Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the State Banquet in Honour of President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in

Your Excellency, President Moon Jae-in

Madam Kim Jung-sook

Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 1               Good evening.  A very warm welcome to President Moon, Madam Kim and their distinguished delegation.  I am delighted to host President Moon’s first visit to Singapore as President of the Republic of Korea.  This is the third State Visit from the Republic of Korea since our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1975.  The last visit was 15 years ago, by President Roh Moo-hyon. 

2       The relationship between Singapore and the Republic of Korea has strengthened over the years.  In particular, bilateral exchanges and cooperation between our two countries have broadened and deepened. We have seen a steady number of high-level exchanges.  In the last six months alone, Singapore has welcomed visits by several Ministers from the Republic of Korea. A number of Singapore’s Political Office Holders have also visited Korea.    

3               Trade relations between our two countries are growing. Since the Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement came into force, bilateral trade has grown from S$20 billion in 2006 to S$45.4 billion in 2017. I am happy to note that President Moon and Prime Minister Lee had earlier today witnessed the exchange of six Memoranda of Understanding covering the environment, free trade, smart grids, the fourth industrial revolution, Small and Medium Enterprises, and investments. Agencies of both countries are also expanding collaboration in areas including fintech and cybersecurity. This is a testament to the growing relations and broadening avenues of cooperation between Singapore and Korea.       

4               Beyond Singapore-Korea relations, the ties between the Republic of Korea and ASEAN are also expanding.  2017 was the ASEAN-ROK Cultural Exchange year and saw the inauguration of the ASEAN Culture House in Busan.  This is the first initiative of its kind among ASEAN dialogue partners.  Featuring exhibits from all ten ASEAN countries, the Culture House is an excellent way to institutionalise cultural exchanges between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea.  Looking ahead, we welcome Korea’s intent to further strengthen ASEAN-ROK links through its New Southern Policy and stand ready to cooperate in areas of common interest, such as trade and air links, among others.  ASEAN countries can also learn from the Republic of Korea in areas like innovation and smart cities, which are the country’s strengths.

5               Beyond the economic realm, Singapore and the Republic of Korea share a similar strategic outlook.  Both our countries highly value peace, stability and prosperity in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Your Excellency’s efforts to bring about peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and engagement.  Singapore supports your efforts, and we believe that dialogue is an important step towards achieving peace.  In this regard, we were honoured to have been able to play a part through our hosting of the Summit between the US and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea last month. We hope that the historic Summit in Singapore will be the first step towards eventual peace on the Korean Peninsula.   

6               Your Excellency, we warmly welcome your personal commitment and efforts toward deepening and broadening relations with Singapore and the region, including at the people-to-people level.  The  Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February this year was an example of an event that brought people from different countries, languages and cultures together through sport. Incidentally, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was also highly symbolic of the strong friendship between our two countries.  Singapore’s first Winter Olympian, Ms Cheyenne Goh, is coached by Ms Chun Lee-kyung, a four-time Olympic gold medallist for speed skating representing the Republic of Korea.  It was a testament to the strong people-to-people ties that Singapore’s first Winter Olympian is coached by a Korean.  I am glad that Cheyenne and Ms Chun Lee-kyung have joined us for this evening’s Banquet, and thank them for helping to write a new chapter in Singapore’s winter sports history.  And finally in describing our people-to-people relations, I should also mention that K-pop and Korean dramas are very popular in Singapore, across all ages and races.  Many Singaporeans even learnt the Korean language so that they can watch Korean dramas!    

7               Your Excellency, Singapore has much to learn from your country’s use of technology and people-centred approach to sustainable development to create a high quality of life for its citizens. It is for this reason that Seoul has been awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize for 2018. Mayor Park Won-soon received the award at the World Cities Summit just three days ago. We look forward to further sharing our experiences, in order to improve the lives of our peoples. Singapore will continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea, on a bilateral basis and through ASEAN, to further broaden and deepen the relationship between our two countries. 

8               Your Excellency, your visit reflects the warm and close relations between our two countries.  I am confident that the friendship between Singapore and Korea will continue to grow from strength to strength, building on the foundation laid over the years to do more together and benefit our peoples.  On this note, I would like to once again extend my warmest welcome to Your Excellency and wish you and your delegation a fruitful visit in Singapore.

Your Excellency President Moon Jae-in,

Madam Kim Jung-sook

Distinguished Guests

          May I now invite you to rise and join me in wishing for:

  • The good health and success of President Moon, and Madam Kim;
  • The peace and progress of the people of the Republic of Korea; and
  • The close friendship between Singapore and the Republic of Korea.