President Park Geun-hye takes strong interest in the promotion of cultural exchange between Korea and all the countries of the world, especially those in Asia and Europe including the countries on the Silk Road. Against this backdrop, President Park had been scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Festival on Aug. 21, 2015, which, however, did not materialize due to the mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula at the time due to military provocations caused by the North Korean regime while a high-level inter-Korean negotiations were in progress at Panmunjom.
On behalf of the President, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn attended the opening ceremony of the Festival held at the Baekgyeol Performance Facility at the Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park in the Gyeongju City together with the leaders of the region and the central government society, including Governor Kim Kwan-yong of Gyeongsangbuk-do, Mayor Choi Yang-sik of Gyeongju City, National Assemblyman Chung Soo-sung, Vice Minister Park Min-kwon of Culture, Sports & Tourism, Ambassador Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman (dean of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps) and a good number of overseas local government leaders and culture- and education-related central government ministers and other ranking officials.
Prime Minister Hwang shook hands with each of the ambassadors and other senior members of the Diplomatic Corps attending the opening ceremony and also the dignitaries from Korea and an estimated total of over 40 other countries.
Speaking to an upwards of 1,800 guests at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Hwang said, “President Park Geun-hye proposed a Euro-Asian Initiatives in 2013 for the promotion of peace and co-prosperity of all the peoples in Europe and Asia and it was aimed at turning Europe and Asia into one large continent and promote cooperation among all the countries in the continent through the network of transportation and energy, which will contribute to the promotion of peace in the whole world.” (See excerpts toward the end of this Article.)
The opening ceremony started with various colorful performances by music-dance troupes from Korea and a number of other countries, including Korean Royal Brass Band Chwitadae and the Mehteran Army Band of Turkey (Ottoman Turkish Army Band).
Among the highlights of the congratulatory performances was the famed ‘Silla Buddhist Monk Hyecho’s Pilgrimage to the Five Kingdoms of India and the Central Asian countries (Wang Ocheonchukguk Jeon)’ entitled ‘Road, Encounter and Comparison.’
Then there were performances of ‘Encounter of Silk Road Civilization (Globalization),’ ‘Crisis of the Civilization,’ ‘Wish: One Road, One Dream,’ and ‘Echo of Harmony.’
In his opening address, Governor Kim Kwan-yong said, “The Silk Road Culture is not only an important historical cultural legacy of the past but also more importantly the cultural asset of the future.” Then he said that there are so many tales and circumstances involved in and associated with the Silk Road, and called for a march toward a world of communication and co-existence instead of conflict and disputes and to the future through the medium of the Silk Road.
The 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Festival was declared open by Mayor Choi Yang-sik of the Gyeongju City. In his Declaration of Opening of the Festival, Mayor Choi said: “The Silk Road is a valuable cultural asset of mankind through which the Silla Kingdom carried out exchange of culture, commerce and civilization with the outside world through the land and sea routes. The Silla culture had the deep understanding of the different cultures of the world as well as openness through which the Kingdom met the challenges of the new situations.
“Based on this culture of two thousand years, the Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Festival was started in 1998 with the ‘Smile of New Millennium. Now I declare open the 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Festival at the Golden City of Gyeongju for the full blooming of the Golden Culture of the Ancient Times!”
Congratulatory speeches were made also by the distinguished guests from various countries of the world, which included one by Ambassador Mohamed Alharthy of Oman on behalf of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps.
He said, “My country, Oman has occupied a unique place along the maritime Silk Roads and brought together merchants from east and west for many centuries. Its strategic location between the east and the west led to its fantastic seafaring history, which includes the legendary Sindbad the Sailor and the Frankincense caravans.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this Article.)
Among the members of the Diplomatic Corps attending the Festival were Ambassadors Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Baasanjav Ganbold of Mongolia, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Calderon of Guatemala, Suth Dina of Cambodia, Omrie Michael Golley of Sierra Leone, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Jorge Ramon Arnesto Alm of Nicaragua, Hassan Taherian of Iran, Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh, Elias Nicolas of Lebanon (CDA), Salohiddin Kiromov of Tajikistan (CDA) and Myo Thant Pe of Myanmar (CDA). There also were Deputy Heads of Mission Bakhtier N. Ibragimov of Uzbekistan, Upender S. Rawat of India, Kiran Shakya of Nepal; and various embassy officials including Defense Attache Col. Thomas H A Schneider of Germany, Economic Counsellor Yen Kuo-ruey of the Taipel Mission, 2nd Secretary Ms. Thiri Hlaing of Myanmar, 3rd Secretary Sardor Sadikov of Uzbekistan, Vice Consul Ms. Massiel Anayansi Serrano Ruiz Consul of Panama, Head of Chancery Rossana Alida Stanziola De Miller of Panama, and Culturtal Officer Tuvshin Ganbold of Mongolia.
