By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with VC Cho Kyung-hee, Reporter Sung Jung-wook
The Korea Post recently interviewed Chairperson Flavia-Athena Kloos of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Association in Seoul (ASAS), who arrived in Korea in 2016. Mrs. Kloos is the spouse of the ambassador of Romania in Seoul.—Ed.
Question: As the new leader of the ASAS, please introduce yourself.
Answer: I became a member of the board of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Association in Seoul shortly after our arrival in 2016. At ASAS, I covered first the position of executive secretary, then vice president and in January this year I was elected president of the association.
Q: What are the main objectives of the ASAS? Please introduce the activities of the organization.
A: The main objectives of our association are to promote better understanding, support and friendship among the members and between ASAS members and the Korean society through various cultural, social and philanthropic activities.
This year, except for our monthly gatherings, we organized very many activities, ranging from visits to museums and medical centers, to lectures on various topics, make-up lessons etc. Mme Leila Rachadi, Vice President of ASAS and spouse of the ambassador of Morocco, even transformed her residence in a beauty-spa for one day in collaboration with a Korean firm and we received a lot of useful information about stem cell cosmetics and therapies and also received beauty and pain treatments. In spring we visited the beautiful Furniture Museum wearing hanbok and we celebrated together with our Korean friends and ladies from other associations the International Women's Day. In autumn we participated to the Red Cross Bazaar.
On October 17th, ASAS and Asan Medical Center organized a Global Healthcare Forum, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of AMC. Besides the lectures presented by Mme Amal Nosseir, spouse of the ambassador of Egypt, on health issues of women in Northern African countries and myself, on common emotional and behavioral difficulties of children and teenagers in a changing world, ASAS members organized a multicultural exhibition very much appreciated by the participants to the Forum.
Q: We understand that ASAS is engaged in various charity activities. Please introduce the main schedule for this year and next.
A: We couldn't organize this year our annual Charity Ball in May, because our Muslim members were in Ramadan, but April 9th we made a donation to Dream Hill Orphanage, offered gifts to the children hospitalized at the oncological ward of Seoul National University Hospital for Children Day and we continued our "International day" program, started 2017 with KDS, The beneficiary of our first Charity Ball.
Q: Who are most active in such activities?
A: All this was possible only with the help of the wonderful ladies of the board, Leila Rachadi (Morocco), Vice President, Malika Khadri (Tunisia), Project coordinator, Karen Sierra (Honduras), Executive secretary, Tran Thi Lan-Hinh (Vietnam), Treasurer, the event coordinators: Gabriella Blanco (Peru), Bazaar coordinator, Ayako Nagamine (Japan) KDS coordinator, Amal Nosseir (Egypt) ASAS&ASAN coordinator and of course, with the support of all the members of the association.
Q: What is the important schedule of ASAS?
A: For autumn we have already more scheduled events to come: the Global Costume Festival with Korean Culture Association, November 5th, the SIWA and diplomatic Bazaar, November 18th and a charity event with K-auction to help elderly, homeless people and to support young artists, starting November 27th. Next year on May 29th we will have our Charity Ball.
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail.
A: I was born in a multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious family, where I learned the lessons of tolerance and respect for differences, but also the ones about the importance of joy in life and of being together, not only in bad situations, for support, but also in pleasant ones, to have fun and to share happiness. In my family each and every situation could turn out into a reason to celebrate and be together. These lessons helped me a lot throughout my life, especially in my relationships, both personal and professional. I've always been very curious about everything and I've liked very much to study.
After taking my bachelor's degree at the German high school in Bucharest, I continued my studies at the University of Bucharest at the department for Foreign Languages and Literatures and specialized in German and English, then I studied Law and specialized in Criminal Procedures and then I went back to my first passion: psychology, finished my studies and specialized in psychotherapy. I studied both problem oriented and solution oriented types of therapy, but in the end I found that the solution oriented ones are more suited to my personality.
