Updated Oct.29,2007 07:27 KST
"In Turkey, many Turks have a keen interest in Korea, seeing our bilateral relationship as one between blood brothers. On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, I hope that this 'one-sided love' of Turks for Koreans will develop into a warm relationship of mutual love."
Turkish Ambassador to Korea Deniz Ozmen made these remarks at a press conference to celebrate the 84th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, which falls on Monday. He emphasized the strong friendly relationship between the two countries.
"The Uyghur people, who were an ally of the Goryeo Kingdom, were the ancestors of present-day Turks," he said. "As the Uyghur people once lived near Goryeo, the grammatic structures of Korean and Turkish are similar. Turks still take a high interest in Korea, to the point that many schools teach their students the historical relationship between the two countries. But I'm sorry to see the Korean people have relatively less interest in Turkey."
Turkey formed a blood alliance with South Korea during the Korean War, sending 14,936 Turkish soldiers to aid the country. Some 721 died and 2,147 others were wounded. "Whenever they meet Koreans, almost every Turk will recount how one of their family members or a distant relative fought in the Korean War," Ozmen said.
With no conflict between the two nations, the greatest issue between South Korea and Turkey is the trade imbalance. Last year, South Korea exported US$3.4 billion worth of goods to Turkey but imported only $150 million of Turkish goods, for a trade surplus of more than $3 billion.
"Turkey is not a regular member of the EU, but it shares a tariff system with the EU countries. The bilateral trade imbalance can be resolved if Korean businesses take advantage of Turkey as a beachhead into the EU market," Ozmen said.