Ambassador Santhush Woonjin Jeong on 2nd September held a fruitful discussion with Hon. Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self Employment and Business Development on a virtual platform. The bilateral talks centred on a wide range of areas including avenues to increase collaboration for rural development cooperation between Korea and Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Santhush stated that following the recent constructive call on the Finance Minister, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, he observed that the “Divineguma project” and “Saemaul Undong Movement,” Korea’s New Village Initiative, share many common traits. It is commendable that Sri Lanka and Korea have been emulating this economic model to improve the living conditions of rural communities. Korea has a unique story of economic development, the so-called “Miracle on Han River”. He asserted that Sri Lanka can develop into the “Miracle of Kelani River” with the assistance and cooperation of Korea.
Given Korea’s understanding of ground realities in Sri Lanka, the Korean government considers Sri Lanka as a priority development partner to extend assistance in the areas of economic and social infrastructure, as well as rural economic regeneration. The Ambassador reiterated that the Republic of Korea is committed to assist developing nations including Sri Lanka to build more sustainable rural economies.
Hon. Shehan Semasinghe expressed his appreciation to the Korean government for sharing technical expertise and extending support to uplift the rural economy in Sri Lanka via the Saemaul movement. The onion harvesting project initiated under the Saemaul Undong movement in Sri Lanka has yielded successful results, leading to the growth of the rural economy in the North-Western Province.
In addition, Saemaul Undong had assisted the villages of Pitiyagama and Pahalagama in the Province of Sabaragamuwa and Kegalle on mushroom and onion projects. These initiatives have been successful as the particular products are available for the public in major supermarkets in Sri Lanka. Saemaul Undong is a pan-national modernization campaign initiated by the Korean Government in the past. It dramatically improved the living conditions of people in Korea’s rural areas.
This visionary movement contributed to improved community wellbeing in rural communities through agricultural production, household income and communal empowerment. The economic success of Korea can be attributed to adopting this economic model in approximately 33,000 villages. These villages were supported with infrastructure, low-interest loans, entrepreneurial know-how and finances which led to the economic advancement of rural communities.