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Present and Future of the K-Defense Industry with the Former President of Poland

        Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, has emerged as the largest export market for “K-defense” since last year. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland has embarked on a power enhancement journey, signing contracts worth tens of trillions of won with Korean defense companies. During the Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) held on May 18, participants from Poland and Korea emphasized the need to develop the newly established bilateral relationship into a long-term cooperative partnership.

        Former President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski stated, “Eastern Europe has entered a new phase due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and our generation, who has not experienced war, is now facing significant challenges.” He further emphasized, “Having experienced war, Korea can provide Poland with not only weaponry but also valuable perspectives and understanding regarding security.” Kwaśniewski, who served as the President of Poland from 1995 to 2005 and played a leading role in Poland’s accession to the European Union (EU), recently stated that a “new era” has begun in the relationship between Korea and Poland. While the 1988 Seoul Olympics marked the beginning of bilateral cooperation, the current collaboration has extended to the defense sector.

        Chae Woo-seok, Chairman of the Korea Defense Industry Association and a reserve lieutenant colonel, expressed, “There are numerous areas in which both countries can collaborate, ranging from conventional weapons to cutting-edge technologies.” He suggested establishing private research groups, promoting collaboration among the military, government, and defense companies, and eliminating bureaucratic obstacles to ensure the success of the cooperation.

        Hanwha Defense Systems CEO, Lee Sung-soo stated, “Building upon Korea’s geopolitical situation over the past 50 years, we have developed high-quality weapon systems for the military.” He added, “We are prepared to fulfill Poland’s demands and demonstrate flexibility.” Research Fellow Jang Won-joon from the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade remarked, “Poland chose K-defense not only for its performance but also for its rapid supply capabilities. This partnership can serve as a benchmark for defense cooperation, enabling joint research and development (R&D), production, and marketing in the European market.”

        Although Poland is approaching the general election in October, former President Kwaśniewski predicted that the election results would not impact the bilateral relationship. He stated, “Both countries require each other, regardless of the election outcome.” CEO Lee Sung-soo added, “In the defense industry, there is a saying that starting a project may take 10 years, but once initiated, it can last for 30 years.” He further commented, “The defense collaboration between Korea and Poland is projected to endure for at least 50 years, marking only the beginning of this journey.

        The bilateral relationship between Poland and Korea is undergoing a significant transformation in the defense sector. With Poland emerging as the largest export market for “K-defense,” both countries recognize the need for long-term cooperation in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges. The shared understanding of the impact of conflict, as well as the expertise and technological capabilities of Korean defense companies, positions them as valuable partners for Poland.

        The commitments made during the Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) reflect a shared vision for the future, emphasizing the establishment of cooperative frameworks, collaboration among various sectors, and the pursuit of joint research and development. As Poland prepares for its upcoming general election, the strong foundation of the bilateral relationship is expected to endure, fostering enduring defense cooperation between the two nations for decades to come.

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