President of South Korea visits the Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - South Korea President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea arrived in Manila last Sunday for a three-day state visit. 

Before engaging in bilateral talks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino, III, President Lee Myung-bak stopped by the Ateneo de Manila University to share his experiences as a working student and inspire the youth to 'never give up'. 

Being the youngest CEO of Hyundai Construction at age 35 then going on to become mayor and eventually the President of the Republic of Korea, President Lee Myung-bak advises the youth to "...never be ashamed of failure. [Because] Through failure you'll learn a lot about yourself,". He also said that he believes in the potential of the country and "hopes the students will do something to change and improve the country."

A state dinner in honor of South Korean President was held at the Malacanang Palace on November 21. President, President Benigno Aquino III welcomed him and expressed his gratitude for his and his country's continuous support. It was reported that five agreements in total have been signed during the visit and these include: 

1. $500 million worth of soft loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea that the Philippines can access from 2011 to 2013.

2. Framework for the process of seeking grant aid 

3. Possibility of the construction of a power plant in Subic Bay using environment-friendly technology (as President Lee was named Hero of the Environment by TIME Magazine in 2007)

3. Financial assistance by Korea's Export-Import Bank to the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project, an irrigation project

4. Establishment of multi-industry clusters in selected areas in the Philippines that would create jobs and agricultural self-sufficiency

5. MOU addressing the need for increased power demand in Luzon

Another issue tackled by the two leaders is the dispute over Spratly Islands. The Philippines has requested for S.Korea's support for the upgrade of its military equipment and South Korea has expressed its intention of helping resolve the Philippines' maritime problems "in accordance to international rule, norms and standards".

President Aquino then ends his speech by saying, "our meeting this morning has helped position our two countries towards a more positive, dynamic, and nurturing friendship that will best serve the mutual interest of the Filipino and Korean peoples." 

With its place as the Philippines' 5th largest trading partner with trade amounting to $6.08 billion and investments of $691.3 million (according to The Official Gazette), President Benigno Aquino also thanks the Koreans who continue to go and invest in the Philippines. He says their presence in the country also serves as a great indicator of the "improvement in the working and living conditions of the country."


Sources: The Philippine Daily Inquirer ( , Official Gazette (