Outgoing ambassador stands back for ‘Kong’

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Outgoing ambassador stands back for ‘Kong’

New Zealand’s outgoing ambassador chose an appropriately subdued way to say goodbye. He simply invited a few thousand friends to watch “King Kong” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” both made by directors from the South Pacific country.
Seoul’s diplomatic community had the chance to see these movies with Ambassador to Seoul David Taylor. On Jan. 15, Ambassador Taylor and his family return home, bringing to a close the envoy’s three and a half years of service in Korea.
At a reception, the ambassador busily said his goodbyes. Eschewing the fancy, catered hotel ballrooms that typically host such events, Ambassador Taylor instead opted for the Dansungsa movie theater near Insa-dong. Speaking without a script or a podium, he said, “Earlier today someone asked me, ‘What’s the worst thing about Korea?’ I said, ‘Leaving’.”
The ambassador’s gregarious reputation is borne out by his guest list, or rather, lists. “We have so many good friends here we had to split the invitations,” he said, with one group getting together last month to watch “Kong” and another on Thursday to see “Narnia.” Among those present on the latter occasion were the ambassadors of Hungary, Canada, Chile and Finland, as well as leaders from such businesses as the Doosan Group and the Korea Times.
The ambassador’s family was also in attendance. “I’m very sad to go, but we do live in a beautiful country and it’s good to be going back,” said Mrs. Taylor, appropriately surrounded by Tourism New Zealand banners depicting pristine lakes and snow-capped peaks.
The couple has two children, Hanna, 14, and Georgia, 12, who lived in Korea with them. Asked whether she was glad to go home, Hanna answered succinctly, “Kind of, kind of not.”
Mr. Taylor took the opportunity to congratulate Sonia Hong, a Tourism New Zealand representative who was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the New Year’s Honors for 2006, the second Korean to earn that honor. About 118,000 Koreans visited the country last year.
“King Kong was fabulous. And to think that every part of that film was made in New Zealand, even when it’s set on the ship and in New York.”


by Ben Applegate
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