Australia and Korea fete 50 years of ties and friendship
The Australian Embassy in Seoul celebrated the 50th anniversary of a diplomatic relationship between Australia and Korea, dubbed the “Australia-Korea Year of Friendship,” at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Wednesday, with roughly 2,000 participants including high-profile government officials, celebrities, and foreign officials.
In a congratulatory speech, Australian Ambassador Sam Gerovich described the Year of Friendship and his desire to deepen ties with Korea in the future.
“In March 2009, when President Lee Myung-bak last visited Australia, the Australian and Korean Governments agreed to mark this milestone by designating 2011 as the ‘Australia-Korea Year of Friendship,’ ” the ambassador said.
“The Year of Friendship is aimed to underline the achievements of diplomatic ties between Korea and Australia, and increase public awareness of the bilateral relationship over the past 50 years.”
The ambassador said the official diplomatic ties were established in 1961, but the first interaction between the two countries started in 1889 when Australian missionaries paid a visit to Busan and Masan, South Gyeongsang. During the 1950-1953 Korean War, 17,164 Australian soldiers were dispatched and 339 died in Korea; 281 are buried in the U.N. Memorial Park in Busan.
“Over the past 50 years, Australia and Korea have built a close and firmly-based partnership,” he said. “Korea is, for example, Australia’s third-largest merchandise export market, with our two larger markets, China and Japan, having much larger populations. Korea is also the third largest source of international students in Australia behind only China and India. Around 35,000 Korean students studied in Australia last year. Korean tourists are also very important to the Australian economy.
“We also share with Korea a broad range of common security and diplomatic interests and challenges,” he continued. “We have a vested national stake in continuing peace and stability of the region, including here on the Korean Peninsula.”
After the ambassador’s speech, the National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae and First Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Mo Chul-min delivered speeches. Korean actor Park Keun-hyong and actress Kong Hyo-jin were officially appointed as Australian Goodwill Ambassadors.
Starting with a performance by “Consonant Ensemble,” a group comprised of four female Korean migrants who flew in from Sydney, a variety of performances entertained the attendees.
David Palmer, chairman of the Australia-Korea Foundation, expressed his hope for enhanced trade with Korea in the beef market.
“Australian beef is very important to the Korean economy,” he said. “We think Australian beef adds a complementary role to help provide a critical mass of beef protein to 45 million Korean consumers.”
At a press conference held at the Plaza Hotel, central Seoul, on Jan.19, the Australian ambassador said he hoped the Australian and Korean governments will sign a Free Trade Agreement within this year.
“Although some sensitive issues still remain in the agriculture sector, I hope bilateral relations in trade will be developed by signing a Free Trade Agreement,” the ambassador said.
When it comes to cooperation with Korea in green energy policies, the embassy said research centers in Australia and Korea that study carbon capture and sequestration projects are expected to work together at the academic level.
Australian climate change activist and paleontologist Tim Flannery will visit Seoul to talk about environmental issues this year.
The embassy also said that two Australian Nobel Prize winners, Peter Charles Doherty and Barry James Marshall, will visit Korea this year to give talks.
The embassy has started a Web site (http://australiakorea50.com) to publicize events related to the Year of Friendship and also has an application for iPhone users.
*Interns Joni Sham and Philip Chan contributed to this report.
By Kim Hee-jin [email@example.com]
Related Korean Article [중앙일보]
“한·호주 FTA 윈-윈의 길 있어 … 올해 마무리 희망”
한국과 수교 50주년 호주 샘 게러비츠 대사 인터뷰
호주는 혈맹인 한국의 대북정책 등을 전적으로 지지해 왔으며 앞으로도 지지할 것입니다.”
샘 게러비츠(사진) 주한 호주대사는 26일 한국과 호주의 수교 50주년을 맞아 가진 인터뷰에서 양국의 특별한 인연을 강조했다. 주한 호주 대사관은 올해를 한국·호주 우정의 해로 정하고 호주의 건국 기념일인 이날 서울 한남동 하얏트 호텔에서 ‘호주의 날’ 행사를 가졌다.
게러비츠 대사는 “한국과 호주는 국제 사회에서 중간 정도의 국력을 갖고 있고, 미국과 동맹을 맺고 있으며, 민주주의와 시장경제 체제 국가라는 공통점이 있다”고 말했다. 강대국 사이에서 한국과 호주가 제목소리를 내기 위해서는 서로의 공통 관심사에 기반한 연대가 필요하다는 설명이다.
그는 “한·호주 외교관계는 1961년 시작됐지만 호주 선교사가 1889년 한국에 발을 들여놨다는 걸 고려하면 양국 관계는 122년 전으로 거슬러 올라간다”며 “1950년 한국전쟁 때는 호주 군인 1만7000명이 참전해 340명이 숨졌으며, 이 중 281명은 부산 유엔묘지에 묻혀 있다”고 했다. 호주는 지난해 3월 천안함 폭침 사건 때 사건 원인 규명을 위한 국제조사단에 합류해 북한의 소행이라는 결론을 도출하는 데 동참했다. 북한 대사를 겸직하고 있는 그는 “북한을 방문할 때마다 당국자들에게 비핵화와 인권 보호, 한국과의 관계 개선 등을 촉구해 왔다”고 말했다. …