1. The Opening Ceremony for the “2020-2021 Year of Mutual Exchange between the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation” took place on March 24 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, co-hosted by their Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
° The Opening Ceremony, one of the first in-person ministerial events between Korea and Russia since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held as part of the diverse celebrations for the 30th anniversary, which have taken place largely online since last year. The ceremony carries significance in that it marked the full-scale beginning of the “Year of Mutual Exchange between Korea and Russia.”
2. The Opening Ceremony brought together Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov as well as 50 other distinguished guests from the two countries. The guests included Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation Kwon Goohoon and Special Representative of the Russian President on International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy, who celebrated the beginning of the Year of Mutual Exchange.
3. In his opening remarks, Foreign Minister Chung stressed that Korea and Russia have been on a journey together toward permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula as strategic cooperative partners, and asked for unwavering support and cooperation of the government and the people of Russia on the Korean Peninsula peace process.
° Foreign Minister Chung also reiterated Korea’s commitment to strengthening the implementation of its New Northern Policy with regard to substantive cooperation including on the program of "nine bridges", voicing hope that the friendly and cooperative relations and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries would take a big step forward based on the “friendship” and “trust” built over a generation.
4. In his celebratory remarks at the Opening Ceremony, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov took note that the two countries have developed strong and mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas including security, economy, culture and education. He expressed his willingness to make joint efforts with the Korean government for the success of the Year of Mutual Exchange.
° Foreign Minister Lavrov also conveyed hope that the various projects for the celebration of the 30th anniversary, which have been ongoing under the slogan of “the Future Built Together upon Friendship and Trust,” would provide great momentum for advancing the bilateral relations.
5. The Opening Ceremony featured various cultural events, including a joint jazz performance by artists from the two countries, a Pushkin Medal awarding ceremony, and the screening of video congratulatory messages from cultural and athletic celebrities such as Jo Sumi and Son Yeonjae.
6. Along with the Russian delegation, “Fonograf Jazz Quartet,” a jazz band led by the renowned Russian jazz pianist Sergey Zhilin visited Korea to stage a celebratory performance at the Opening Ceremony. The band played together with Korean jazz vocalist Malo “Summer Time” and other jazz songs familiar to Korean people such as “Jindalae (azaleas).” In addition, a Korean dance troupe put on a dynamic swing dance performance.
7. The Opening Ceremony was held in a hybrid on- and off-line format: In strict compliance with the COVID-19 prevention guidelines, the number of off-line participants was limited to 50, while the entire event was available for real-time viewing by larger public through “Live MOFA,” the online broadcasting platform of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to organize and support diverse cultural and people-to-people exchange projects during the “Year of Mutual Exchange between Korea and Russia” which will last until the end of this year, and further expand opportunities for the peoples of Korea and Russia to understand more about each other and deepen their friendship.