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Korea, Republic of

Korea Time Zone UTC+09:00

 Capital City Seoul

 Currency South Korean won


National Day  01 March

박은하 공공외교 대사 인터뷰. 박현구 기자phko@heraldcorp.com/ 2017.04.25
Her Excellency Ms Enna Park
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
60 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6AJ
T: +44 (0)20 7227 5500/2
F: 020 7227 5503


THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA’S new Ambassador Enna Park is the country’s first female career diplomat to lead a major diplomatic mission abroad. On her arrival in London, the Ambassador says she has found London to be “a melting pot of different cultures, bringing together ‘the cream of the crop’ in all industries.” She comments: “the traditional and modern aspects of life mix so well here.”

From “a typical diplomatic family,” she explains they are “internationally scattered. Having retired from the UN, my husband is now a university professor in Korea. One son works in New York and the other in Hong Kong.  Of course, we look forward to the family reunion over Christmas in London.”

While studying, Mrs Park found herself frustrated by Korea’s modern history that constituted a series of tragedies. “In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, my country was torn apart by foreign powers. International relations played a major role in this process.” Realising “how important diplomacy was for our destiny,” she took the diplomatic examination, at a time when this was an unlikely choice for a woman. “However, I wanted to build a career instead of taking the traditional path for Korean women,” she recalls. “Now I have been a diplomat for 34 years, I hope to inspire young Korean women by breaking the glass ceiling, step by step.”

Quickly climbing the career ladder, Mrs Park served in New Delhi, Beijing and New York. Back home in Seoul, she assumed a wide range of positions over the years, including Protocol Officer in the President’s Office, during which time came the most memorable day of her career when she accompanied her then President, Kim Dae-Jung, to the first ever summit between North and South Korea. “I believe that his visit to Pyongyang in 2000 opened a new chapter of our history, and now it is time for the seed that he first sowed to be harvested. President Kim Dae-Jung’s efforts to achieve peace were recognised when he won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

As Public Diplomacy Ambassador  in 2017, Ms Park found herself with the major task of “winning hearts and minds. My role was to promote Korea’s image demonstrating all of its many charms, and that it is a country that can be trusted in international relations. This involved promoting both traditional and contemporary aspects of Korean culture, in particular K-food, K-pop and K-dance.” Furthermore, she was “heavily involved in policy dialogue with foreign think-tanks and media in order to facilitate a better understanding of Korea and our foreign policy. My role as Ambassador in the UK will similarly involve working to bring Korea closer to British people.”

The Ambassador also seeks “to upgrade bilateral relations between the UK and the ROK. Our relationship is based on our ally-like solidarity, which started with the UK’s participation in the Korean War, protecting the freedom of the Korean people. Korea is a relatively young democracy, but it is already a mature democracy, sharing common values with the UK. ROK is the eleventh largest economy in the world and so is economically an important partner for the UK.” She explains that there are plenty of common challenges to address, which the two countries are already working on: protecting global free trade, climate change, cyber security, co-operation on international development and other human rights issues, including sexual violence against women during conflict.

She concedes: “Brexit is a big challenge, but also provides the UK and South Korea with another opportunity to be more substantive and strategic partners. ROK has a comprehensive FTA with the EU, and we will have to have a separate arrangement with the UK, which will govern our trade relationship after Brexit. The UK and ROK can take this opportunity to upgrade our bilateral legal framework.”

Mrs Park also has the major priority of “mobilising and consolidating British support for the peace initiative on the Korean peninsula. We have embarked on a tough journey towards North Korea’s denuclearisation and a lasting peace. We remain committed even though it is not an easy journey, with many challenges.”  She’s clear that this remains her country’s greatest diplomatic challenge. “The North Korea discount is psychological: when people hear Korea, their first thought is the nuclear threat and the danger of war. This poses a real challenge to us because, unless we solve the problem, our security issues continue, providing great obstacles to our continued economic prosperity.” She reflects: “Lasting peace is not only a longstanding aspiration of the Korean people, but also a common goal of the international community.”


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