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2nd Vice Minister's Congratulatory Remarks at the the 2014 Annual Dinner of the Korea-Britain Society
December 10, 2014
I am delighted to attend the 2014 Annual Dinner of the Korea-Britain Society with its distinguished members who have been working very hard to promote the ties of friendship between Korea and the United Kingdom. I thank the Korea-Britain Society for inviting me to this wonderful event. The United Kingdom holds a special place in my heart as I briefly studied in Oxford University in my earlier years. So, tonight’s event is special for me personally as well.
The Korea-Britain Society, which has produced three Korean Prime Ministers and a UN Secretary-General during the past forty-three years, is one of Korea’s most eminent groups that greatly contributed to the steady development of our bilateral relations. The year 2014 represents a particularly important milestone in the activities of the Society. President Park Jin and Ambassador Wightman have worked together to increase the funding for the Chevening Scholarship of the UK Government, making it possible to provide young North Korean refugees with the opportunity to study in the UK. It is indeed a source of deep satisfaction and gratitude that the Chevening Scholarship, which has provided about 1,000 Koreans to date with opportunities for education, is now contributing to the promotion of social integration of the Korean society by making it available for educating a number of North Korean youth who have defected to the South.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last week, the British media carried some moving articles on Korea. Maestro Chung Kyung-wha, the renowned Korean violinist, who had returned to London in twelve years where she won global fame forty four years ago, held a concert that was praised as the ‘Legend Returns’.
Another equally touching scene was the interview of an aged veteran who attended the unveiling ceremony of the Korean War memorial in London earlier this month. Moved to tears, the Korean War veteran said that he never anticipated that the memorial would be built in London during his lifetime, but now he feels a sense of pride for having fought in the Korean War to safeguard Korea’s freedom and democracy. From that scene, we were able to confirm that the memorial will not only serve as a reminder of our partnership forged in blood, but also as a symbol that would bring the future generations of our two countries together.
This memorial built in honor of the 56,000 British war veterans, who put their lives on the line sixty four years ago for a small country in the Far East, is overdue in coming. It will serve, however, as a permanent evidence to inform future generations that the Korean War is not a ‘forgotten war’, but a victory that everyone in the free world should remember eternally.
More than anything else, this memorial is a token of the Korean peoples’ appreciation to the UK, as well as a symbol of the British pride. Rising above the ruins of war and poverty, Korea has developed into the world’s seventh largest exporter, fifteenth largest economy, and a full-fledged democracy. Korea as it stands today would not have been made possible without the sacrifice of the British young soldiers some 60 years ago. Like the inscription on the Korean War memorial established in Paju, Gyeonggi Province last April to commemorate the participation of British soldiers in the Korean War, “Their Name Liveth For Evermore”.
Throughout this year, we have witnessed new types of cooperation between our two countries in an unprecedented range of areas. On the day of the unveiling ceremony of the memorial, the First Korea-UK Ministerial Strategic Dialogue was held in London. During the meeting, the foreign ministers of our two countries were greatly encouraged by the achievements both our peoples have jointly made this year.
Among other things, it is worthy to note that our two foreign ministers signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Consular Crisis Cooperation to make joint efforts to protect the nationals of our two countries. Discussions on this issue started in the midst of the Libyan crisis last August, when a Korean warship helped to evacuate not only Koreans but also 47 British nationals.
While expressing his gratitude for Korea’s timely assistance, Foreign Secretary Hammond added that he was surprised to learn that a Korean warship was in the vicinity of Libya at that time. And later the UK Foreign Office proposed to hold regular consultations at the director-general level to jointly address the challenges in Africa. The MOU that was concluded as a result has become another symbol of a stronger partnership between our two countries.
Korea’s recent decision to send health workers to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola together with the UK is another example of our maturing partnership which is expanding into unknown areas. By working together to respond to this global crisis, a greater level of trust has taken root between our two countries. Going forward, we will continue to strengthen our partnership not only in the reconstruction of the Ebola stricken countries, but also in coping with other global challenges.
Taking advantage of this new momentum for cooperation, our foreign ministers agreed to take a step forward from the ‘broad and creative partnership’ that our two leaders agreed on in 2013, and build a natural partnership in the global arena moving beyond the bilateral horizon.
On the eve of the year 2015, which will mark the starting year for a new climate regime and the post-2015 development agenda, such an agreement between our two foreign ministers to strengthen our strategic global partnership is a landmark achievement in the 131-year-old history of our diplomatic relations.
Shakespeare, one of the greatest British writers, said in his masterpiece Julius Caesar that “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” We must ride the wave of new changes that has been created by Korea’s enhanced international standing, the trust accumulated between our two peoples over the last 131 years, and the commitment of our two leaders who attach great importance to creativity. By doing so, I am confident that Korea-Britain partnership will continue to grow to new heights.
Now is the time to build upon the rich harvest we have reaped together this year, and to prepare for a bigger harvest next year and beyond. I wish all of you a new year full of happiness and prosperity.
Thank you. /END/