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New Envoy Yurii Mushka stresses
"Ukraine Wants More, Better Ties with S. Korea"
Ukranian Ambassador to Seoul Yurii Mushka

Barely a couple of moths after his arrival in Seoul, Ukrainian Ambassador to Seoul Yurii Mushka showed a firm resolve in promoting Ukraine to the local people. Perfect speaker of four languages — Hungarian, Russian, English as well as Ukraine, Amb. Mushka spoke to The Seoul Times in his fluent English about Ukraine's highly developed industries and his plans to further develop mutual ties between Kiev and Seoul.

Unlike popular perceptions about Ukraine as a nation of arts and gymnastics, the top Ukrainian envoy stressed the nature of Ukraine's highly developed industries of aerospace, shipbuilding, steel, and defense. For one thing over 90 percent of helicopters' engines of the former Soviet Union were made by Ukraines, according to Amb. Mushka.

The Seoul Times recently interviewed Amb. Mushka and following are the questions and answers with the top Ukrainian envoy.

Q1: To start with, on behalf of all The Seoul Times staff and readers I would like to congratulate you on your inauguration as the new Ukrainian ambassador to Seoul. Could you explain about when you arrived in Seoul and what have you been doing since your arrival?

A1: I arrived to Seoul on July 24, this year from Budapest. Since my arrival I presented the credentials to the President of the Republic of Korea H.E. Mr. Roh Moo Hyun.

Now my task to make contacts with korean officials, businessmen as much as possible in order to improve ukrainian- korean relations.

Q2: Since S. Korea established diplomatic ties with Ukraine in 1992 mutual relations have developed a lot in various fields for each country. As an ambassador what would you like to do to further enhance overall bilateral relations?

A2: Relations between the countries were launched in 1992 soon after Ukraine gained its independence. Republic of Korea was one of the first countries to recognize the new independent state. During our short history, politicians on both sides have worked hard to solidify relations and Ukraine and Republic of Korea always enjoyed traditionally high level of cooperation in different areas.

I came to Korea with high hopes and a strong determination to bring relations between two countries to a new level. As an Ambassador I am responsible for all spheres of the bilateral relations, including the political issues, the economics and trade, culture and others.

I will pay more attention to trade and economics. I am looking to increase trade and to attract more Korean investments to Ukraine.

Q3: What is the trade volume between the two nations? What are your plans for, or prospects of, further increasing bilateral trade?

Ukranian Ambassador to Seoul Yurii Mushka

A3: Trade volume between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea is around 1 billion USD and an increase of almost 20 percent from the previous year. So we can say that our economic relations are on track but we need more active investment cooperation.

Although figures of our bilateral trade do not reflect the potentialities of our countries. It's worth to remind that the share of bilateral trade is rather insignificant in terms of the total volume of either country's foreign trade. The structure of Ukrainian exports is also our concern, because it is formed mainly by raw materials and semi-finished products. We are going to make every efforts aimed at diversifying Ukrainian exports so that high-tech products in its structure would prevail.

We should understand that in modern world we can not survive having just trade. Cooperation, common programs in high technologies that is our aim.

Q4: How many South Korean companies are now in operation in your country?. What role do they play in your country? Do you have plans to induce more South Korean corporations to your country?

A4: Although figures of our bilateral trade are of buoyant trend, they do not reflect the potentialities of our countries. It's worth to remind that the share of bilateral trade is rather insignificant in terms of the total volume of either country's foreign trade.

The structure of Ukrainian exports is also our concern, because it is formed mainly by raw materials and semi-finished products. We are going to make every efforts aimed at diversifying Ukrainian exports so that high-tech products in its structure would prevail. Recently some indications have shown that the share of the products with high added value in Ukrainian export is gradually growing.

Availability of cooperation in agricultural sphere should be mentioned. In particular, by attracting Korean investments for creation of agricultural enterprises in Ukraine with the following arrangement of Ukrainian agricultural production supplies to the market of the Republic of Korea.

Q5: A lot of South Korean students go overseas to study and to experience the culture of foreign countries. Do you have any plans to attract more Korean students to your country or to send more of your students to South Korea?

Ukranian Ambassador to Seoul Yurii Mushka

A5: Public of both countries shows considerable interest in learning history, present-day situation, and culture of Ukraine and Korea. In particular, the evidence of this is a well-developed structure of the bodies that look after these matters: created and operate actively the Korean-Ukrainian Inter-Parliamentary Association of Friendship, Ukrainian-Korean Friendship Society, Committee for Promoting Unification of Both Korean States, and Ukrainian Cultural Center in Seoul.

The Center of Korean Research was founded in 2001 at the Institute of Oriental Studies of Crimea with the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

We also witness the increasing number of student from Ukraine to study at the Korea Universities.

Q6: What is the present state of people's exchanges, and cultural exchanges between the two countries? Do you have any plans to introduce more Ukrainian culture to Korean people, or vice versa?

A6: Our countries have considerable opportunities for the expansion of cooperation in the spheres of culture, tourism and education.

Bilateral cooperation in cultural sphere is also developing rapidly. During the last few years, our exchanges of arts groups and artists became more active. The Chongdong Theater participated in a very famous festival in Kiev. Also we could enjoy a concert tour of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. I believe that bilateral Agreement on Cultural Cooperation will contribute the cooperation between the two countries.

Ukraine is a country of ancient cultural traditions many of which have roots in the pre-Christian times. Ukraine has its national music, architecture whose most distinguished landmarks have come down to us from the 11th and later centuries, the arts which have produced masterpieces proudly exhibited at museums.

So wherever you go you may find various places of interest in every part of Ukraine. The most popular tourist areas among them are Kyiv, Lviv and Crimea.

The number of Korean visiting Ukraine in recent times doubled. That improves a serious interest of Korean business people toward Ukraine and a number of Korean companies are represented in Ukraine.

Kiev, Ukraine

Q7: What could be the ideal policy of the South Korean government for the unification of North and South Korea? What do you think is the most desirable attitude for South Korean people to have for the unification? How soon do you think both Koreas could be peacefully reunified?

A7: I want to point out that Ukraine stands for resolving inter-Korean problem including "nuclear issue" through the direct dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang as well as through multilateral negotiations. Ukraine shares the principles laid down in "the South-North Declaration" of June 15, 2000, which has been signed by the Presidents of two Koreas.

As far as the unification is considered it should be done by peaceful means having the good will of North and South.

Q8: Although you haven't had enough time in Seoul perhaps, but what are the things that are most impressive to you? What was your biggest cultural faux-pas experience? What are the things that are most different from your own country?

A8: I am first time in this part of the world, before I was posted in Budapest three times. So everything is new for me: different culture, new people, the taste of the food. It is a new experience, a great experience.

Of course, there are a lot of cultural differences between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea but that variety makes our life interesting.

What most impressed me are Korean people. They are very openhearted. That creates a good environment for my work in Korea.

Q9: What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

A9: If sometimes happens that I have spare time of course priority number one is my family. Speaking about hobby I like hunting and fishing if there is no hunting.

Q10: Could you please tell me in detail about your family? Are they all here in Korea? What do they do? How are they adjusting to Korean life?

A10: My family is here in Seoul. During my posting abroad we were always together. My son is 15. Now he is studing hard to prepare himself for the university. We enjoy our stay in Korea.






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