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by Prime Minister Hwang:
I warmly welcome all the guests from abroad as well as from Korea, especially the government representatives from many different countries of the world. The 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Expo, which was held in Gyeongju here in this ancient city of a thousand years, is an event that is participated by all the countries of the Silk Road.
President Park Geun-hye proposed a EuroAsian Initiatives in 2013 for the promotion of peace and co-prosperity of all the peoples in Europe and Asia. It was aimed at turning Europe and Asia into one large continent and promoting cooperation among all the countries continent through the network of transportation and energy which contributes to the promotion of peace in the whole world.
I expect that the 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Expo will be a very meaningful event that will contribute to the embodiment and implementation of the Euro-Asian Initiatives.
The culture has a powerful means that binds all the different peoples of the world into one overriding the language barrier and territorial boundaries and share their values. The Government of the Republic of Korea has designated ‘Cultural Enrichment’ as one of the basic policies of the government and the central axis of means for the attainment of the national development.
As you may be aware, Korea has a unique, brilliant culture developed throughout the history of five thousand years. We wish to help further flourish this culture through exchange with all the countries of the world. Now we wish to develop a new form of culture through integration with all the other cultures of the world which the entire mankind can enjoy as well as retaining and further developing our own unique culture.
I wish that this Festival will prove a valuable occasion to promote active cultural exchanges among all the Silk Road countries and create a ‘New Culture Silk Road of the Eurasian Continent.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s winning of the historical National Liberation (from Japanese colonial rule) and also the 70th year of the division of the Korean peninsula into two parts.
The Silk Road of the past was a great journey which started from the West such as Persia and Istanbul and which reached Gyeongju of the Silla Kingdom via the East such as Pyongyang of the Goguryeo Kingdom.
It is truly sad that the Silk Road has become unusable today due to the division of the Korean peninsula. I hope that the new Silk Road will be a broad one made with a broad mind that connects the history and culture transcending the political and ideological differences.
I hope that North Korea, too, will actively take part in the efforts of all the countries of the world for the promotion of peace and common prosperity.
The government of the Republic of Korea will make every effort it can to make the Korean people one again through inter-Korean cultural exchange and to open an era of cultural prosperity together with all the peoples of the world.
I extend my congratulations to Governor Kim Kwan-yong and all the persons for the hard work put in in the preparation of this Festival. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish happiness to everyone present here.
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by Ambassador Alharty of Oman:
Annyong Hasea yo, Bangap-sem-nida ,
Honorable Governor Kim Kwan-yong of the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Honorable Mayor Choi Yang-sik of the Gyeongju City, Excellencies Minister of Culture of Thailand, Minister of Education and Culture of Mongolia, Exellencies, Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude, on behalf of my colleagues, to Governor Kim and Mayor Choi for the kind invitation to the opening ceremony of the 2015 Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Expo. It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity to congratulate the opening of this meaningful event.
We would like to congratulate Gyeongju government and people for hosting the Silk Road Culture Expo 2015, at this beautiful city, the center of history and culture of Korea, the capital city of Silla dynasty, the Easternmost Starting Point and Destination of the Silk Road.
I am sure that the Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Expo will greatly contribute to the promotion of understanding of the traditional culture, art and development of the Republic of Korea and all the countries of the world as well as those directly linked by the Silk Road..
My country, Oman has occupied a unique place along the maritime Silk Roads and brought together merchants from east and west for many centuries. Its strategic location between the east and the west led to its fantastic seafaring history, which includes the legendary Sindbad the Sailor and the Frankincense caravans. Omani towns and ports, such as Sohar, Muscat, Sur and Salalah provided safe centers where peaceful trade and exchange could take place between sailors, merchants and travelers from across the world. With regard to its long-standing role along the historic Silk Roads, Oman has been one of the outstanding partners of the UNESCO Silk Roads Initiatives including the UNESCO Maritime Silk Road Expedition and dialogue.
The Silk Road is uniting us and engraved in our history which linked our countries and people together in trade and culture and helped in building strong ties and relation among the east and the west throughout the years. So, let’s move forward to broader and deeper horizons and rewrite the history of Silk Road for the next generations to come. We all have the potentials and experiences that qualify us. Today, technology, culture and arts can play a major role to bring us closer and together for better understanding and extending bridges of relations, cooperation and spread values of love, coexistence and peace throughout the entire world.
Distinguished Guests, Honorable Governor Kim, Mayor Choi,
I would like, once again, to express our thanks and appreciation to you for inviting us at this meaningful event, Many thanks to your team, staff and all the volunteers for their efforts and dedication. We also would like to thank Chairman Lee of Korea post for organizing this trip and many thanks to you all. I wish the Gyeongju Silk Road Culture Expo every success in fruitfully hosting the Expo and best of health and happiness to all the people attending the Gyeongju Silk Road Festival.