Korea, Committed to Diplomatic Relations with Israel.
Last Thursday evening His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea & Mrs. Lee Gun-tae hosted a sparkling reception to inaugurate the newly-built chancery and the Korean National Day. The lovely building, located in Herzlia Pituach, is the first specially-built edifice in Israel by an Asian country – a sign of dedication to firm and lasting bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and the State of Israel.
The guest of honor was H.E. Mr. Shin Dong-ik, President of the Korean Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), who came to Israel especially for the event. Among the many ambassadors a diplomats present were also VIPs and socialites, including Uri Ariel, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Member of Knesset Joseph Yonah, Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office and head of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women; Chairman of the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce Gad Proper; Ambassador Meron Reuben, (Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs); Franco Vella, General Manager of Sheraton Tel Aviv (which was also the caterer for this event); Jane Yacoubzadi , Public Relations Manager of the Sheraton and many more.
The Korean Ambassador made a short speech of welcome, in which he pointed out that although the Korean National Day falls in October, the embassy decided to delay the celebration so as to coincide with the inauguration. This was followed by a live rendition of the national anthems of both countries, and then remarks by the Korean Foreign Minister. He expressed his delight at being able to be in Israel for the event and added: “This building is a testimony to Korea’s commitment to deepening our friendship with Israel. Korea is not only the first Asian country to build a chancery in Israel, but we had made the construction decision in the middle of a global financial crisis in 2008, when our financial budget was quite pinched. And today I would like to reiterate our gratitude to the Israeli government for helping us to make this building a reality.
“Many Koreans have been inspired by the story of Israel and its people in overcoming great hardships throughout its history with perseverance, hope and faith in God. Around thirty thousand Koreans make pilgrimage to Israel every year. More than 200 Koreans are currently studying the “Tanach” in Israel, including the Torah and biblical archaeology. Our two countries share many things. Both were founded in 1948. Since then, both overcame great adversity with the unwavering goals and commitment of their people to become global beacons of economic prosperity. Today, Israel – the ‘start-up nation’ – is a center of innovation that has more high-tech start-up companies than most other countries in the world. And Korea rose from the ruins of the Korean War to achieve rapid economic development, dubbed the ‘Miracle of the Han River’ ”. The Minister also mentioned the strong bilateral ties and the firm economic cooperation between the two democracies.
“In closing, I would like to thank all of you for being here today. And I hope you will continue to work closely with our Embassy in Israel to further promote the friendly relations between our two countries. I wish you all good health, happiness and prosperity.
M.K. Uri Ariel responded (in Hebrew followed by and English translation) on behalf of the government and people of Israel. He pointed out that already in 1950, the young Israel sent aid to Korea in the Koran war. Diplomatic relations between the two states were only established in 1962 “ … and today include cooperation in many fields, including security, commerce, scientific research, culture and more.” He added that Korean Air, which operates three weekly services between the two countries, is still the only Asian airline to fly to Israel.
“Perhaps better than any other country in the world, Israel understands the challenges posed by North Korea. Israel faces similar geo-political challenges, so Israel would like to enhance the security cooperation and political dialog with the Republic of Korea.” M.K. Uriel took the opportunity to renew the invitation of Israel’s president, Reuben Rivlin and of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Korea’s President, Her Excellency Park Geun-hye, to visit Israel. He ended his address by asking the Korean Foreign Minister and the Ambassador to send Israel’s warmest greetings to the government and the people of Korea.
A light buffet meal was offered as guests mingled in the happy atmosphere as the event drew to a close.
Photo Silvia G Golan