Thanks to the Korean embassy, I had the honour of participating in the Conference centre where the Korean and Canadian Prime Ministers gave speeches in celebration of the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
It was a high profile event, attended by the Prime Ministers of each coutry, Chief Justice of Canada and many Senators and MPs.
Both countries recognized the long-standing bilateral relationship, dating back to the early 1900s when missionaries from Canada made their way into Korea. The highlight of the night were the Canadian veterans of the Korean War, who are living witnesses of this deep relationship. Their presence also served to remind us of the robust and rapid economic growth of South Korea (only 60 years since the Korean War), which Prime Minister Harper emphasized in comparison to that of North Korea.
Interestingly, both Prime Ministers also commented on Korea-Canada FTA negotiations. The negotiations were initiated in 2005, but there were no further discussions after the 13th round in 2008 (according to the DFAIT website at http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/korea-coree/index.aspx?view=d). There were speculations on the resumption of trade talk ealier this year, following the resolution of one of the issues (see DFAIT news release at http://www.international.gc.ca/media_commerce/comm/news-communiques/2012/06/18a.aspx?view=d); however no formal announcement to this effect had been made, until tonight.
Congratulations to both countries on the milestone and sincerely wish the best for the future nourishment of this relationship.
(I will resume my regular blog this weekend)