Tripoli, 18 July:
By Daeshik Jo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Libya.
In the early 1980s, I had just finished my . . .[restrict]military service and was preparing for an exam to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Around that time, I happened to see a movie and was enchanted by its eloquent title. It was “Lion of the Desert”, which depicted the life and struggle of an old teacher of the Koran who resisted the invasion of Italy.
I was very much impressed by the film. However, at that time, I did not pay much attention to the fact that the film was based on the life of Omar Mukhtar and the important role he played as a hero in the Libyan national liberation movement.
Since then, thirty years have passed and I was then appointed as the Korean ambassador to Libya. Remembering my first encounter with the country through the medium of cinema, I was excited to genuinely engage with the people, those like Omar Mukhtar, that had demonstrated such a passionate energy for freedom from oppression.
I was attending a Korean Ambassadors’ meeting in Seoul on February 17th last year when I was informed of the outbreak of the Revolution. At that point I immediately came back to Libya. Since then, I have witnessed the courage and determination on the part of the Libyan people which was instrumental in the final success of the civilian revolution. Needless to say given the weight of the overwhelming obstacles that were faced, I was moved, at a personal level, far beyond my early ‘Lion of the Desert’ movie experience.
As the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Libya, I have contemplated what ways Korea could best contribute to the reconstruction and development of the new Libya. Given that Libyan people have passed through hard times of civilian revolution, it was clear that as a friendly country we should not sit back and only watch. From the standpoint of a friend, I tried to find some ways to help the Libyan people because, I thought, a friend in need is the friend indeed.
After consultation with Seoul, we have determined that it would be best and most practical for Korea to assist the Libyan people in the areas where Korean expertise and strength most coincide with the Libyan needs. In this context, the following seven projects were selected:
1-Identification of the remains of missing persons,
2-A knowledge sharing program (KSP),
3-Human resource development,
4-Water resource management,
5-Administrative capacity building,
6-Infrastructure establishment, and
The Korean government has allocated an initial $7 million for identification of missing persons during the revolution. At the moment, the Korean team for identification is remaining in Libya, supporting Libyan efforts.
Though it was unfortunately gained as a result of a period of sadness in our own history, the Korean government is passing on its know-how, regarding the collection of the remains of the victims to the Libyan people who are suffering a very similar kind of sorrow. We acknowledge that though these efforts cannot wipe away the stains of fallen tears, they can, to an extent, help ease the pain of those losses.
The knowledge-sharing program (KSP) is looking to put forward references for economic development strategy that are based on the Korean experience. We hope this may provide useful policy guidance to Libya which has steered its economy to one which is based on free market principles. Meanwhile, the IT Training Center project looks to pass on know-how gained from the development of Korea’s world class IT infrastructure to help establish and grow that of Libya. In this regard we look forward to helping promote and develop new possibilities for the country.
I am convinced that the Libyan people will achieve social stability and democracy in the near future as they have succeeded in democratic revolution and have overcome very difficult adversities. The election on the General National Congress which was successfully held on 7th July could be a good sign as the Libyan people eloquently demonstrated their will and commitment to putting democratic principles into practice.
Though I am soon leaving Libya, I will remain as a friend of the country. Along these lines, I sincerely hope for the best regarding the reconstruction and stability of Libya along with the promotion of the mutual friendship and cooperation between our two countries. Finally, from the bottom of my heart, I wish the Libyan people the utmost prosperity and happiness.
Daeshik Jo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Libya.
See Ambassador Daeshik Jo’s opinion piece of 5 July: http://www.libyaherald.com/why-am-i-optimistic-about-libyas-future/
See Ambassador Daeshik Jo’s opinion piece of 1 July: http://www.libyaherald.com/why-not-libya-witnesses-of-history/