|Paraguayan Ambassador to Korea Raul Silvero, third from left in the front row, poses with members of Paraguayan community here during a celebration for Friendship Day, July 31. / Courtesy of Embassy of Paraguay|
By Raul Silvero
In this special moment of the year 2020, in which all the countries are facing the difficult circumstance of fighting against the spread of COVID-19, and the experience of the Republic of Korea in facing this disease in its territory, is one of the emblematic examples in the international community, It would be positive to mention one of the most important principles in the relationship among people and nations, which is Friendship, one of the most relevant human feelings in the search for development, well-being and peace in the world./
The Republic of Korea and the Republic of Paraguay have a long history of friendship relations.
Paraguay has shown its sincere and deep friendship to the Korean people, being by their side during difficult moments of history, such as the inter-Korean war, with medicines and financial cooperation, as a gesture that values the principles of peace and friendship, in order to have a better and fairer world. Likewise, Paraguay, located in the heart of South America, was one of the first Latin American countries to receive groups of Korean immigrants into the country.
Friendship's Day or Friend's Day is a very important date for many countries, including Paraguay. On May 3, 2011, thanks to the Paraguay's proposal and supported by many other countries, the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 65/275 decides to designate July 30 as International Day of Friendship.
In that occasion the Paraguayan representative stated that "we wish to make a further declaration in support of peace and a decisive contribution to the noble aim of the United Nations and its Members by achieving broad and deep understanding among the various cultures. More than 50 years ago (1958), in a small town in Paraguay called Puerto Pinasco, situated far from the capital, a group of residents, headed by Dr. Artemio Bracho, developed the idea of celebrating a day devoted to friendship and decided to make 30 July that day. /
|A poster of Paraguayan culture|
Our world faces many challenges, crises and divisive forces poverty, violence, human rights violations that threaten peace, security, development and social harmony among the peoples of the world and within themselves. To tackle these problems, it is necessary to tackle the causes that provoke them, fostering and defending solidarity, which can manifest itself in many ways, such as friendship."
During this COVID-19 outbreak and spreading, the entire world is facing many challenges in the health system, the economic recovery and many other issues that need to be tackled in a cooperative scheme in the international community. Indeed, through friendship, cultivating the bonds of camaraderie and strengthening trust, we can contribute to the fundamental and necessary changes to achieve lasting stability, weave a social support network that protects us all and generate passion for a better world, all united for the common good.
The relationship between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Paraguay is an example of this strong and lasting friendship. Although both countries are geographically distant and historically different, Paraguay and Korea share various commonalities. Solidarity has been a strong element in our relationship. In 1965, Paraguay opened its doors to thousands of Korean immigrants, who, in search of a new beginning, left from the Port of Busan towards the Land without Evil, Paraguay.
The Koreans departed on Feb. 27 of the same year from the port of Busan, Korea, on a Dutch ship called "Boissevain." The first Koreans when arriving in Paraguay had many difficulties due to the cultural and language differences, but they managed to overcome them with diligence and responsibility until they became consolidated in Paraguayan society. In addition, this year, 55 years since the arrival of the first group of Korean migrants to Paraguay, the Korean community, composed of approximately six thousand people, is an active part of Paraguayan society. As a tribute to that fact, every April 22, we commemorate the Day of Korea in my country.
In Paraguay, more than 6,000 Koreans live and are active in our society, and many of these families are made up of Paraguayan-Korean couples, who enrich and develop our country. The Korean school started in 1972, with some teachers who decided to teach the Korean language as well as culture and history to the children of immigrants. The Education and Culture Center that administers the Korean school offers scholarships collected by Korean residents each year to low-income Paraguayan students.
In this way, almost 50 years ago, it Korean schools were established, not only for Korean origin persons, but to Paraguayan as well. K-Pop, K-drama, halyu have strong followers in Paraguay, where you can taste, as well, not only kimchi (made in Paraguay), but also many dishes of Korean cuisine, such as bibimbab, and other delicious food in many Korean restaurants. It is good to mention, also, that in Korea, many Paraguayans are residing, including students, workers, people married to Koreans, and others. Although the history of the Korean diaspora in Latin America is traced from the beginning of the 20th century, it was not until the 1990s when its presence in several countries in Central and South America became more evident.
