Park Geun Hye Concludes Her Visit to 4 Nation Tour of South America
kpopluv, April 26, 2015, 10:39 a.m.
President Park Geun-hye left for South Korea on Saturday, wrapping up a four-nation tour of South America meant to boost trade and economic cooperation. Park's trip to Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil came as South Korea is pushing to expand economic cooperation with the region hailed by Seoul officials as a continent of opportunities. South Korea has signed a set of memorandums of understanding with the four countries which, among other things, call for closer cooperation in the fields of telemedicine, renewable energy and e-commerce.
In Colombia, Park asked Bogota to quickly ratify a free trade agreement it had signed with South Korea. In Lima, she and her Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala jointly celebrated the rollout of the first basic trainer jet assembled in Peru in cooperation with South Korea's sole aircraft manufacturer, the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. Park and Humala specifically agreed to cooperate in Peru's advanced trainer jet project, boosting South Korean hopes to win the project.
In Chile, Park and her Chilean counterpart, Michelle Bachelet, agreed to upgrade the two countries' bilateral free trade agreement now in force in conformity with the changing global trade environment. In Brazil, she and her Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, agreed to strengthen partnership by diversifying economic cooperation. Officials boasted of noticeable achievements resulted from the trip.
An Chong-bum, the senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said those South American countries voiced hope that South Korean companies will participate in infrastructure projects. The move "considerably raised the possibility that South Korean companies could make inroads into many infrastructure projects," Ah told reporters. He also said South Korea secured a foothold in telemedicine in the South American countries as they suffer from a shortage of doctors, mostly in remote areas.
Telemedicine is designed to improve access to quality care for those in medically deprived areas by using information technology, mostly the Internet. Also Saturday, Park met with hundreds of people in the Korean community in Brazil and gave them a pep talk, an aide said. Those who attended the meeting with Park included Shin Hye-ja, a 74-year-old woman who visited Seoul in 1975 along with other South Koreans living abroad. At that time, Park, as a stand-in first lady after her mother was assassinated by a North Korean agent, met Shin.
Park also attended a fashion show at a hotel that included performances by K-pop stars in an apparent move to encourage people from the Korean community. K-pop stars who performed included the boy band SHINee and f(X). About 70 percent of nearly 50,000 Korean immigrants in Brazil work in the fashion industry. The fashion show drew about 700 people, including representatives of Brazilian fan clubs of "Hallyu," or the Korean wave.South Korean TV shows, films and pop music have gained wide popularity in Brazil and other South American countries in recent years beyond China and Southeast Asian countries. Park's office said there are about 200 K-pop fan clubs in Brazil. According to Seoul government officials, 103 South Koreans arrived in Brazil in 1963 as the first group of Korean immigrants.