Relations: A Strengthened Friendship
Address to the Canada-Korea Society Dinner
by Hon. David
Parliament for Edmonton Southeast and Secretary
of State (Asia-Pacific)
29 May 2002
As the World
Cup of Soccer begins on Friday this week,
it is particularly timely to be speaking
on Korea-Canada relations. Unfortunately,
I cannot predict a great final match between
our two teams since Canada is not represented
this year, but for the record please note
that the last time our teams met the victory
was to Canada. Seriously, I wish the Korean
team great success in its matches against
Poland, Portugal, and the US.
In a word,
the Canada-Korea partnership has never been
more important, deeper and escalating more
briskly as we enter the 40th year of official
diplomatic relations. Institutions like
the Presbyterian Church in Canada first
connected with Koreans more than a century
ago. Various Canadians, including Luther
Young, James Scarth Gale, the Hall family,
and, of course, Dr. Frank Schofield were
central in building the early relationship
between our peoples. Luther Young was the
Presbyterian missionary who worked with
Korean communities in Japan during those
trying years prior to the Second World War.
Frank Schofield played a very courageous
role in the Korean liberation movement.
Other Canadian missionaries played less
dramatic but no less influential roles.
who taught science and maths in those early
days planted important seeds too. They formed
part of the basis for the modern Korean
education system. It, as the world should
know, was a major reason for the astonishingly
rapid emergence of Korea as a modern, industrialized
nation over the past twenty years.
of partnership--and many others like them--provided
the foundation upon which we are still building:
in government, through business endeavours,
academic and educational circles, and spiritual
and cultural connections.
you needs to be reminded that Canada also
went to war for Korea. Canadian veterans
of the Korean War, a conflict remembered
as the bloodiest battle of the cold war,
are rightly receiving deserved attention
recently. Almost 30,000 Canadian soldiers
saw action in the conflict, and over 500
lives were lost. To commemorate this contribution,
new memorials to the Canadian effort have
been built in Canada and Korea. The Korean
government has sponsored an effort to enable
veterans to return to Korea to visit the
memorials and sites. These efforts deepen
and add strength to the partnership between
our nations; indeed, the Korean government
and people have clearly not forgotten the
Canadians who fought to preserve Koreas
and economic ties
long history of interaction between our
two peoples, it has been primarily during
the past twenty years when the partnership
has significantly deepened. Since 1980,
Canadian immigration and trade patterns
have shifted dramatically: Canada began
to receive more immigrants from Asia and
the Korean economy opened up. Simultaneously,
the Korean economy has made a remarkable
emergence as a regional economic powerhouse
based on a high tech manufacturing base.
bring much to their new country: investments,
entrepreneurial skills, new businesses and
employment, values and awareness, and the
energy to build secular and spiritual institutions.
It is also a much noticed fact that at present,
more than ever before, newcomers retain
deep ties with their homeland through family
and cultural associations such as Canada
Korea Society. These ties, aided by communications
and travel, bring peoples together in a
very concrete manner.
between Canada and Korea is bridged in this
manner, and it goes well beyond mere statistics.
Nonetheless, the figures are worth noting.
The Korean community in Canada, now about
150,000 strong, has played an essential
role in strengthening our relationship.
There are many newcomers each year in Canada
from Korea. I was delighted to learn that
the Korean government reports Canada as
the first choice for potential immigrants.
Korea was in fact Canadas 5th greatest
source of immigrants in 2001, a number which
has greatly increased since 1996. Korean
immigrants to Canada are having a major
economic impact on their new country.
of Koreans who immigrate here fall in the
skilled category; among these,
six in ten have backgrounds in the vital
computer and engineering fields. It is worth
highlighting that Korea is the number one
source country for business immigrants to
Canada: this meant over $150 million invested
by them into the Canadian economy in 2001
have brought much more than economic muscle
and skill to Canada: cities and towns are
much richer thanks to the unique cuisine
of the peninsula. Kim-chi and walnut cakes
are hard to beat. Tae Kwon Do, a demonstration
of which many of us were able to view earlier
this week, is also a growing sport in Canada.
