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제18차 이프타르(Iftar) 행사 만찬사 (3.29.)

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2024-04-01 13:41:38
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Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Cho Tae-yul

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

 18th Annual Iftar Dinner 

March 29, 2024



Ambassador Chafic Rachadi, Dean of the Arab Ambassadors,

Excellencies and colleagues from Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,

Leaders of Muslim Communities in Korea,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Ramadan Kareem!


I am delighted to extend my warm welcome to every one of you.


It is 20 years ago that a Korean Foreign Minister first invited Muslim members of the diplomatic corps for a dinner to mark Iftar.  


The ensuing two decades witnessed Korea’s ties with Islamic countries grow in leaps and bounds.


Countless exchanges of high-level visits and the establishment of the Korea-Arab Society in 2008, among others, have spurred closer ties across the whole range of political, economic and cultural domains.  


In many ways, tonight’s event is emblematic of the remarkable developments that have transpired over those years.


Having started as a gathering of some 20 participants in 2004, the Iftar Dinner has grown tenfold in size, to nearly 200 guests this evening.


And it is not just members of the diplomatic corps that are here today.


The presence of business leaders, religious leaders, scholars, students, journalists as well as TV personalities and social media influencers speaks volumes about the breadth and depth of ties between Korea and the Muslim World.


This diverse representation is fitting for what has become an annual tradition dedicated to fostering mutual understanding and respect for different beliefs and cultures.



Ladies and Gentlemen,


The ties between Korea and the Muslim community date back many centuries.


A 9th century account by the Persian geographer and writer Ibn Khordadbeh, offers a glimpse of how far back our ties stretch.  


He wrote of Korea, “when Muslims set foot in this land, they are captivated by its splendor and are reluctant to depart.”


This is admittedly a very generous assessment that I hope you will find to be true even today.


The longstanding affinity between our two communities is also evident in more recent history.


Brave Muslims stood with us in some of the fiercest battles during the Korean War, with many hundreds of young Muslims making the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom in Korea.


Furthermore, our economic cooperation with Muslim countries helped bring about the so-called “Middle East Boom" that fueled Korea’s dynamic growth during the 1970s.


And today, we are witnessing another “boom” in the cultural realm and in people-to-people interactions.


Around a million Muslim tourists are visiting Korea each year, while, in turn, more than a million Korean tourists are visiting Islamic countries.


On a national level, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visits to the UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar last year underscore Korea’s commitment to enhancing our bonds of friendship with the Muslim World.  


In particular, President Yoon’s tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the UAE and the Education City Mosque in Qatar, attests to the importance the Korean government attaches to promoting inter-cultural understanding.


The shared history of our friendship is firmly grounded in mutual respect and appreciation of diversity, and I am confident our bonds will grow even stronger in the years ahead.


Dear Colleagues,


As someone who served in the Korean Embassy in Saudi Arabia during the 1990s, I am filled with memories of Adhan - the call to prayer of Ramadan.


I have learnt that Ramadan is about much more than fasting: it is a time for devotion, solidarity and generosity.


This year, the holy month comes at a time of great pain.


For even as we gather here for the breaking of the fast, millions of civilians in Gaza are enduring immense suffering.


The fact that 70 percent of those killed or injured are women and children weighs very heavily on my heart.


The international community must work to put an end to this tragedy.


Effective, rapid delivery of humanitarian aid must be ensured.


Women and girls must be protected during times of war, especially from gender-based violence.

And all hostages must be released.


Korea will continue to support international efforts to end the current tragedy in Gaza, whether at the UN Security Council or through the provision of humanitarian assistance.


We are also dedicated to supporting efforts towards lasting peace.


It is imperative that the international community engage in earnest dialogue to reach a political solution that brings long-term and irreversible peace.


Distinguished Guests,


I hope that we, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, take this opportunity to reflect on the values of Ramadan: solidarity, kindness, and benevolence.


The message of Ramadan is even more powerful in challenging times.


It tells us to stand by one another.


It is a reminder of our shared humanity.


May this blessed month guide us to a world of greater hope and compassion.


I wish you all a peaceful Ramadan. Thank you.   /End/