One year ago, the Seoul-based English Newspaper Korea Herald published the article Brazil, Korea emerging together, stating that “when you look closely at the relationship between Brazil and Korea you see that Brazil is a country in the hearts and minds of Koreans”. The article goes on saying that “business and trade relations between Korea and other countries are more often than not very promising, but add Brazil to the equation and the possible future can be astronomical”.
And, in fact, it has been recently noticed that South Korea’s trade with Central and South American countries nearly quadrupled over the past 15 years on the back of growing economic cooperation between the two regions. And trade with Brazil, the country’s largest Korean partner in the region, jumped 4.9 times to $9.05 billion.
Things are going well in the Science and Technology front also. The Brazilian Embassy in Seoul has been working hard on identifying complementary areas and connecting experts from both countries. The Brazilian Ambassador Edmundo Fujita is an enthusiast of science and technology cooperation and believes that “Brazilian and Korean scientists should innovate together”. Areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, agriculture, aerospace, information technology and energy have been a priority to the Embassy.
Three players have been taking active parts in helping pave the way for a successful Brazil-Korea cooperation in S&T. Mr. Daniel Fink, a native of Bom Principio, Rio Grande do Sul, is the Science and Technology Advisor of the Brazilian Embassy in Seoul and a major force driving the dialogue between Brazilian and Korean Universities, research centers and industries. Mr. Fink´s knowledge of the major scientific and technological organizations and capacities in Korea is proving valuable as the Embassy moves its S&T agenda forward.
Living in Korea since 2005, Dr. Lucio Freitas-Junior, who was born in Brazil´s capital, Brasilia, is the leader of the Systems Biology of Pathogens Group of the Institute Pasteur Korea. The Institute is an advanced medical research center dedicated to drug discovery using cutting edge concepts and tools. Dr. Freitas-Junior´s team, that includes many Brazilian scientists and students, is developing state-of-the-art high-throughput/high-content screening techniques to discovery of new drugs. The targets are three of the most debilitating human infectious diseases: malaria, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, which have tremendous impact in human health in the tropics.
In 2009 the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization – Embrapa accepted the hospitality and the partnership of the Rural Development Administration – RDA of South Korea, to install its first Virtual Laboratory in Asia, the Labex Korea. Dr. Mauricio Lopes, a plant geneticist and molecular biologist born in Bom Despacho, Minas Gerais, is the first scientist and coordinator of this program, which is headquartered in Suwon, at the main campus of RDA. Dr. Lopes´s mission is to promote the creation of international research networks dedicated to agricultural innovation, integrating teams from Embrapa and partner institutions in Korea and other Asian countries. He is also developing research in the area of access and use of biological resources, in partnership with KAIST, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, in Daejeon.