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Roh's NZ Visit To Strenghen Bilateral Ties

Roh's New Zealand Visit To Strenghen Bilateral Ties

By Lee Joon-gyu - Korean Ambassador to New Zealand

When we think of New Zealand, the first thing that comes to our minds is usually its clean and beautiful nature often described as “heavenly.” Many foreign students also head to the nation to learn English. But these facts are not enough to explain what New Zealand is.

New Zealand is the home of two famous movie beasts -- the most-recent King Kong and Korea's lotus-mouthed monster from "The Host." These were both created at Weta Studio with the help of computer graphic technology. New Zealand has world-class, large-scale computer graphic technology which rely on miniatures and scanning.

The island nation has a population of four million. People usually think it is very close to Australia, but, in fact, it takes about three hours by plane from Sydney to Auckland. As the country is even further down under in the southern hemisphere, it has a relatively hard time tapping into international trade and the exchange of human resources.

However, the nation has overcome such obstacles with a spirit for challenge and a strong sense of confidence. It developed a special cold storage technology that helped the nation export meat and dairy food products to Europe in the 1950s. It also conducted economic reforms in the 1980s and upgraded agricultural and livestock industries by lowering distribution costs.

In the early 1950s, a New Zealand farmer named Bill Hamilton invented the world's first jet boat. Based on its advanced boat-making technology, New Zealand has also set records in international yachting contests, including the America's Cup.

Recently, New Zealand has been concentrating on strengthening high value-added industries like movies. This country is home of the famous filmmaker Peter Jackson, the director of the movie “Lords of the Ring” based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy.

New Zealand has been one of Korea's allies since 1948 when Korea formed a provisional government three years after its liberation from Japanese colonization. New Zealand also sent more than six thousand soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War even though it had no more than 10,000 soldiers at the time. More than 50 years have passed so far and living New Zealand Korean War veterans still take pride in their close ties to the peninsula.

With New Zealanders' interest in Korea growing due to the nation's recent policy focusing more on Asia, Korea has emerged as an important trading partner. The Korea-New Zealand FTA is one of the agendas the country hopes to discuss.

Though New Zealand's total annual trade volume is less than US$2 billion -- in comparison to Korea's $600 billion -- there are many reasons Korea needs to cherish the bilateral ties: New Zealand's international status in terms of human rights and the environment and its help during the Korean War. In an economic perspective, the countries can establish win-win partnerships in agricultural, livestock, information technology and film industries through bilateral cooperation.

President Roh Moo-hyun's state visit to New Zealand is expected to enhance bilateral ties far beyond his talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark during his visit from Thursday (Dec. 7) to Sunday.

The two countries will find ways to increase the exchange of human resources, including meetings between high-ranking officials, and sign cooperation pacts between the two governments and research institutions to boost cooperative partnerships in the fields of agriculture, science, IT and movie production.

With nearly 100,000 people visiting the country every year and 30,000 Koreans, including students and businesspeople, already living there, New Zealand is no longer a distant country. It can offer unlimited opportunities to Korea. President Roh's New Zealand tour heralds a new direction for strengthened bilateral relations.

ENDS

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