Germany to improve Korean links

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Germany to improve Korean links

Norbert Baas arrived in Seoul as Germany’s ambassador to Korea two months ago. Since then he has been frantic, attending various functions including meetings with prominent government officials.

His goal is to strengthen the economic partnership between German and Korea and to increase cultural exchanges between the two countries at a time when Asia’s importance has been growing in Europe.
“As a major player in Asia, Korea has become an important strategic ally for Germany as the trade volume between the two countries has expanded,” Mr. Baas said.
The ambassador said Korea has turned out to be a highly developed market economy. He hopes Germany will have a strong partnership with Korea in the future development of high technology, life sciences and electronics.
In addition the German ambassador said that he was impressed by how well German companies are represented in Korea.
“We are reaching $20 billion in trade and growing,” he said.
For the new ambassador, this is his first visit to Korea. His initial impression over the last two months has been positive.
“I like the people,” he said. “Many Koreans seem to have the talent to unite opposing features; one minute they are businesslike, the next very emotional.”
The German ambassador added that he has been impressed by the intellectual achievements of Koreans and their strong desire to achieve goals.
“Korea is fascinating in the sense that two different religions ― Christianity and Buddhism ― co-exist peacefully,” Mr. Bass said. “The world, which has too many religious clashes, should seek to learn from Korea’s experience.”
In tourism Mr. Bass believes Korea has considerable room for expansion and development. Germans could explore Korea for leisure and cultural tourism.
To achieve his goals Mr. Baas has instructed the embassy to work more closely with the Goethe Institute. The ambassador said the German embassy is planning to promote a film festival during the first half of next year.
Mr. Baas is surprised that some Koreans still think Germans fit their stereotype and are all punctual, orderly and hard-working.
“We are quite an imaginative country, really, and our people have a lot of individuality.”
The ambassador stressed that the young generations of both countries should get to know each other better, which will hopefully lead to stronger partnership and understanding.
On a personal note, Mr. Baas said he is enjoying his stay in Korea.
“I’ve been quite active in exploring Seoul by hiking up mountains and visiting museums or galleries in the last two months,” said Mr. Baas.
“During the weekends my wife and my two daughters often walk with our dachshund.”
The German ambassador, although modest about his talent, said he plays a few notes on the piano. He also rides horses and plays golf and he likes to ski and go sailing.
“Korea and Germany have many similarities and we have both overcome the adverse effects of major wars,” the ambassador said. “The relationship between the two countries is fresh and free of complication. Together the two countries should be able to build a stronger and healthier relationship.”
Prior to being assigned to Seoul this year Mr. Baas served at the German embassies in Baghdad and Moscow.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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