its economic counterpart in order to reduce risks. Cambodia must expand its markets for the sale of its goods and must not depend solely on one country.

Dr. Seun Sam is a policy analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia. All opinions expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Khmer Times.

  • Key words: Cambodia-South Korea relations, South Korea