S. Korea pushes to develop Yangon's undeveloped suburb

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar, June 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is pushing to develop the southern region of Myanmar's largest city of Yangon, officials said Thursday, as part of its efforts to boost cooperation with the emerging Southeast Asian country.

Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, is the country's most important commercial center, though its southern suburban area of Dala is undeveloped.

South Korea proposed to Myanmar that it will help draw up the development master plan in the southwest region of the Yangon River that runs through Yangon and that South Korean companies participate in the development projects, a South Korean official said.

South Korea received a positive reply from Myanmar's government, according to the official.

The comment came a day after the two sides vowed to expand cooperation in a broad range of areas, including construction, infrastructure, energy, investment and finance, during their first talks on economic cooperation in Naypyidaw, the Myanmar capital.

On Thursday, the South Korean official explained that South Korea seeks to turn the southern region of the Yangon River into an economic hub by linking the area with the development master plan and a proposed industrial complex in Dala for South Korean companies.

Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has emerged as an attractive investment destination as President Thein Sein has made sweeping democratic reforms since assuming power in 2011.

About three times the size of the Korean Peninsula, Myanmar has one of the world's largest natural gas reserves as well as big deposits of iron ore, zinc, nickel and other mineral resources.

South Korea is taking cues from its success in turning the underdeveloped southern part of the Han River that runs through its capital city of Seoul into one of the most affluent regions in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The area below the river is commonly known as Gangnam, meaning south of the river.

South Korea is considering laying infrastructure in Dala and building a residential, commercial and industrial complex southwest of the Yangon River after constructing the so-called "Korea-Myanmar friendship bridge" over the Yangon River.

South Korea plans to secure a win-win project with Myanmar, in which South Korean companies participate in the development of infrastructure as well as a residential, commercial and industrial complex.

"The development master plan for the southern part of the Yangon River is in the drawing stage," another South Korean official said.

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