Senior foreign ministry diplomat and public diplomacy expert Chang Jae-bok will take over as the next South Korean ambassador to India. Chang is expected to assume office on July 21 amid growing interests among South Korean companies to invest in India.
Sources said that several companies have already firmed up plans, notwithstanding the Covid 19 pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic has showcased India as the next investment destination, Shin Bongkil, who served as Ambassador of Korea in India until July 1 said, just before leaving.
“At a time when India and South Korean engagements are rising, the new ambassador will play a very critical role,” an insider said.
“In a clear indication that India is an important ally of South Korea in the 21st century, the latter has decided to dispatch its senior foreign ministry diplomat and public diplomacy expert Chang Jae-bok as ambassador to India,” Asian Community News – a platform that works closely with the East Asian communities in India said.
While the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CEPA), between the two countries has been in place since 2010, trade touched $21.5 billion only in 2018 — crossing the $20 billion mark for the first time.
According to the Indian Embassy data, trade between the two countries in the January -December 2020 period stood at $16.9 billion. Besides, in 2018, Korea’s investment to India crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time, touching $1.053 billion.
Last month, Seoul Semiconductor announced its keenness to set up a research & development (R&D) facility in Haryana. The company will expand its existing operations to cater to the needs of the Indian market and customers and later set up a manufacturing unit in the state. South Korean majors including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai, LG Electronics, Doosan Heavy Industries are among those that are already operating in India.
SD BioSensor, a Korean bio-diagnostic company, which supplied almost 70 per cent of India’s rapid test-kits demand to fight the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the country also has a manufacturing unit in Haryana.
However, India would also require to upgrade the essential infrastructures to avoid any disruptions caused by any crisis. There are about 750 Korean companies operating in India while the number is about 7000 in Vietnam.
“Ease of doing business is one area that has improved but needs to be improved further if India wants investments to pour in,” Nirupama Soundararajan, Senior Fellow and Head of Research of Pahle India Foundation told India Narrative.
In March, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook’s visit to India in March was also a clear reflection of the rapidly growing defense and security ties between the two Asian economies.
India-South Korea ties have been deepening in the last few years — not just in the field of defence, security and trade but also culturally.
Shin introduced the Korean language as part of the school curriculum too. Korean food, culture, music and drama have also become a craze in India.