On Thursday October 3, 12:00pm, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea celebrated its National Foundation Day and the 65th Armed Forces Day with a reception at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
This year’s reception, commemorating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada and the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, was attended by 350 guests including Chief of Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces, General Thomas Lawson among many distinguished guests representing the Government of Canada, diplomatic community, members of parliament, academic, business communities, and the Korean-Canadian communities across Canada.
The reception started off with a special performance by the Canterbury High School Choir performing the Canadian folk song “J’entends le Moulin” and the widely-known Korean folk song “Arirang” in a demonstration of the close friendship between Korea and Canada. The Canterbury Choir, who also performed at the “Korea Week” proclamation ceremony back in June, sang the two national anthems with impeccable pronunciation and talent which signaled a hopeful future for Korea-Canada relations through such cultural exchanges.
In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Canada, His Excellency Cho Hee-yong, gave thanks to all those in attendance for taking part in the commemoration of the “Year of Korea” in Canada and the “Year of the Korean War”. Ambassador Cho said that Korea has “the potential to reach new heights and open to collaborate with partners from every corner of the world to create new opportunities for all” and specifically highlighted the growing ‘Special Partnership’ between Korea and Canada based on shared history, common values, robust trade, and close people-to-people connections including the 230,000 Koreans making enormous contributions among the Canadian society.
In honouring the Korean War Veterans, Ambassador Cho shared an anecdote from his encounter with a Korean War Veteran whose granddaughter now lives in Korea as an English-teacher. Instead of her weak grandfather who is no longer able to travel far, she visits the UN Cemetery in Busan frequently to pay respects to her grandfather’s fallen comrades. Ambassador Cho, deeply touched by this story, was visibly encouraged to see the memory of the Veterans being passed down to generations and the continuing of the friendship forged in blood, sweat, and tears.
The Guest of Honour, Chief of Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces, General Thomas Lawson gave a brief speech followed by a toast marking the National Foundation Day and the Armed Forces Day. General Lawson said that “those of us in uniform know how important it is to remember our past and our military history to honour those who have gone before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and peace we appreciate today” and that the Canadian Forces are “forever committed to upholding the honour of [the Veterans’] triumphs and achievements”. General Lawson assured the crowd that the values of selfless dedication and peace, security, stability remain just as strong today even after 60 years since the signing of the Armstice. General Lawson closed his speech with a toast commemorating the occasion by shouting the Korean word for ‘cheers’: Gun-bae!
The Korean National Tourism Organization gave the guests a memory to remember by having them try on the Korean traditional clothing, Hanbok.