Republic of Korea National Day
Ambassador Yeon Ho Choi hosted a reception to celebrate the Republic of Korea's National Day and Armed Forces Day. He is pictured with Ms Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, Minister of Transport of South Africa.
Children from Ramokoka, North West, performed Taekwondo and sang the national anthems of the two two countries. About 20 years ago, a Korean NGO established community development projects in Ramokoka, a remote, rural village in the North West Province. In addition to its initiatives in education and skills development, the NGO’s Taekwondo training has seen 9 children from Ramokoka selected as members of South Africa’s national Taekwondo team.
Speaking about trade Ambassador Yeon Hoi Choi said, "Despite the challenging landscape in the global economy, our countries’ two-way trade volumes totaled US$ 2.7 billion last year, as well as Korean companies’ increased involvement in South Africa’s socio-economic development."
Looking forward to 2017 Ambassador Yeon Ho Choi said, "Next year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and South Africa, which will take our bilateral relations to another dimension. Building upon the experiences and outcomes achieved so far, we will spare no efforts to further strengthen the friendship and ties between our two countries."
Welcoming address by H.E. Ambassador Yeon Ho Choi at the National Day and Armed Forces Day reception
3 October 2016
Your Excellency Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, Minister of Transport, our guest speaker and chief representative of the South African government, Cllr Cilliers Brink, Acting Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Her Excellency Gwendoline Lindiwe Nkabinde, former Minister of Public Works, His Excellency Ambassador Anil Sooklal, DDG of Branch Asia & The Middle East, His Excellency Ambassador Manelisi Genge, Chief Director of Branch Asia and the Middle East, His Excellency Ambassador Bene M’Poko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Ambassador Tian Xuejun, Dean of the Asian Group and Ms. Louise Graham, Chief Director, Department of Arts and Culture
Ambassadors and High Commissioners, members of the diplomatic corps, honourable Korean War Veterans and their families, other distinguished representatives from the South African government, the City of Tshwane, members of the military attaché and advisor corps, distinguished guests, my dear Korean compatriots, ladies and gentlemen.
To every one of you, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for joining me today to celebrate the National Foundation Day and Korean Armed Forces Day of the Republic of Korea.
This is the second national day reception I am hosting in South Africa and I am honoured to have an opportunity to reflect on my life in this “Rainbow Nation” over the past year.
I came to South Africa in December 2014, and so far I have been fascinated by the beautiful landscape, pleasant climate, excellent wine and diverse cultures indigenous to this country. Above all, I have been fortunate to meet South African people who are hospitable and supportive of our embassy’s endeavors. In this regard, I would like to thank our South African friends present and special thanks to Ms. Tumi Leshabane, who participated in this year’s Korean Essay Contest and also in our national day reception today, as the Programme Director.
In addition, today we have special participants - children from Ramokoka, North West - demonstrating a wonderful Taekwondo performance and singing the national anthems of our two countries. I believe the presence of these children today is testimony to the growing friendship between our two countries, and I would like to share an inspiring story about them.
About 20 years ago, a Korean NGO established community development projects in Ramokoka, a remote, rural village in the North West Province. In addition to its initiatives in education and skills development, the NGO’s Taekwondo training has seen 9 children from Ramokoka selected as members of South Africa’s national Taekwondo team. Several are employed by Standard Bank and Samsung - a kind of miracle in a small rural village no one ever imagined! This NGO has inspired many youth in the area to pursue their dreams and better the future for themselves and their community, serving as a bridge between our two countries.
In addition to the children from Ramokoka, our two countries have yielded many positive outcomes that will elevate our bilateral relations through engagements in multiple fields of development.
Last May, Korean President Park Geun-hye visited Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, maintaining the momentum of growing relations between Korea and Africa. This December, the 4th Korea-Africa Forum will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where ways will be discussed to further improve relations between Korea and Africa. And I am convinced that South Africa’s position as a continental leader will allow the Forum to foster relations between our two countries in relation to the African continent.
Exchanges of high-level visits between our two countries have also continued - especially parliamentary exchanges. Last March, His Excellency Chung Ui Hwa, Speaker of the National Assembly, paid a visit to South Africa, which yielded fruitful outcomes. And today’s guest of honour Her Excellency Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, Minister of Transport, visited Korea last November. Building on these high-level visits, the 1st Ministerial-Level Joint Committee Meeting between the two countries is expected to be held early next year, paving the way for to further enhance our bilateral relations.
Despite the challenging landscape in the global economy, our countries’ two-way trade volumes totaled US$ 2.7 billion last year, as well as Korean companies’ increased involvement in South Africa’s socio-economic development.
On the cultural dimension, the embassy’s successful hosting of the 2016 Korea Week last August allowed many cultural and academic engagements between our countries. We are deeply grateful that many South Africans from all walks of life joined us in those events. With this as a momentum, we will host other cultural events such as a Korean Film & Food Festival on 22 October here in Pretoria and a K-pop Festival on 3 December in Cape Town, thus continuing our efforts to reach the hearts of South Africans.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, throughout this year, North Korea has continued to threaten peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the world. I would like to take this opportunity to express special thanks to the South African government for joining the international community in expressing concern over North Korea’s continued provocations. Our efforts to deter North Korea’s threats to international peace and security will continue in bilateral and multilateral arenas.
Before I conclude, I would like to mention that in January this year, our embassy made a fresh start by moving to a brand new chancery on its own premises. I am confident that the new chancery building is another symbol of our enhanced bilateral relations, ushering in a brighter future for our two countries.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and South Africa, which will take our bilateral relations to another dimension. Building upon the experiences and outcomes achieved so far, we will spare no efforts to further strengthen the friendship and ties between our two countries.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me finish by proposing a toast to the everlasting friendship and prosperity of our two countries and to the continued good health of His Excellency President Jacob Zuma and Her Excellency President Park Geun-hye.