Currently, the Korean community in Paraguay is made up of around 6,000 people residing in the cities of Asuncion (capital city), Ciudad del Este, Encarnacion and Pedro Juan Caballero.
Its members are dedicated to primary production, manufacturing, trade and the provision of services. In the area of primary activities, among other items, Korean farmers satisfy 30 percent of the egg consumption market in Paraguay. In the manufacturing sector, clothing, towels, school supplies, food and non-alcoholic beverages stand out; also in the manufacture of plastics and in the paper industry (napkins, toilet paper). Likewise, they are the owners of pantries, bazaars and shops; various items explode: household appliances, footwear and clothing, to name a few. In addition, Korean professionals excel in the fields of medicine, law, journalism, and university teaching.
In 1992, a Korean college and high school was established in the country, the first in South and Central America. Its students are examples of a dynamic and successful process of assimilation of a double cultural identity: that of Korea and that of Paraguay. Currently, young people are educated and prepared for this advantageous insertion in the international market. The empowerment and maintenance of this educational center is the result of the joint and coordinated work between the Korean government and the eastern community based in Paraguay.
The Republic of Korea, for the past 58 years (of diplomatic relations) has been a nation close to the affections of the Paraguayan people and a strategic ally to achieve the desired development. The relations of friendship with the Republic of Korea have not only been strengthened over the past five decades, but have reached a point of maturity in its various manifestations.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning the permanent support that Paraguay has shown and demonstrated to the Republic of Korea in the different international forums, as a natural way of expression between two nations that share common values and interests and, very particularly, to be one of the most important strategic allies for Paraguay.
The Paraguayan government encourages the Korean companies, known for their passion in work ethics, to aggressively explore the Paraguayan market and invest in my country. The Korean companies have a great advantage when it comes to Paraguayan market because of the following: First, the Korean firms were involved in the Paraguayan market and have operational offices in Paraguay. Secondly, the Korean companies have a good reputation in Paraguay because they undertook infrastructure projects and other investments. Thirdly, Paraguay has a good image of Korean products since they are more advanced technologically.
There are many Korean investments in Paraguay like Samsung Electronics, THN Group, M View Global, Born Star de Donghwa Company, Shopping Paris, Las Tacuaras Group, Kim's Towels, FAOH Group and others. It can be mentioned that business cooperation between Korea and Paraguay is like a gold mine, and the sectors of infrastructure, building, food industry, logistics and services, textiles, clothing and garment production, auto parts and car accessories, and tourism as the main ways that both countries can work together.
And there is a friendly business environment in Paraguay, an investor-friendly legal framework and efforts to improve infrastructure are key to Paraguay's objectives to diversify its economy and within this context, the Korean companies will find a suitable environment for their business opportunities.
Paraguay sees Korea as strategic ally in the building of its own development. KOICA's cooperation to Paraguay is one of the best in the field of education, health, agriculture, air industry, vocational training of human resources, rural development, technology transfer, environment issues, e-government, planning and construction of infrastructures. Today, Paraguayan companies offer Korean consumers products of the rich Guarani land, such as stevia, a natural sweetener, mate tea, chia, sesame, beef, meat products, rice, corn, fruit juices, fruits, natural tea, soybeans and derivatives, leather, among other products. Paraguay, as a country member of MERCOSUR, is negotiating a trade agreement with Korea.
Paraguay is a bilingual country, unique in the world where a native language, the Guarani, is recognized as an official national language together with Spanish. This cultural blend is seen in Paraguay's forms of arts, crafts, music, festivals, literature, cinema, fashion and languages. And with the Korean presence in Paraguayan soil, this culture is even more enriched.
For these reasons, and many more, long live to the Friendship between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Paraguay.
Raul Silvero is the ambassador of Paraguay to Korea.