The Vietnam-South Korea Free Trade Agreement that is now in effect since December 2015 bodes well for economy of both countries, but maybe more so for Socialist Republic of Vietnam. With a GDP per capita of US$2,088.34, Vietnam has risen from being one among the poorest economies in world to a lower middle class status country, thanks to its Doi Moi policy of economic reforms launched in 1986.
The VKFTA, signed by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Korean Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy Yoon Sang-jick, provides for tariff removal and reduction, among other arrangements related to investments, intellectual property, trade protection policies and institutional cooperation between these two countries. This will take effect within 15 years from the date that FTA takes effect.
To elucidate on duties removal of some products of South Korea, tariff cuts will be placed on its exports like household appliances, cosmetics, textiles and garments and plastic products. These lowered duties will allow them to bring in materials to their foreign direct investment enterprises at lower cost. There are over 3,000 South Korean enterprises located in Vietnam, giving around 400,000 jobs to its nation.
Prospects are bright for Vietnam. In a Bloomberg survey of economists, it is forecast to be the second fastest growing economies for 2016, growing at nearly 7 percent last year. Enhanced investments climate is expected to increase the trade value to $70 billion by 2020 and Korea is expected to be a major factor in Vietnam's rise.
But optimism for the VKFTA masks the darker side of Vietnam people’s misery and grief for the families lost to the atrocities of Vietnam War. Undocumented by historians, incident of mass killings of Vietnamese women, children and elderly by Republic of Korea Armed Forces soldiers came to light with stories of Ku Su-jeong. Ku, a Korean graduate student in Vietnam University, published her interviews with survivors of numerous massacres perpetrated by South Korean soldiers in the Hankyoreh 21, a radical South Korean newspaper.
South Korea was not a direct participant on Vietnam War but ROK president Park Chung-hee sent more than 300,000 troops to Vietnam to fight with the US forces in exchange for millions of dollars and an assurance of US military support in the event for external invasions. These funds from America helped in South Korea’s astronomical economic rise in 1960s. But Park’s soldiers did not only fight against North Vietnam. It also murdered thousands of civilian South Vietnamese in guise of eradicating suspected communists.
The US Army and North Vietnamese troops had their share of carnage, most notorious being the My Lai and Hue massacres. Although these slayings are as horrendous as in South Korean massacres, the number of butcheries in villages and that manner it was done by Korean soldiers is unmatched in torture and savagery.
Another crime committed was abuse of thousands of Vietnamese girls and women. Raped, assaulted and impregnated by the soldiers, they gave birth to Korean-Vietnamese children called the Lai Dai Han, raised in extreme poverty and shunned by society. South Korean government officials deny the existence of the Vietnam comfort women but records at the US National Archives and Records Administration prove them to be true. #Finanzas