Korean Community in Yemen [Archives:2007/1014/Last Page]

January 8 2007
Picnic in Manakha.
Picnic in Manakha.
Joseph Park
For Yemen Times

The Korean Community in Yemen is not as big as in other Arab countries, with United Arab Emirates having about 600 Koreans, it only consists of about 70 to 80 people. But the size of the Korean community in Yemen is on an increase. In fact, there is a chance of a Korean Embassy opening in Sana'a. The Korean community was huge before the Gulf War; it consisted of about 1,000 people. As the Gulf War happened, the Korean People in Yemen started to leave, then as the Yemeni War happened the Korean community in Yemen dropped to only a few families. During the Korean IMF crisis, the Korean government had not found a reason to keep an embassy here, so the Korean government shut down the embassy. Most Koreans in Yemen are currently residing in Sana'a, Taiz and Sadah with a family in Saiyun/Hadramout area. As you probably know, there are many Korean electronic and IT-related companies in Yemen, there are many representatives from those companies as well. There are also constructors from the Hyundai Construction Company, who is building an electricity transmitter near the Marib area. After the Yemeni president's visit to South Korea, there have been an increasing number of businessmen interacting in both countries Korea and Yemen.

Most of the Koreans residing in Yemen have professional jobs. Many doctors and nurses are here representing Korean charity organizations and some of them work in their charity clinics, like Global Care Charitable Clinic or in public hospitals. Those who work in the charity clinics, offer low-class people a chance to get a medical service at a cheap price. The doctors and nurses who work in public hospitals offer Yemeni doctors a high-quality medical education.

There are many teachers amongst the Korean community, some work in a Korean institute called the Korean Educational Center, KEC, where they offer studies in Korean, English and computers. There are also piano teachers who teach both Yemeni and international students. The Yemeni Table Tennis coach is also a Korean, who coaches Yemeni players and is slowly improving the team with better results in many table tennis championships.

The Korean people in Yemen are open-minded to Yemeni people and the Yemeni culture; the Koreans keep close relationships with Yemeni employees, students, players and neighbors. The Korean kids also have a tight relationship with their friends in their neighborhood or their school.

As Koreans, they get together every weekend to share our hobbies like playing sports and they enjoy each others company by talking about their life-stories, and discussing international, Yemeni and Korean news. The Koreana Restaurant is the main social gathering place for the Koreans and this is where they go to eat Korean food. During their national holidays like Chusuk (Korean Thanksgiving Day), Sulnal (New Year's Day), they come to the Korean restaurant to enjoy delicious Korean cuisine.

As the Korean population is increasing in Yemen, now there is a organization in Yemen that represents the Korean people here, to the Yemeni society and to the Korean government. I interviewed the Chairman of the Korean Community Organization-Yemen (a tentative name), Kim Gwang Ja, and asked her what her ambition is for this organization, and she said she wants to make sure that every business that the Korean people here do will be smooth and without problems. She also said that she wants to set up a Korean School here so that the Korean kids won't loose their pride for their country. She also added that she wants to do things, in general, that will develop the Korean community in Yemen. She finally said that there is a probable chance of the South Korean Embassy reopening again by the end of 2007 in Sana'a.

The Former Yemen Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Asian department, Garhum Rasheed, has said that the Korean-Yemeni relationship is very bright in future and have many things in common, like their historical backgrounds. He said the Korean community in Yemen needs to be active in a way that they become the propaganda for the Korean government to the Yemenis. He also advised that the Koreans here need to do more to contribute to the Yemeni society, like the Korean fast-growing economy. He also said that the Koreans can learn from Yemenis in how North and South Yemen united.

Honorary consul of the Republic of Korea, Nabil Hayel Saeed, said that he feels the Korean society is being a great help and an example in setting the basic infrastructure and in business sector in Yemen. Nabil also advised the Korean society to become more committed to their employees at their work.

I think that the Korean-Yemeni relations is very hopeful and Koreans are doing their best for the good of Yemeni society and for improving the Korea's image to Yemenis, they are the true diplomats and they are the reason why Yemen and Korean can improve to become partner countries for each other.