It has been 1 year and 8 months since I came to Pakistan as the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea. During this time, the most frequently asked question of my Pakistani friends has been, “How did Korea develop so amazingly in such a short time?”

In 1960, Korea’s per capita income was $79 which was lower than the average income of the Least Developed Countries and Korea had only $20 million foreign exchange reserves. By the end of 2013, Korea’s per capita income was $25,977 and its foreign exchange reserves were more than $345.6 billion, the 8th largest reserves in the world.

There are many reasons for Korea’s speedy development. The two most important reasons were Korea’s visionary leader, President Park Chung-hee, who created a strong momentum and secondly, the Korean nation’s unity and efforts with their sacrifices.

A Korean newspaper, The Dong-A Ilbo, published an interview with Dr. Baek Yeong-hoon, translator of the Korean Government’s loan delegation to West Germany, on 10th April 2013, about how President Park got a $30 million commercial loan in 1961 from West Germany. This loan was required very urgently for implementing the first Economic Development 5 Year Plan (1962-66).

After the Korean Delegation’s visit to West Germany in December 1961, Korean miners and nurses started working in Germany from 1963.  Even though their working conditions were very difficult and intense, they provided parts of their income as security for a German commercial loan to the Korean Government.

President Park visited West Germany in December 1964. During his stay in West Germany, he visited the Ruhr mines along with Karl Heinrich Lübke, the president of Germany, and addressed the Korean miners and nurses. During his speech to these hard working Koreans, President Park cried while he promised, “We must not pass this poverty to the next generation”. This is a really good lesson for Pakistan too, if it wants to learn Korea’s Economic Development.

President Park learnt many lessons during his visit to West Germany in 1964 which would change the history of Korea. Particularly, he understood that he should not rely only on foreign aid for the progress of his country. Secondly, he learnt how to make an economic development order for the economic stability in a country. His economic development order started with the construction of highways, followed by the making of automobiles, steel mills and oil refineries.  

Today, thanks to the visionary leadership of President Park and the national unity, determination, dedication and sacrifices of the Korean people, the Republic of Korea has witnessed the miracle of the Han River. Since 2012, Korea’s trade volume with the world has been more than $1.1 trillion, and it is the 7th largest merchandise exporter and 9th largest merchandise importer in the world. Korea’s GDP is over $1.3 trillion, which is the 14th largest GDP in the world. Korean companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Lotte and Daewoo are household names all over the world and Korea is a global power in industries like shipbuilding, semi-conductors, LCDs, communication technology, power generation, electronics and nuclear technology.

I wish to see the Miracle of the Indus River here in Pakistan as I witnessed and experienced the Miracles of the Rhine River in Germany and the Han River in Korea. And with that desire and hope, I have always made efforts to strengthen the relations between our two countries as an Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan.