By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa celebrated its National Foundation Day in Maseru, Lesotho on the 11th of October, 2023.  This further strengthens the good relationship between the two countries. The occasion took place at Avani Maseru, welcoming everyone with an interest to join in the celebration.

Sponsored by Samsung, to make the event delightful, people indulged in different tasty treats from both Korea and Lesotho which left all those in attendance with ravishing compliments. Snacks and drinks while watching K-Film: ODE TO MY FATHER, also gave an exquisite cinema feel and a little sense of what being Korean feels like. There was also a lucky draw where numbers would randomly be selected and the number holders won prizes.

His Excellency Chull-joo Park, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Lesotho led the celebrations and welcomed those present. The celebrations were accompanied by many activities including Tai-Kwon-Do: martial arts originally from Korea. The event further strengthened diplomatic relations between the two nations with economic cooperation being a primary focus. 

Speaking on this occasion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Honorable Lejone Mpotjoana noted it was the country’s great privilege to join in the celebration of such an important day. He further extended felicitations to Koreans for the kind gesture of sharing their special day with Basotho. The Kingdom of Lesotho has shared a journey and has had a warm diplomatic relationship with Korea for over half a century, with both countries having mutual respect and understanding. The two sister countries also have bilateral cooperation which seemingly goes a long way, including sharing high-level exchanges. He made it known that they therefore recognize this day with pride which will add a hand in strengthening their connection and solid partnership.

He further stated that at the helm of the list is the historic meeting between the President of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Mr. Yoon Suk Yeol, and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Mr. Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane during the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September this year.

“The time has come, your excellencies, to stand shoulder to shoulder on shared interests and offer support as this will result in good fruit.” He extended gratitude for all the Korean Embassy has contributed to Lesotho and declared all as treasured gifts. Honorable Mpotjoana further urged Korean Companies to make investments in Lesotho.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Lesotho, H.E. Chull-joo Park on behalf of the Republic of Korea and its Government thanked the Government of Lesotho for their commendable participation in the event. He further showed that the two countries have been supporting each other in the international arena to promote common interests.

Walking down memory lane, when accepting letters of credence from the Ambassador-designate of the Republic of Korea, His Majesty King Letsie III said Lesotho and Korea share similar aspirations and desires; such as international peace and stability. He said Lesotho has also benefitted from capacity building where Korea has offered short courses in different areas, to locals and especially civil servants. He further appreciated the accreditation of Dr Jong-Dae to Lesotho, saying it is a clear testimony that his country is committed to enhancing relations between the two countries.

This comes at a time when the Republic of Korea is paving the way for the Busan World 2030 Expo, which focuses on creating a better future for all humankind and fits perfectly into both governments’ aspirations. 

The event was successfully sponsored by Samsung Electronics, which has a vision of uplifting and bettering humanity through technology and innovation.  Supporting this strategic partnership and the bid for the World Expo to be hosted in Busan, during the 2030 edition, would not only assist in strengthening the two countries’ bilateral agreement but also contribute to the development of Lesotho’s economy.

Samsung strongly believes that Lesotho has an opportunity to further drive local developmental efforts leveraging the World Expo.  It is the perfect platform to share technological advancements and act as a catalyst for eco-friendly innovations and a greener future for all, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of a global community, Samsung believes that these ongoing collaborations between these great nations, coupled with its empowerment initiatives are designed to make a significant difference to all people.

Honorable Mpotjoana revealed these kinds of engagements and partnerships are crucial to Lesotho’s socio-economic development aspirations. The country has made great progress in the field of education and has ambitions to build a better future for its youth through education.  As a long and reliable partner with a diplomatic relationship since 1966, the government of South Korea is among others planning to open: vocational training centers, improve educational environments, help with the customs modernization project, and launch afforestation projects in Lesotho.

Lesotho has benefitted from annual donations of office equipment worth US$100 000, and training slots predominantly on short courses offered to civil servants in different sectors under the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The Agency was established by the Korean Government in November 2006 to assist African countries in the fields of health, education, development, and infrastructure. The Korean Embassy also donated a new truck and thousands to extend a hand in tree planting in the Mafeteng district.

Formal diplomatic relations between Lesotho and Korea were established in 1966 since then, the two countries have enjoyed warm and cordial relations characterized by mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Both countries continue to stand in solidarity on issues of mutual interests at multilateral fora. At the bilateral level, the two countries signed the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement in 1981.