Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Jung Hong-won said that he was deeply impressed by the outstanding leadership and vision of political leaders such as President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne.
"I have full confidence that Sri Lanka will have a bright future with such prominent leadership and diligent people," he told the Daily News in an exclusive interview. (Please turn to page 6 for full text of interview.)
The Korean PM added that Sri Lanka and Korea could cooperate in various fields. The former judge turned politician took the opportunity to elaborate on a range of issues of interest including the prospects for increased Korea-Sri Lanka cooperation.
The South Korean PM said he found Sri Lanka to be unbelievably peaceful, yet dynamic -- a land where a lush and beautiful environment abounds. Sri Lankans equally are possessed of kind heart and mind, he said.
"I am happy to hear that the country's economy is rapidly growing and of the visits of more than one million tourists. Furthermore, I am happy to note that Sri Lankans have much interest in the Korean culture and language. Sri Lankans equally possessed a kind heart and an open mind. I am happy to hear that the country's economy is rapidly growing - for example, Sri Lanka reached per capita GDP of $3,000 and has received over one million tourists."
"I was deeply impressed by the outstanding leadership and vision of political leaders such as President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne," he said.
"I have full confidence that Sri Lanka will have a bright future with such prominent leadership and diligent people.
Making reference to the development cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka,Premier Won said as Sri Lanka remains an important partner in development cooperation, South Korea would willingly share her experience and know-how with Sri Lanka and her people.
"We particularly put emphasis on the areas of economic infrastructure, education, and human resource development and have contributed to the construction of water supply facilities and roads, which are essential to the welfare of provincial residents," the PM said.
"We will continue to contribute to Sri Lanka's social and economic development through selections of customized ODA projects," he said. In his brief but thought provoking interview, South Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won also said he was highly appreciative of Sri Lanka's stance concerning North Korea's recent actions .
"I am very appreciative that Sri Lanka denounced North Korea's provocative actions in the last few years.
"The North Korean nuclear issue is not only of concern to the two Koreas, but, also poses a grave threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Given that the international community's coherent and united stance is necessary for the resolution of North Korea's nuclear issue. We will closely cooperate with Sri Lanka and the international community in this regard.
While appreciating the highly significant and diligent contribution made by Sri Lankan workers to the Korean economy, the Prime Minister also spoke of expanding cultural exchanges between the two countries.
He said he was glad to note the popularity of the Korean Wave in Sri Lanka. Korean dramas such "Sujatha Diyani"and "Dongee"enjoyed record-breaking popularity and Korean singer, Psy's "Gangnam Style" song has become a massive hit.
I heard that 'the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendly Concert' was staged with great success last April.
I expect that such cultural exchanges can form a cultural bond between the peoples of the two countries and will contribute to promoting friendly ties.
"Above all, for the development of long-lasting bilateral relations, the importance of cultural exchanges based on mutual understanding of our two peoples are vital.
As the cultural exchanges between the two countries are bound to grow in the future, we will further promote exchange programs in the fields of culture, academia, sports and at governmental level.
In addition, we will continue to spread the Korean language through the King Sejong Institute," the Korean Prime Minister said.