EU ambassador talented in music and diplomacyThe European Union ambassador to Korea, Dorian Prince, seems unafraid of a worthy challenge. Welsh-born Mr. Prince speaks 17 languages including English, French, Greek, Latin, Italian and Korean, and is a musician as well as a diplomat.
During the “Europe Day Concert” today, hosted by the European Commission delegation in Korea to celebrate Europe Day tomorrow, Mr. Prince will play the music of Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Matthias and Beethoven on organ and piano.
The other musician featured in the concert will be violinist Choi Han-won, a music professor at Ewha Womans University.
When the JoongAng Daily caught up with Mr. Prince at his office in northern Seoul’s Gwanghwamun area, he spoke vibrantly in English, while emphasizing key words in Korean and even French.
When asked why he chose the path of diplomacy, the ambassador answered, “After university, I was working in a private company. Then I saw an advert in the Financial Times about a competition. I thought I’d give it a try.”
This “competition” led Mr. Prince to join the European Commission in 1981.
Mr. Prince was 9 when he started playing the piano and 15 when he started the organ. His love of music took determination on his part to develop, as his parents “regarded my interest in the piano as a passing phase, as just another one of those ideas that children have,” he said.
While attending Oxford University to study French, German and Economics, Mr. Prince met John Webster, a noted organ player, who contacted the Welsh educational authorities to obtain free music lessons for him.
“Back then, the education system was much more flexible, and students like me, who had little money, were more likely to get opportunities for education.”
He continued to feed his passion for the organ at the Trinity College of Music in London, under the guidance of Geoffrey Hanson, and in Paris, with Olivier Messiaen.
While working at the European Commission in Brussels from 1981 to 2002, he had an active musical life as a pianist participating in many recitals and the official organist at three different churches.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without the organ,” he said.
However, when asked which he would choose between diplomacy and music, Mr. Prince answered, “Diplomacy,” unhesitantly, explaining that he treasures the opportunity to deal with a country’s social, economic and cultural aspects.
At the moment, he said, the relationship between Korea and the EU faces two key issues; trade and North Korea.
Mr. Prince continued, “EU investment can be two to three times higher in Korea. Compared to Singapore and Shanghai, Korea is losing out.”
He also talked about the need for North Korea to “come out of their isolation” and the importance of the six-party talks, as well as denuclearization of the North.
Mr. Prince’s four-year term, which began in September 2002, ends this summer. He smiled faintly as he said he thinks he will feel the gravity of his time in Korea most after he leaves the country.
by Cho Jae-eun
The “Europe Day Concert” will be held today at Choi Yang Up Hall in Jungnim-dong, northern Seoul,. The nearest subway station is Chungjeongno, lines No. 2 and 5, exit 5. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 583-6295 or visit www.delkor.cec.eu.int.