2013 is a special year for both Korea and Canada to celebrate two things : the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations and the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. As well, the Canadian government announced it as the “Year of Korea” and will declare the upcoming July 27 as “Korea Day”, in addition to Veterans Affairs Canada designating 2013 as the “Year of the Korean War Veteran”. In light of these, Ambassador of the republic of Korea to Canada, His Excellency Cho Hee-yong’s first visit to Calgary was quite meaningful.
Ambassador Cho attended the Rotary club function at the Fairmont hotel in downtown Calgary on June 11 and delivered a speech on the past, present and future of bilateral relations between Korea and Canada. The Ambassador appreciated the long and constructive engagement of Canadians to the Korean peninsula. As a result, Korea became a full-fledged democracy, the 19th largest donor country of development aid, the world’s 15th largest economy and member of the G20, the 9th country of the so-called “$1 trillion trade club”, a proud member of 20-50 club and one of the top 40 contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. He expressed Korea’s deep appreciation following World War II that Canada participated in the joint supervision of the elections in South Korea undertaken by the United Nations Commission in 1947. A total of 26,791 Canadian troops participated in the Korean War (1950-1953), sustaining the loss of 516 Canadian lives. The Ambassador also described the “special partnership” between our two countries via recent high-level visits, strong support of policy concerning North Korea, becoming ideal and important economic partners, people-to-people linkage, academic ties and like-minded allies in multilateral forums with shared values. And he also asked the Rotary club members to help strengthen productive and strategic cooperation between two countries in the future as a Canadian leaders group active in various fields.
The Ambassador shared that the Government of Saskatchewan recently told he and his wife, who always serve Canadian beef to their guests, that their beef was superior to Albertan beef, which raised chuckles of disbelief in this Calgary audience. His approach is that Korea views all parts of Canada in friendship, and he hopes that the ongoing free trade negotiations will soon result in closer trade ties.
Addressing a question about South Korea’s powerful and difficult neighbor, North Korea, the Ambassador noted that the Republic of Korea’s approach to it’s brothers and sisters to the north is two-fold. Military provocation by the North will not be tolerated, however the Republic of Korea strives for national reconciliation along a peaceful and reasonable path. Noting from history that Korea achieved national unity in 676 AD and enjoyed 14 centuries of achievement and prosperity, the Korean people take a long-sighted view of the past 60 years of division, and are confident and optimistic that reconciliation and reunification will occur and return the peninsula to the unified state which has been the historical norm.
To wrap up the lunch function, Terry MacMahon thanked the Ambassador for his appearance before the Rotary Club, and presented him with a CAWST certificate of appreciation on behalf of the club.