Phong congratulated the ambassador on his successful working tenure in Vietnam and recognised his active efforts to enhance cooperative relations between Vietnamese and Korean ministries, departments and localities over the past two years, helping further deepen the Vietnam-RoK strategic cooperative partnership.
The ambassador also supported activities of the VUFO and the Vietnam-RoK Friendship Association in general as well as people-to-people exchanges in particular, Phong said, adding that Lee Hyuk had visited many places and met with a lot of people in Vietnam to gain deep understanding about the Southeast Asian country.
Phong expressed his hope that the ambassador, in any position, will make more contributions to reinforcing and developing the friendly cooperative relations between Vietnam and the RoK.
Lee Hyuk said he is honoured to receive the medal, noting that during his working tenure in Vietnam, he had witnessed the strong development of Vietnam-RoK economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. In particular, he had the chance to accompany President Moon Jae-in and his spouse on a three-day State visit to Vietnam in March this year.
He added that he will take up a new position as Secretary General of the RoK-ASEAN Centre from April 15, and pledged to do his utmost to step up the relations between the RoK and ASEAN, and particularly between the RoK and Vietnam.
Vietnam and the RoK established diplomatic ties on December 22, 1992. The two countries set up their comprehensive strategic partnership in August 2001, and agreed to lift the ties to a strategic cooperative partnership in October 2009.
The Vietnam-RoK free trade agreement, which became effective on December 20, 2015, has opened a new chapter in bilateral economic ties. The RoK is currently one of Vietnam’s most important economic partners, ranking first in terms of investment, and second in development cooperation, trade and tourism.
Two-way trade jumped from 500 million USD in 1992 to 61.5 billion USD in 2017, of which 14.8 billion USD came from Vietnam’s exports, up 30 percent from the previous year, and 46.7 billion USD from the Southeast Asian country’s imports, a year-on-year increase of 45.3 percent.
The two countries are working to raise the turnover to 100 billion USD by 2020.