A unique initiative was organized in the Sokcho City of the Gangwon Province on the east coast sponsored by the Italian Embassy in Korea on Nov. 15-16, 2019. It was held in collaboration with the Sokcho City and the Goseong County of the Gangwon Province.
Ambassadors and other senior members of 11 embassies in Korea attended the meeting together with many eminent foreign guests, Korean government and political leaders—totaling some 120.
In the opinion of some participants, such a large international meeting has seldom taken place in the province, let alone the Sokcho City.
Governor Choi Moon-Soon of the Gangwon Province said in his opening speech that he felt grateful for the support Italy has given to Korea. He also remembered to the audience that the Korea and Italy enjoy friendly relations for past 135 years from their first diplomatic ties in 1884. Moreover, Italy dispatched 189 Red Cross officers for medical assistance, and approximately 230,000 patients were treated between 1951 and 1955.
Mayor Kim Chul-Soo, in expressing his gratitude to the Embassy of Italy for the hard work in preparing the event, announced a deeper relationship between the two countries and further initiatives.
Mayor Lee Kyoung-il of the Goseong County manifested his appreciation to the Italian diplomats and staff for the hard work put in for the preparation of the event and explained that the Goseong County was a pristine tourist site which presented a unique scenery in four different seasons.
Director General Jeong Il-Jeong of the Ministry of Agriculture acknowledged the initiative and the action of solidarity for the area, emphasizing the consequences of last year’s wildfire, that killed one person and left 424 families homeless, burning 478 houses and 896.81ha of forest.
The concepts underlined during the outstanding speeches of Italian Ambassador Federico Failla and Prof. Francesco Canganella (Science and Technology Counsellor of the Italian Embassy) were about the fact that the relationship between the two nations has been raised to a strategic cooperative partnership.
The interaction and cooperation of the two nations across a variety of sectors including politics, economics, tourism, and culture have lately reinforced and facilitated, even more after the official state visit by President Moon Jae-in to Italy in October 2018.
Moreover were highlighted aspects concerning the connection between the well-managed Italian agroecosystems and healthy/organic foods; the importance of transforming the best ingredients available on the market in great dishes to nourish both body and mind; the habit Italians have to share food and thus share culture with the others in a sort of ritual to foster values of solidarity and friendship among people, and in this case between the two Peninsulas.
The Week was launched four years ago by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it’s dedicated to support any initiatives to counteract the so-called “Italian sounding” (intentional misuse of Italian names and logos in order to sell low quality food products); combine high-quality cuisine and Italian wine; remark the controlled and protected designation of origin of Italian food products (DOP and IGP), support regional and food and beverage tourist itineraries; foster the Mediterranean diet for a healthy and balanced lifestyle; remark the excellence and quality of Italian cuisine.
On the first day, a special event, "The Excellence of Italian Cuisine," was held at the Seaside Garden Restaurant in Goseong.
In charge of the whole event, including the special lecture, entitled “Italian food: a wealth of taste and health benefits,” was Prof. Francesco Canganella, the Science and Technology Counsellor of the Italian Embassy, while planning, management and logistics were handled by Mrs. Giovanna Canganella.
The dinner was exclusively designed for the event by Chef Paolo De Maria with the support of Chef Santino Nicosia and Chef Lorenzo Andreazzoli, all affiliated with IFSE (Italian Food Style Education). The menu was prepared with local foods of the Gangwon province combined with some of the best Italian ingredients available in Korea: extra virgin olive oil, tomato sauce, durum wheat pasta, wheat flour, balsamic and red vinegar, burrata cheese, mascarpone cheese, and of course chocolate and coffee. Ferrero, Lavazza Coffee, Aceto Reale Varvello (balsamic vinegar) kindly sponsored.
The program for the evening also included the awarding ceremony for the art contest “Leonardo da Vinci: the Italian Genius from the Renaissance,” to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death and his legacy to the modern world. Local students from primary, middle, and high school were awarded by Italian Ambassador Federico Failla.
As a proper closing of the whole event, a small concert of lyric music, featuring Soprano Miseon Oh, Tenor Dongjoo Oh, and Pianist Seokhee Kang took place.
On the second day of the event, a special tour was organized for the guests, and especially for the members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, in order to show the touristic attractions of the area, with the aim to give a new impulse to tourism and see Sokcho and Goseong flourish again soon. Songjiho Lake, Hwajinpo Lake, the Unification Observatory and the Bauzium Sculpture Museum were among the main attractions, not forgetting a nice stop by the Seabreeze Restaurant and Seaview Cafe.