The Uzbek Embassy in Seoul underscored the crucial contributions of Korean investors and the substantial Korean diaspora to the nation's development on its 32nd Independence Day, at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Monday.
Uzbekistan, which joined the Soviet Union in 1924, declared its independence on Aug. 31, 1991.
The Korean diaspora in Uzbekistan, known as "Koryoin" or "Koryo-saram," predominantly comprises ethnic Koreans who were forcibly deported from Vladivostok, on the eastern coast of the Soviet Union, to Central Asia in 1937 during the rule of Joseph Stalin.
According to the Uzbek Embassy in Seoul, over 200,000 ethnic Koreans presently reside in Uzbekistan, firmly embedding themselves as an integral part of the nation's diverse society.
"Korean diaspora has become an integral part of our multinational society," said Uzbek Ambassador to Korea Vitaly Fen in his remarks for the event, emphasizing the profound connection and shared mentality of Uzbeks and Koreans.
"Korea was the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to recognize the independence of Uzbekistan on Dec. 30, 1991," Fen said, noting South Korea’s special place in Uzbekistan's foreign policy, with a special strategic partnership.
Fen noted the extensive diplomatic engagement between the two nations, with 18 meetings held at the level of head of state and the adoption of over 200 intergovernmental documents showcasing the depth of their collaboration.
Fen revealed ongoing discussions for the visit of Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister and Senate chair to South Korea, demonstrating the commitment to strengthening bilateral relations further.
He also applauded the substantial presence of Korean investors in Uzbekistan, with approximately 900 enterprises currently operating with Korean participation.
In 2022, trade turnover between the two countries surpassed $2.3 billion, and the overall volume of investments attracted from South Korea exceeded an impressive $7.3 billion, according to the Uzbek Embassy.
Meanwhile, Lim Soo-suk, spokesperson at South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, praised Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's reform initiatives and expressed optimism for Uzbekistan's growing international stature.
Lim paid homage to the historical relationship between the two nations, highlighting Uzbekistan's role as a welcoming home for the Koryoin who emmigrated to Central Asia nearly eight decades ago. He emphasized that Uzbekistan and South Korea share a unique and neighborly bond, further cemented by their shared aspirations for prosperity and cooperation.