In fact, the world championships were held
in my home city of Edmonton in 1999. Korean
Presbyterian congregations in Canada have
been among the most dynamic in the country.
In short, the Korean community is making
a lasting impact on Canadian life.
Tae E Lee
is not limited to one activity or endeavour,
but stretches across the arts, academia,
industry, and commerce. Let me use two prominent
members of the community as examples. I
mentioned a moment ago a performance of
Tae Kwon Do earlier this week. It was a
truly unique event, commemorating 25 years
of Tae Kwon Do instruction in Canada by
Grandmaster Tae E. Lee. In fact, the gala
was part of the Tae E. Lee week in Ottawa,
as deservedly declared by the mayor! Thousands
of children have received instruction from
Mr. Lee over the years. Furthermore, some
of his newest programs are designed for
participants with special needs. A future
goal is to enter Tae Kwon Do into the Special
example comes from the second generation
in the community. Pianist Lucille Chung
of Montreal is not yet thirty, but is already
an accomplished and globally recognized
concert pianist. Her début came at
the age of ten with the Montréal
Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she has
won many competitions and played with orchestras
around the world, including the Seoul Philharmonic.
Recently, she won the prestigious Canada
Arts Council Virginia Parker Prize.
Our two countries
have much to learn from each other. Korean
university students have demonstrated a
keen interest in studying at Canadian schools
and universities. According to The Korea
Herald, 15% of all Korean students studying
internationally are now doing so in Canada.
These students, studying primarily in BC
and Ontario, are important for a number
of reasons. In simple economic terms, foreign
students contribute an estimated $4 billion
to the Canadian economy every year. Of this
Korean students contribute $500 million
per year. The Universities of British Columbia
and Toronto both have established programs
at Sister Institutions in Korea
to sponsor exchange and knowledge transfer.
are also leaving their mark on the Korean
educational system. Up to 2000 Canadians
leave for Korea each year to teach English.
This experience can often result in a long-term
relationship with all things
Korean. There are also several Canadian
studies programs at Korean universities.
This goodwill, although hard to quantify,
often returns a dividend well into the future.
Certainly, it is a powerful force in the
relations between nations.
of the two economies and cultures is not
purely academic and educational.
Our economies have grown much more intimate,
especially in the last twenty years.
ties are not the results of efforts by one
government, business, or organisation. Our
two nations share many commonalities despite
several obvious, but superficial differences
in language, culture, and history. Both
nations have a common economic connection
to the US, but also a desire to expand trading
into Latin America and other parts of Asia.
Both nations have mid-sized economies, educated
populations, and are fully integrated into
the main trading organisations, including
APEC and the WTO.
the main products of our two economies are
not generally close competitors, and we
can be considered natural trading
partners. Aided by a Special
Partnership signed in 1993 which reviews
issues related to bilateral trade, Korea
has become Canadas eighth largest
Asian Flu of 1997, Koreas economy
has re-bounded exceptionally with some assistance
from the international community and the
IMF, including over $1B from Canadians.
During the IMF Years, Koreans
demonstrated an impressive resilience, leading
the recovery in the group of Asian newly
industrialized countries-- the Tigers.
This was tested again in 2001 after the
attacks of September 11th. Policy-makers
feared that an unavoidable global recession
would be particularly traumatic. However,
despite some decline in trade flows last
year for both our nations, recovery has
been surprisingly swift, and gross trade
flows are expected to grow into the future.
As natural trading partners, this means
a continuation of Korea sending Canada a
wealth of consumer goods and receiving in
return our natural resources and industrial
But the nature
of trade flows develops as relationships
mature and economies diversify. Canadas
own economy is remarkably different from
that of twenty years ago. Canada now has
a diversified, advanced economy with a truly
Let me illustrate
the importance of Canada- Korea trade relationship
in the context of this new economic reality:
Canadian firms were the second greatest
source of foreign direct investment in Korea
in 2001. Over $2.4 billion was invested
by Canadian firms last year. This is helping
to build high-tech, tourism, and natural
resources industries in Korea.
