Welcome Remarks by
H.E. Kang Kyung-wha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Reception for Diplomatic Corps
13 July 2017
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I had a prepared speech that was given to me but didn’t have time to review it. So I thought it better that I just tick off a few points here and give you my thoughts as they come. So I’m rather not very well prepared to be speaking to all of you, but I can convey views and my plans. And by all the warm sentiments conveyed to me by yourselves and through your Ministers I am truly touched.
To begin the speech now,
Your Excellency Archibishop Osvaldo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio,
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s been almost four weeks since my taking up this new position. And I was very sorry that it has taken me this long to welcome you and to host this reception, but you’ll all understand the reason why. For most of this time, I have been on the road, or preparing to be on the road, or following up after being on the road with my President’s visit to Washington D.C. and then last week to Germany and the G20.
So, in a way I regret this delay, but in another sense I’m happy that I’m able to meet with you having had that experience of traveling with the President on some of these bilateral summit level engagements. He is, I can tell you by witnessing up close, he is a top diplomat. He is a thoughtful interlocutor, he is a good listener, and he is able to nuance the messages depending on the partner that he is working with. So I am very impressed with the diplomat that we have in our President and I’m sure you will also watch it at some opportunity.
It’s been a very intensive schedule in Washington D.C., Germany as well as at the G20. Altogether I think he’s met about 10 presidents and prime ministers in a matter of seven days. And in addition to that, he met with the leaders of three international organizations. So the six months of absence of summit level diplomacy has been overcome - I can testify to that. And I am sure that the level of active diplomacy of the President himself will be maintained. And I will be certainly there to support him.
I’ve returned to the Foreign Ministry after 10 years of absence. It is wonderful to be seeing the old colleagues who are here to support me and new colleagues, the new generation that has brought new expectations and a new level of energy that I didn’t think there was here 10 years before. So it is my job to harness that new generation, that new level of expectation.
And this is at a time when the challenges on the diplomatic front are particularly daunting as you must know. We have an environment, a security and diplomatic environment, that is as grave as it has ever been. And meanwhile the expectations placed upon our Ministry by the people, by the President himself, and thanks to my being in the spotlight during the parliamentary hearing process, have brought the enhanced level of attention on and expectation of the Ministry. So the demands are tough and we need to find a way to live up to them, and of course we will be counting on each and every one of you to work with us here in Seoul, also through your capitals. And I hope that with each and every one of you, we will find an opportunity to build great bilateral relations but also multilateral dimensions that we have in various international organizations.
I’ve come with 10 years of seeing this country from the outside, at the United Nations. I think that gives me a unique advantage point of seeing Korea’s place in the global scheme of things. When you are in the country, yes of course you have the daily experiences, but when you are removed and you look at that country as one country in the global scheme of things, I think that there is something that comes with that observation that adds value that is unique, and that nurtures the diplomatic and foreign policy of a country and certainly that’s my big “plus” as I take up this daunting job leading the Foreign Ministry as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Korea has a unique profile on the international stage as a country that has the story we all know. It is unique in the sense that in a short period of time it has achieved both a democratically enlightened society and also economic growth. And it has a very unique story to tell the global audience, and also a lot more to contribute to the global community. I think we have a lot more to do in both regards – better tell our story through you, but also better contribute to the international community through you and with you. And that will be one of my hopeful priority areas as I takeover this new job and that is also the request coming from my President. But we cannot do any of this without you here working with us, and I count on every one of you about…to do that.
I have two specific requests, and that of course is with regard to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics which we will be hosting in PyeongChang. We very much want to make this a celebration of peace through sports, and we count on every one of you to bring in your delegations, bring in your leaders, to celebrate the sports as a tool to promote peace, which is more important on this Peninsula where a message of peace constantly needs to be nurtured.
The second request is also similar but much longer term - that is the 2023 World Scout Jamboree. We were campaigning very hard to win the right to host this. I am told the decision on this will be made in Azerbaijan very soon, and we hope that we can count on the support of those with the voting rights so we may be able to host this celebration of youth, youthful spirit.
Those are some of my rather unprepared remarks for you this evening, but that marks just a start for further engagements with you, and we have different issues depending upon different countries. I hope that I will be able to do, fully engage in all of them, all of the issues we need to discuss at various levels.
Thank you once again for coming. I am truly humbled and honored by this opportunity that my President has given to me and what my people expect of me. We can only do this with full support, of course, from the colleagues from the Ministry but you are primary interlocutors here. Thank you very much. /End/