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Turkey and South Korea: Blood brothers for 60 years

2017 anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations marks six decades of military, economic, and cultural cooperation

18.11.2015
Turkey and South Korea: Blood brothers for 60 years

Ankara

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

ANKARA

The 2017 anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and South Korea will mark six decades of a military, economic, and cultural "special relationship".

Cho Yunsoo, South Korea's Ambassador to Ankara, told Anadolu Agency this week that relations have improved over that period "without slowing down".

"The people of Turkey and South Korea call each other 'blood brothers'," he said, adding that a Turkish brigade named "North Star" served under the United Nations Command during the Korean War.

"Brotherly relations started during the time of the Ottoman Empire and have developed since then."

South Korean brands -- such as Hyundai and LG -- are now everyday sights in Turkey, but the Korean contribution to Turkish infrastructure is equally impressive.

"The third Bosphorus Bridge... is the longest cable-stayed bridge and the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world," embassy press officer Derya Celik told Anadolu Agency.

"Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. and SK Engineering and Construction Co. -- which have been building the bridge since 2013 -- are aiming to complete it next year," she added.

Other recent projects built together with South Korean companies have included a tunnel under the Bosphorus, a coal-powered power plant and an oil refinery.

Cho said that a free trade agreement signed in 2012 had dramatically increased bilateral trade and investment, while the Export-Import Bank of Korea says Korea had approximately $1.6 billion invested in Turkey by the second quarter of 2015.

Tourism is flourishing, with 22 direct flights between the two countries each week.

"The number of South Korean tourists coming to Turkey has increased to nearly 250,000," Cho said. "This number will likely increase in upcoming years."

Culture and sport also play an important role in relations. 

Turkey hosted its first K-Pop -- Korean pop music -- concert in 2012, and star Kim Jae-joong of JYJ was even invited to dine with then-president Abdullah Gul at a state banquet.

Meanwhile, the embassy's Korean Culture Center in Ankara gives free taekwondo classes in local schools, while Turks still recall Korean football fans turning out to support their team during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan.

Relations remain strong in the field of international security, as well.

On Sunday, South Korea's President Park Geun-hye told the G20 summit in Turkey that Korea would "closely cooperate with the international community, including France and Turkey, to eradicate terrorism".

The embassy underlined that "one of the highlights" at the summit would be the chance to engage with Turkey on the issue.

Turkey sent almost 15,000 troops to support the U.N. mission to Korea over the course of the 1950-53 war.

Of the 721 Turkish soldiers killed there, 462 were buried beneath the Turkish flag at the "Heroes' Cemetery" in the Korean city of Busan. 


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