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[Incumbent] Remarks by H.E. Kang Kyung-hwa Minister of Foreign Affairs 16th IFTAR Dinner 9 May 2019

  • Date : 2019-05-10 14:37:59
  • Hit : 1847

Remarks by H.E. Kang Kyung-hwa
Minister of Foreign Affairs
16th IFTAR Dinner
9 May 2019

Y.E. Mohamed Salim Al Harthy (모하메드 쌀림 알하르씨), Ambassador of Oman
Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Imam Lee Ju-hwa (이주화),
Distinguished Guests,
Ramadan Kareem to all gathered here this evening,
To the 200 thousand Muslims in Korea, and to the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world,
I am pleased to host the Iftar Dinner for the third consecutive year, which reminds me that time flies and I’ve been in this position for quite a while now. Every year, this occasion is a valuable moment to reflect on the values of peace and tolerance, the core of Islam, and to exercise self-restraint during the longest days of the year in pursuit of purity and inner peace.

We just heard Imam Imam Baehaqi(이맘 ‘이맘 베이하키’) recite a verse of the Qur’an that reads: “ He planted love and compassion between you.” These words teach us that the Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of tolerance and generosity to care more deeply about others. It is a time to understand and to be considerate of the poor – not just with words, but through actions. 

This year has seen a milestone in fostering mutual understanding between religions. In February, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula, meeting with Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb. In the same spirit, we are honored to welcome tonight a special guest from the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea. Mr. Mario Codamo is carrying a warm message from Archbishop Alfred Xuereb(알프레드 슈에렙), Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See, who is currently away.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year, most unfortunately, we have also seen a string of horrific events – from the mass shooting at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, to the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to all Muslims and non-Muslims whose lives have been so suddenly taken and profoundly disrupted by the senseless, hateful violence. These tragedies are heartbreaking reminders of the pressing need to foster mutual understanding, respect, peace and mercy.

Ladies and gentlemen, Last year, the sudden arrival of Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island provided Koreans an opportunity to review and strengthen our refugee protection system and to have closer, more extensive interaction with people of the Muslim faith. Ms. Ha (Min-kyung), who provided shelter to the Yemeni arrivals on the island, recently tied the knot with Mr. Mohammed Ameen who was one of the refugees. Together, they are now running a Halal restaurant on JeJu Island.
Mr. Ameen and Mrs. Ha are here with us today. This couple stands as a living, breathing example of the power of love in transcending cultures.

I would also like to acknowledge Ms. Fatih Oumaima(파티흐 우메이마), and a Korean Muslim, Mr. Do Jeongseok (도정석).
Ms. Fatih Oumaima appeared on a Korean TV Program last year, where she introduced Islamic and Moroccan cultures to Koreans. as for Mr. Do Jeongseok I am told that he became fascinated by Islamic culture and converted to Islam about ten years ago.

Distinguished Guests,  

Korea has many historic ties with the Muslim world. A number of Korean families, including the Lee family of Imcheon(임천), can trace their roots to Islam. A grand mosque was once built in the capital city of the ancient Goryeo Kingdom. There are Joseon Dynasty records of Muslim leaders who recited verses from the Holy Qur’an during royal ceremonies. In fact, the ties between the Islamic world and Korea date back some 1,200 years.

This tradition of close exchange continues to this day. Almost one million Muslims visited Korea last year. K-pop and K-dramas are very popular across the Islamic world. The Korean government is also keen to strengthen political, economic and cultural cooperation with Islamic countries. President Moon made state visits to Malaysia and Brunei earlier this year, followed by recent trips to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon visited Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco last year, and is now returning from Kuwait. Korea continues to promote even closer ties with the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In closing, I would like to ask for the support of the Islamic world as the Korean government pursues complete denuclearization and the ushering in of lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. And I do hope that the peace process here will inspire similar efforts in Syria, Yemen,  Libya and other troubled parts of the world where peace has yet to be restored.

May peace be upon us all!(앗 살라무 알라이쿰),
Ramadan Mubarak!(라마단의 축복이 여러분과 함께)