I started working as a touristic guide when I turned 18, during summer holidays, while in college, accompanying foreign tourists through Romania and continued doing it even after graduating and working as a teacher, because I loved to show people my country, to see the pleasure in their eyes when seeing the beautiful sceneries of nature or when sipping on a glass of good wine or tzuica, our national plum brandy. Except for that, being a guide gave me the opportunity to meet and work for so many happy people, as we generally are happier when on holidays.
Then, I moved to the "business world", learned a lot, this is also why I needed my studies in law, and again major changes occurred in my life and I took the opportunity to start my career as a psychotherapist. Before coming to Korea, I had to take maybe one of the most difficult decisions in my life.
I had opened my own study in Bucharest, which was the result of an immense quantity of energy and time invested into it, I had many satisfied clients, business was growing and then I had to decide if to give priority to my husband or my career.
It is funny, looking back, that I started working, by choosing to be a touristic guide, also because I liked to be surrounded by happy people and then, later in life, I was happy to have the possibility to choose a profession where you meet only people passing difficult times, suffering people and passionately assisting them in achieving a better quality of life and in regaining the ability to smile.
Even if I loved working as a psychotherapist, I don't regret my decision to follow my husband, and to start a new career: ambassador's wife. I received a good preparation for this "job" during the period that my husband was head of the protocol at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Romania. I made friends with many ambassadors' spouses and was a permanent guest to the meetings and activities of their association.
Even if it was a difficult decision to take to leave my work, I am definitely positive that I took the right decision. I love Seoul, I love the kind and hard working Korean people and it is an honor for me to help building a bridge between our so far-lying countries, between the hearts of the Romanian and the Korean people. Also, Korea is our only strategic partner in Asia and next year we celebrate 30 years of bilateral diplomatic relations.
Q: What are the main features of Romania, your country? Please introduce them fully.
A: The main export products of Romania are heavy industry and electrical equipment, but we also export to Korea cereals, like wheat and corn, sun flower, snacks, cookies, cosmetics and, of course, wines, which are more and more appreciated and requested by the Korean people.
At the Daejeon Wine Festival 2019 Romania won 19 Gold medals and 3 Silver medals: Budureasca 4 gold, Recas 4 gold and 2 silver, Cotnari 3 gold, HD wines 1 gold, Domeniile boieru 1 gold, Vinarte 1 gold, and Podgoriile Silvania 1 silver.
Romania participated recently to the K-Beauty fair at Kintex with two brands: Gerocossen, hair products and creams for both face and body and make-up products by Maria Pauna, a specialist in eyebrows.
Gerocossen is a continuator of the famous Gerovital, "the fountain of youth", invented by the Romanian biologist and physician, Ana Aslan, used in anti-ageing treatments and cosmetics, well-known also to Korean senior ladies. The "family line" of Gerocossen was highly appreciated by the visitors to the fair.
The eyebrow shaping and make-up by Maria Pauna was also interesting for the visitors and she is planning to come back to Seoul in the near future and give some courses.
In November this year, four Romanian companies participated at the beginning of November in the G-Fair at Kintex: Dr. Fursec with snacks and cookies, Alexandrion group with wine and liquors, Dragasani with wines, and Gusto with snacks. The annual volume of the economic exchange between Korea and Romania is around US$1 billion.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations in Romania?
A: In order to discover a country that they know little about and to present it to Korean people, as a new touristic destination, three reporters of a South Korean television, watched by 40 million people, went this year in August to Romania for a touristic documentary, a project supported by the Romanian Embassy in Seoul.
In about one month and a half of travelling, from east to west and north to south, and filming, the Korean Journalists saw a lot and were impressed by the Danube Delta , were surprised by the high mountains and the famous Bigar waterfall, but also by the cities they visited in the different regions of Romania, saying that they had the sensation of visiting five different countries not only one, as big the differencies between the cities seemed.
They were also surprised by the fact that Romania is a much safer country than expected. The reporters enjoyed so much their stay, food and the national plum brandy included, that they postponed 3 times their return.