Koreans are traveling to Nepal in greater numbers. According to the Nepal Tourism Board, the number of South Koreans who visited Nepal in 2004, 2005, and 2006 were 3189, 5475, and 7,002 respectively. More recently, however, the number has increased to 16,145 in 2009 and 20,332 in 2010. What explains this?
Like anyone, Koreans choose to travel to Nepal for a variety of reasons. Some make the trip to see Nepal’s topography and wealth of captivating flora and fauna. The contrasts in Nepal’s topography range in elevations from 70 meters above sea level to 8,848 meters above sea level — the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest. Ko Sang-don (고상돈) was the first Korean to reach that summit on 15 September 1977. His achievement has been an inspiration to Koreans ever since.
Koreans also come to Nepal to offer their assistance in different sectors of development. They have played a vital role in raising the living standard of poor Nepalese through different projects with the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) and other INGOs. Since 1990, about 30 volunteer experts have been sent by KOICA to Nepal to assist in the sustainable socio-economic development of Nepal. In January The Himalayan Times reported that South Korea had agreed to offer $2 million to develop Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, as a “world peace city”.
Other Koreans visit Nepal to start a new life. Some of them have opened Korean restaurants and introduced foods such as kimchi to the Nepalese. Despite the hardships of adjusting to a new country, these Koreans have enjoyed sharing their culture with the people of Nepal.
The relations and exchanges between Korea and Nepal are likely to grow, which is a good thing. The continued dedication and support of Koreans traveling to Nepal will greatly contribute to its reduction of poverty and sustainable development.