of this is a new Canadian-Korean partnership
called TELSK, operating in the telecoms
field. This firm, a help desk for its parent
the SK Group and the only one of its kind
in Korea, employs 425 people and fields
around 500,000 calls per year. Tigerdev
Inc., a resort developer active elsewhere
in Asia, has recently announced its intention
to invest $100 million to build a new ski
resort in Korea. Other Canadian companies
such as Abitibi Consolidated and Alcan have
had major investments in Korea for several
Korea Society was very supportive of measures
in the late 1990's - the "IMF Years"-
to promote Korea's economic recovery, which
included opening up the Korean economy to
outside investors. One extremely interesting
example of this was a new joint venture
involving Abitibi Consolidated, Norske Skog
of Norway and Hansol Paper of Korea to create
the largest newsprint operation in the Asia
Pacific region. This was explained by a
senior executive of Abitibi in March, 1999,
to a meeting of the Society, which gave
it strong support. The Society has been
promoting better understanding, cooperation
and friendship between Canada and Korea
for last 18 years since it's establishment.
the Special Partnership and past successes
do not assure that Canadian business can
easily continue to expand our trade flows.
Several barriers to completely free trade
remain, but happily these problems are being
addressed in a variety of ways. There is
the issue of proximity to markets, but the
shift away from old economy exports, for
example natural resources, to more transportable
new economy commodities like
services reduces this impact. Both countries
continue to maintain certain barriers to
trade in the form of duties and quotas.
These are being addressed through an ongoing
diplomatic dialogue. Lastly, some cultural
and language barriers cannot be ignored
entirely. This audience itself is a testament
to lowering such barriers through cooperation
will bring the 40th anniversary of diplomatic
relations between Canada and Korea. This
is big. The embassies and Foreign Ministries
have already begun to plan use this date
to underscore the importance of the partnership.
these diplomatic relations are more than
just a means to increase trade and share
culture. There is one diplomatic issue which
must be raised in such a discussion: The
tension in the peninsula and the security
threat due to Koreas proximity and
historical connections with North Korea.
Canada continues to support the Sunshine
Policy and progress towards stability
in the peninsula. Canada remains a staunch
supporter of Korea, and normalisation of
relations with North Korea.
Korea Society is well positioned to deepen
the already excellent understanding between
our two peoples, especially on the cultural
front. There are many things this association
has done and can do in the future. The relationship
receives new attention from events such
as the Korea-Canada friendship week planned
for later this year. The Terry Fox Run,
an event run across Canada for many years,
takes place yearly now in Seoul. Last year
it raised over $25,000 for cancer research
in Korea. In Canada, local cultural associations
and the Canada Korea Society have been working
on building friendship and understanding
for close to 20 years.
One of the
most basic means for building cultural awareness
is short-term travel. Tourism is a fast
growing industry between Canada and Korea.
It is also a good benchmark for judging
interest in each other and interaction between
countries. In fact, over fifty thousand
Canadians visited Korea in 2001. Korea became
the fastest growing destination for Canadian
tourists in all of Asia. Meanwhile, over
150,000 Koreans came to Canada for short
stays last year.
Over the coming months, Korea will take
a prominent position on the world stage.
Soccer will dominate the domestic landscape
in Koreaand perhaps everywhere else--
for the next month. Korea is about to become,
along with co-host Japan, the first nation
to host a World Cup in Asia. We Canadians
do understand the boisterous and exuberant
Korean sense of sport nationalism. The World
Cup will be a chance for the country to
put its enormous people and other assets
and unique culture on display for the world.
a unique relationship with Korea. Koreans
and Korea have already made a large impact
on this country. The future for political,
economic, and cultural ties looks very bright
indeed. As one final example take the case
of foreign students. I hope we can continue
to see the number of Korean students soar
in our country. The number has almost doubled
in the last three years, growing from to
8,500 in 1998 to over 15,000 in 2001.
let me thank your president, John Harrington.
I understand that he is retiring from the
post this year, and so I would like to thank
him on behalf of the government of Canada
for his extraordinary efforts over the last
nine years in the role.