NATIONAL DAY MESSAGE: New Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Enna Park
New Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Enna Park discusses denuclearisation, K-Pop and being the eleventh largest economy in the world
It was my great honour to welcome guests to our National Day reception at the Royal Lancaster London hotel on 8 October, celebrating the foundation of Korea that dates back 4,351 years. I was delighted to see so many friends of Korea and fellow Koreans gathered at the celebration.
I seized the opportunity to greet guests as the new Ambassador of the Republic of Korea(ROK) to the UK. Since I arrived in London, many people have said: “Ambassador, you arrived at a very interesting time.” Yes. It is an interesting time, as well as a critical time on both the Korean Peninsula and in the UK.
Korea has an almost 5,000 year-long proud history, but we had to rebuild our economy and socio-political structures from the ashes of the Korean War. Now we proudly represent an unprecedented success case, in which the country has achieved both economic development and political democracy within just a couple of generations.
As such, the ROK is a relatively young, but at the same time mature democracy. The ROK is also at the forefront of IT technology and free trade, with the eleventh largest economy in the world. Our leading companies, such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia, as well as our numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises, are at the creative cutting-edge, making household-name quality goods, investing and creating jobs across the globe.
The ROK was once a country on the receiving end of development aid, but now we are one of the active donors with the second largest number of volunteers in the field of development cooperation around the world.
Our contribution to the international community does not stop there. As The Beatles once did, Korean pop culture is on the way to conquer the world. Our world-famous K-pop boy band, BTS has taken 22 of the top 25 positions on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart. The number of their posts on Twitter being ‘liked’ or retweeted exceeded those of President Trump and Justin Bieber combined. BTS performed at the O2 Arena in London on the evenings that followed our reception, and tickets were completely sold out within minutes. As our generation grew up with the music of The Beatles, your teenagers may be avid fans of BTS.
We are so proud of such achievements, but still we live under a nuclear threat and the fear of war. We believe that the Korean people have a right to live on a peaceful peninsula. It is the simple but solid reason why President Moon and the Korean people embarked on a courageous journey towards peace in an effort to open another new chapter of our history.
In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the positive developments over the course of the past 12 months.
Today, the latest of these developments is the US Secretary of State Mr Pompeo’s visit to Pyeongyang, which yields the second US-North Korean Summit. And we are hopeful in expecting to see more substantial progress in terms of denuclearisation and trust-building.
There have been ups and downs in the negotiating process. However, we knew from the outset that this would be a challenging journey. After all, it is about overcoming 70 years of animosity and deeply embedded mutual mistrust, and dismantling advanced and sophisticated nuclear/missile programmes and weapons.
We need to change the context and start to build trust. We believe that we should not let the precious momentum, which we have struggled so hard to get moving, dissipate.
The UKis a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an opinion leader of the international community with a body of brilliant expertise and knowledge, as well as far-reaching, respected media outlets. With these assets, the UK is in a position to play a guardian role for the peaceful and rules-based international order. The UK is also a close friend and allied partner of Korea in numerous areas. Our solidarity stems from the courage and sacrifice made during the Korean War saving the freedom of the Korean People, which we Korean people never forget. I’d like to express deep appreciation to Korean War veterans, many of whom joined us at the reception.
The UK’s diplomatic relations with North Koreaenable it to continuously send the right signal and strong message to Pyongyang, that if North Korea takes the right path of denuclearisation, a bright future awaits.
Furthermore, as the right conditions develop, according to the progress achieved in denuclearisation, the UK can play a prominent role in helping North Korea down the road with its expertise and experience in development cooperation. In this regard, I would like to ask for your continued support for our peace initiative.
I was delighted to find on my arrival that the British Korea Society (BKS) is run by a small but enthusiastic group of volunteers who love Korea, including Chairman Martin Uden, the former Ambassador to Korea. We very much value the role BKS plays and its activities in raising awareness about Korea in the UK and generating friendship and partnership between our two peoples. The society stages numerous events each year, including an annual reception in the Houses of Parliament.
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the re-establishment of our diplomatic relations as well as the 20th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s state visit to Korea.
Moreover, the year 2019 will be the year that the UK leaves the EU and embarks on a new journey. The ROK has faith in the vision and abilities of the leadership of the UK, and in their aim to create a strong Global Britain.
In this regard, I am intrigued to find out what the future has in store for our bilateral relations, because while we should be proud of our achievements to date, we know that our relationship can grow ever stronger in the years ahead.
I believe what we strive to achieve in the spirit of true partnership – in political and economic affairs as well as in areas of culture, energy, science, education and global issues such as climate change, cyber security and human rights including preventing sexual violence in conflict – really matters to all of us. I hope to be at the forefront of expanding and deepening these important bonds and collaborations, as well as people-to-people ties. To this end, I would like to ask for your unwavering and wholehearted support.
With this in mind, would you please join me in a toast to the everlasting friendship between the ROK and the UK and to a new future? Thank you.