Prime Minister Hun Sen told a newly appointed South Korean envoy that Cambodia condemned North Korea for its recent missile launches, saying the actions escalated tensions and threatened security and peace, not just on the Korean peninsula, but in the world.

The premier conveyed his message during a courtesy call by new South Korean ambassador Park Jung-wook at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on February 20.

Park expressed his concern over the missile launches, saying his government saw them as a threat to peace, according to Hun Sen’s social media post after the meeting.

“[Hun Sen] told [Park] that Cambodia condemned North Korea for the recent launches, and that the missile tests violated a UN Security Council resolution and escalated tension,” it said.

Reuters reported that on February 20, North Korea fired two more ballistic missiles off its east coast, with Kim Jong-un’s influential sister saying Pyongyang’s use of the Pacific as a “firing range” would depend on the behaviour of US forces.

On bilateral relations, Hun Sen thanked the South Korean government and people for continued assistance to Cambodia, noting that even during the Covid-19 pandemic, direct flights connected the two nations.

“This demonstrates South Korea’s positive feeling towards the Kingdom, regardless of circumstances,” he said.

The premier also thanked South Korea for increasing the quota of Cambodian workers it would employ, and for funding the construction of a Phnom Penh bridge.

The post quoted Park as saying that South Korea has increased its official development assistance to the Kingdom, and that he hoped the construction of new bridges – which would span the Tonle Sap River to Chroy Changvar and then the Mekong River to Areyksat – will boost the Kingdom’s economy.

Thong Meng David, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said that since the re-opening of bilateral relations between Cambodia and South Korea in 1997, the two countries have increased cooperation.

“South Korea has helped build infrastructure, provided financial assistance, training and employment for Cambodians,” he said.

“[Hun Sen] has long worked to bring about a peaceful solution to the tensions between the two Koreas. I believe the use of negotiations and border reforms and development are part of his strategy to build trust and promote peace talks between them,” he added.