A ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam People’s Army was held on December 17 at Hotel Lotte in downtown Seoul. The ceremony attended by 300 plus participants from Korea and members of foreign diplomatic corps was followed by a gala reception and cultural events hosted by Vietnamese Ambassador to Korea Pham Huu Chi.
Dr.Charles Mercieca, Ph.D., President of International Association of Educators for World Peace(IAEWP), who is presently visiting Korea, also joined the event to congratulate Vietnamese Amb. Pham Huu Chi personally for the festive event. Dr. Mercieca is concurrently global president of Concordia International University which has recently opened its Korea campus in Seoul.
Ari Art Company led by Ms Min Ji-young who is well-known for traditional Korean music and dancing performance presented a special Korean cultural program with her group members.
South Korea and Vietnam established formal diplomatic relations in 1992, though the two countries had already had various historical contacts long before that.
Thanks to the great efforts and contributions of the people and governments of the two countries, the Viet Nam-Korea relations have developed rapidly in all areas of cooperation, including political, diplomatic, economic, trade, investment, socio-cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
The two sides have gradually upgraded the bilateral relations to "Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership" in 2001 and to "Strategic Cooperative Partnership" in 2009. During the state visit of President Park Geun-hye to Viet Nam in September 2013, leaders of the two countries agreed to exert the best efforts of both sides to bring the bilateral cooperation in all areas to a new height.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vietnamese envoy reviewed the magnanimous history of the Vietnam People’s Army over the past 70 years.
The Ambassador affirmed the Vietnam’s armed forces in general and the Vietnam People’s Army in particular, had always actively participated in international cooperation activities on the principles of equality and mutual respect in order to build trust, develop mechanisms to address major security concerns and strategic challenges.
He also added that since the two countries established the diplomatic relations in 1992, the friendly relations and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and Korea in general and the relations in the field of security and national defense in particular, have always developed well.
Over the past time, apart from regular exchanges of high-level defense delegations, both sides have actively contributed to strengthening the friendly relations, multifaceted cooperation and mutual understanding between the people and armies of the two countries.
The Viet Nam People's Army would continue to work with other ASEAN armies to establish new mechanisms to protect the region's security. Viet Nam People's Army's General Chief of Staff, Senior Lieutenant General Do Ba Ty, said recently this at the opening of the 15th ASEAN Chief of Army Multilateral Meeting (ACAMM-15) in Hanoi.
He added that non-traditional security threats had emerged in great variety and were capable of leaving enormous consequences that could not be tackled by a single country. ACAMM-15, titled Enhancing Co-coordinating Capacity for ASEAN Armies to Respond to Non-traditional Challenges, was held by the Viet Nam People's Army for the first time. The meeting aimed to foster exchange and integration of personnel and resources, enhance solidarity, develop mutual understanding and build trust among ASEAN militaries. General Ty said ACAMM had become a crucial co-operation mechanism, helping member nations to collectively deal with common security threats. At the five-day event, participants discussed measures to promote co-operation among army members with a view to maintaining the region's peace and spurring development as part of ongoing efforts to build the ASEAN Community by 2015.
According to Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải, "The Republic of Korea is a very important partner of Vietnam and a good model for Vietnam to expand cooperation and exchange experiences during its development process."
Both North and South Korea lent material and manpower support to their respective ideological allies during the Vietnam War, though the number of South Korean troops on the ground was larger. Then-South Korean president Syngman Rhee had offered to send troops to Vietnam as early as 1954, but his proposal was turned down by the U.S. Department of State; the first South Korean personnel to land in Vietnam, 10 years later, were non-combatants: ten Taekwondo instructors, along with thirty-four officers and ninety-six enlisted men of a Korean Army hospital unit. In total, between 1965 and 1973, 312,853 South Korean soldiers fought in Vietnam; Vietnam's Ministry of Culture and Communications estimated they killed 41,400 North Vietnamese Army soldiers and 5,000 civilians. South Korean troops were hampered by their lack of command of any of the major languages in the country or among their allies. They were also accused of war atrocities, and are known to have left behind thousands of children of mixed Korean and Vietnamese descent.
In 2001, South Korean president Kim Dae-jung expressed his condolences for Korea having inflicted pain on the Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War, although unintentionally. Also, he promised to continue supporting the development of Vietnam.
In the aftermath of the controversial 2006 North Korean nuclear test, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Dzung expressed the Vietnamese Government's grave concern over the test, stating that it will heighten tensions and threaten the region's stability, and stated that Vietnam supports the "denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula.
After the ROKS Cheonan sinking of 2010, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said: "The sinking of Cheonan is a regrettable incident. The Government of Vietnam expresses its heart-felt condolences to the Government of the Republic of Korea for the loss of lives in the sinking. Vietnam has attentively and closely been following the current developments in the Korean Peninsula. Vietnam consistently and persistently supports peace, stability in the Korean Peninsula, and favors dialogue for peaceful settlement of all matters. Vietnam wishes that parties concerned could exercise restraint for the sake of peace, stability in the Korean Peninsula and in the region."