Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea, Moon Hee-sang (L) and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. (Knesset) (Knesset)
Israel south korea

On Monday, Israel welcomed welcomed to the Knesset with open arms a high-level delegation from South Korea.

By: United with Israel Staff

The Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea, Moon Hee-sang, visited the Knesset on Monday along with 25 senior officials from the Republic of Korea, including four members of the National Assembly.

During a work meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that “Israel and South Korea share a common destiny.”

He noted that South Korea lives “under the threat of missiles from North Korea, and we are threatened by Iran on a number of fronts.” Likewise, both countries “live in tense regions.”

Israel and South Korea share some remarkable similarities.

Both have ancient traditions that date back more than 5,000 years and have managed to survive. The state of Israel and the Republic of South Korea were both formally established in 1948. Since then, the two countries have been preoccupied with regional conflicts, forcing them to invest significant resources, both human and financial, into defense. Yet they have both managed to thrive economically in their own ways.

“We are two ancient peoples with history and culture of more than 5,000 years, we share the passion for learning and education, we lack natural resources and can rely only on our human resources,” wrote Israeli Ambassador to South Korea Chaim Chosen upon taking his post in 2016. “We built our countries from scratch, and in a short time of several decades, Korea and Israel could get to excellent achievements in many fields. Korea turned to be one of the leading economies of the world and a technological powerhouse. Israel is known today as a startup nation.”

Touching on Israel’s evolving status in the Middle East, Edelstein said that “it is hard to think of a solution in the form of dialogue with the Iranian side. However, new winds in the Middle East are a source of optimism: a number of countries that up until now refused to have any contact with Israel are changing their policies, and I hope that they are a harbinger of change in our region,” Edelstein underscored.

Israel has recently experienced a thawing of ties with several Arab and Muslim countries, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that more diplomatic breakthroughs are expected.

Chutzpah and Chili Peppers

Edelstein told Moon that he intends to do his best to promote a free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea. The volume of trade between the countries has been increasing, and is expected to reach $2.3 billion by the end of the year.

Moon praised Israel’s progress over the past few decades, and said South Korea would like to strengthen its cooperation with “the start-up nation.”

“Both countries have not been blessed with natural resources, but they were advanced by the minds of the citizens and an attitude of ‘chutzpah’ and courage,” Moon said, while noting that the word ‘chutzpah’ sounds similar to the Korean word for chili pepper.

This year marks the 57th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and South Korea. The countries cooperate in various fields, including security, research and development, commerce, culture, education, and more.

JNS contributed to this report.

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