Singapore and Korea highlighted their bilateral milestones achieved over the years, commemorating Singapore’s 58th Independence Day on Friday.
Singapore became independent from Malaysia on Aug. 9, 1965.
Noting recent achievements in his remarks at the event, Singapore ambassador to Korea Eric Teo highlighted Singapore as Korea’s first free trade agreement partner in Asia in 2006 and the No. 1 infrastructure investment destination for Korea in the region for many years.
He recalled Singapore as Korea’s first Vaccinated Travel Lane or Travel Bubble partner in 2021 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and underlined Singapore’s establishment of the first Climate Change Dialogue with Korea among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to address global environmental challenges.
Teo also referred to Korea’s first digital partnership agreement signed with Singapore in 2021 and the signing of one of its first artificial intelligence memorandums of understanding in 2022.
Teo applauded stakeholders in both countries for working together to seek win-win opportunities for their citizens and businesses.
"Going forward, there are many common issues and challenges that Singapore and Korea can exchange experiences and lessons on, including respective foreign talent and foreign labor policies, drug management policies and education reform," said Teo.
"Our two countries are very like-minded," said Teo, highlighting multi-faceted collaboration as the driving force behind the bilateral milestones.
“Singapore and Korea lack natural resources, but hardworking people are our key assets," said Teo.
Speaking on the people-to-people ties, Teo noted the recovery of tourist numbers that reached pre-pandemic levels, as well as the growing air connectivity between Singapore and Korea.
“No wonder we hear and see more Singaporeans in places like Busan, Jeju, Myeongdong, Hongdae and even Nami Island,” said Teo.
"I saw so many Korean tourists enjoying the sights, sounds and food of Singapore. There are many Little Koreas in Singapore!" said Teo, recalling his recent trip to Singapore.
According to Teo, flight capacity between Singapore and Korea expanded by about 35 percent compared to pre pandemic levels.
"Singapore now has direct flight connections to three major cities in Korea, namely Incheon, Busan, and Jeju," said Teo, hoping for connections to one or two more Korean cities in the years to come.
"Singapore is viewed very positively in Korea, just as anything related to 'K' is extremely popular in Singapore,” said Teo, adding that he sees the present state of Singapore-Korea relations, including the critical people-to-people bond, as very positive.
Recalling the memorandum signed at the AI collaboration event held in December 2022, which was attended by the Singaporean Ministry of Communications and Information and South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Technology to continue joint research in eco-friendly AI and digital health, South Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong-ho called Singapore a center of logistics and a financial hub in Asia.
"Since declaring the Smart Nation initiative in 2014, Singapore has been driving a robust national digital transformation," said Lee in his remarks, applauding Singapore for securing third place, following the United States and China, in the Global AI Index 2021 conducted by Tortoise, a data analytics company based in the UK.
The result reflects Singapore's comprehensive vision and systematic preparedness for the upcoming digital era, according to Lee.
Discussing Korea’s response in the era of deepening digitalization, he introduced President Yoon Suk Yeol’s New York Initiative, which was announced in September 2022, as well as the recent declaration of the Paris Initiative at the Paris Digital Vision Forum.
Lee suggested actively utilizing digital technologies to address complex global issues such as climate change-related disasters, population aging and polarization, among others.
"Robust digital cooperation between Korea and Singapore will serve as a model for the international community," Lee said.