중앙데일리

Land Down Under sends its very best to the top

Jan 29,2007
William Barton creates the sounds of Australia on his didgeridoo. Barton played at the Australia National Day celebration Thursday, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul.
It’s not every day that you can sample fine wines, go surfing at the beach, watch a fashion show, play golf, have your caricature drawn and enjoy live jazz, all in the same room. Let alone find Korean government and business VIPs rubbing elbows with lifeguards, a country-singing whip-slinger and a blond, six-foot-five female basketball player. But then again, not every day is Australian National Day. Last Thursday was, though, and you could do all of the above at Seoul’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The Australian Embassy pulled out all the stops for this year’s National Day celebrations, the culmination of three days of events, and the cream of local and foreign Korean society turned out in force. The cameras flashed and the drinks flowed as the embassy displayed the “Many Faces of Australia,” the theme of the party. All of the many desirable aspects of Australian culture were on display, from the succulent beef and lamb and the picturesque landscape to the art and achievements in science and innovation. Stacks of meats and cheeses, piles of pies and cakes, and even spreads of sushi filled the tables while Korean women in Australian park ranger garb greeted guests.
Lauren Jackson, an Australian basketball player who is currently playing for the Korean women’s league, cut an impressive figure in the crowd, standing head and shoulders above most of the people there. She chose to play in South Korea over Russia, having decided to leave Australia.
The difference between her height and that of the average Korean makes no difference to her, however. “I’m oblivious to standing out. I’ve stood out all my life. The people here have been so nice, and made such an effort to help me feel at home.”
Strong ties with South Korea are increasingly important for Australia as the political situation in northeast Asia becomes a focal point in international relations. “Korea is in one of the most important areas for Australian security,” said Australian Ambassador Peter Rowe. “If things were to go bad here, it would be a catastrophe for Australia.”
Many would be surprised to learn that South Korea is Australia’s third largest trading partner in merchandise, with over $13 billion in trade last year and rapidly expanding dealings in services and investment.
This close relationship is especially impressive when one compares the statistics of the two countries. Australia’s land mass is over 77 times as large as that of South Korea. The latter has 484 people per square kilometer compared to the former’s 2.5. Somewhat ironically, Korea has 14 women ranked in the world’s top 50 in golf, compared to Australia’s one. Korea’s kangaroo population does lag behind, however, standing at 20. Australia has 58 million.


By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Writer[richard@joongang.co.kr]


dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장