Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Canada, His Excellency Cho hee-yong spoke at the University of Calgary on June 11, 2013 in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Korean-Canadian Diplomatic Relations.
Ambassador Cho delivered a special lecture on the past, present and future of bilateral relations between Korea and Canada. Our two countries started their relations over a century ago, even before diplomatic relations, starting with about 200 Canadian missionaries since 1888. They brought significant cultural, scientific, medical, and social contributions to Korea, which helped modernize the country. As well, following World War II, 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. And Korea and Canada have long enjoyed a “special relationship” grounded in their strong political and economic partnership and cooperation via high level visits and strong support of policy concerning North Korea, becoming ideal and important economic partners and like-minded allies in multilateral forums with shared values. As well Korea is not only Canada’s 7th largest merchandise trading partner but also an investor in its energy sector with $11 billion (as of the end of 2012) invested in partnerships (Korea Gas Corp. and Encana, $565 million) and direct investment (Korea National Oil Corp. and Harvest Energy Trust, $4.1 billion), predominantly in Alberta. Hoping a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries concludes in the near future, Ambassador Cho also mentioned increasing people-to-people exchanges in many ways : immigrants (over 23,000 Canadians in Korea, over 230,000 Koreans in Canada), students (Koreans are the 3rd largest overseas student population in Canada, 25,000 students strong), teachers (more than 100,000 Canadians have taught in Korea), sister province and city relationships (Alberta-Gangwon, Calgary-Daejeon, Edmonton-Wonju) and tourism.
Referring to the recent “Hallyu” phenomenon with Psy’s “Gangnam Style”, Ambassador Cho expressed his conviction that the special relationship between Korea and Canada should be continued. After the lecture, Ambassador Cho had a Q&A session with the audience about dual citizenship, Canadian beef imports, the impact of Korean military service on Korean students in Canada, Korea’s oil sands import prospects, and other related topics. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed snacks and refreshments and a more informal ‘meet and greet’ in which the Ambassador and his wife exchanged words and took pictures with the guests. The Korean movie “Masquerade (광해, 왕이 된 남자)” was shown to finish the night by allowing the audience to experience Korean culture.