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Ambassadors, spouses have hands-on experience in games in DangjinAt 2016 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival;

Ambassadors Milan Lajciak of Slovakia. Niroshani Manisha Gunaseker of Sri Lanka, Thura H. Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar, Peteris Vaivars of Latvia, Askar Beshimov of Kyrgyzstan and Salohiddin Kiromov of Tajikistan, some 30 other senior diplomats and spouses and Korean and Chinese journalist leaders attended the 2016 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Game Dangjin City on April 8, 2016, which was designated as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Korea last year.

▲Mayor and Mrs. Kim Hong-jang of the Dangjin City (fourth and fifth, front row) and Ambassador Milan Lajciak of Slovakia (seventh from left rear row) pose for the camera with other ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps. The cute little boy in front of the mayor is Master Andrii Horopakha, son of First Secretary and Mrs. Serhii Horopakha of Ukraine.

Welcoming the ambassadors and other senior diplomats, Vice Mayor Jong Byung-hee of the Dangjin City said on behalf of Mayor Kim Hong-jang, “The Dangjin City with a population of 170,000 citizens is growing into a most active and vibrant industrial city of Korea, which includes steel, machinery, metal industry, processing industry, medicine, and various other industries, and with the broad Yellow Sea in its front Dangjin will develop various high value-added industries such as marine leisure and environment-friendly industries.

▲The visiting ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses pose for the camera at the fa?ade of the head office building of JW Pharma.

“Dangjin,” he said, “is also noted for outstanding historical and cultural features and tradition, which include the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Game which was designated by the UNESCO last December as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind together with three other countries of Asia.” (See excerpts from Vice Mayor Jong’s welcome speech toward the end of this article.)
In response, Ambassador Milan Lajciak of Slovakia, on behalf of all the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps, said, “For me personally the 0striking point is the interpretation of the outcome of the games, ‘No winners, no losers, but a win-win solution,’ which reflects the Korean sense of balance, the Yin-Yang principle, encoded in the national flag and emblem of the Republic of Korea.”

▲Mayor and Mrs. Kim Hong-jang of the Dangjin City (third and fourth from right, foreground) receive Ambassador and Mrs. Peteris Vaivars of Latvia (third and fourth from left, foreground) and other ambassadors and senior diplomats as they arrive at the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Gijisi Tug-of War Museum.

“Today,” said Ambassador Lajciak “we are at the Dangjin City, a very vibrant and prosperous city, ideal place for agriculture, industry and maritime activities, which, as we know, has also a growing tendency to becoming the trading hub of the Pan Yellow Sea, and is well known as the area of rich culture and strong traditions.”
He concluded, “Last but not least, I would like on behalf of all participants in the trip to appreciate the organizational team for making our trip so interesting and valuable, and we wish success and prosperity to Dangjin municipality and the Dangjin people.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this article.)

▲Vice Mayor Jong Byung-hee of the Dangjin City and Ambassador Milan Lajciak of Slovakia (fifth and sixth from left, respectively) pose with other ambassadors and senior diplomats visiting the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival on April 8, 2016.

On the way to Dangjin, the ambassadors and other senior diplomats had a brief tour of the JW Pharmaceutical Co., and inspected various medicine production facilities after attending a briefing session on the company and its products.
JW, according to the company management, has over 70 years of history, and promises to strive to develop competitive new technologies and products and fulfill its social responsibility, ultimately aimed at becoming a trusted company contributing to the happiness of humanity.

▲Ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses pull ropes in a simplified Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War match with local people during their visit to the Dangjin City on April 8, 2016.

After JW Pharma, the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats attended a luncheon hosted by Vice Mayor Jeong Byeong-hee of the Dangjin City on behalf of the mayor at classy buffet restaurant in Dangjin, where there was a welcome ceremony for the ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps.
The luncheon was attended from the City Government, besides the vice mayor, by Director Lee Kyu-man for Planning and Budget, Chief Ms. Lee Sun-jae of the Women and Family Affairs Section, Chief Kim Nak-yoon of the Sports/Athletic Development Section and Chief Cho Seong-joon of the Environment Policies Section.

▲Mrs. Peteris Vaivars (spouse of the ambassador of Latvia) pins her ‘Good Wish Paper’ on the “My Wish Come True Tree” at the Dangjin Tug-of-War Festival.

Vice Mayor Jeong Byeong-hee then presented Ambassadors Lajciak of Slovakia on behalf of the mayor of the Dangjin City a name card box, a lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl decorations symbolizing the Grand West Sea Bridge and the Sunrise of Oemok of the Dangjin City. The same gift, later, was presented to all the ambassadors and other participating members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Following the luncheon, the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats moved to the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Gijisi Tug-of War Museum, wore the traditional Korean costumes of the Joeseon Dynasty Yangban (Nobility) Class, and took part in the tug-of-war games of Dangjin. They also took part in the Daedong Madang traditional Korean folk games (performances of farmers' musical instruments).

▲Facing the camera are: Mayor and Mrs. Kim Hong-jang of the Dangjin City (second and third from right) with Deputy Head of Mission Baktiyor Ibragimov of Uzbekistan (third from right) and his son on the far right. On the left is a citizen of the Dangjin City.

List of participants:
Ambassadors Milan Lajciak of Slovakia and Niroshani Manisha Gunaseker of Sri Lanka; Ambs. and Mrs. Thura H. Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar with madam, Peteris Vaivars of Latvia, Askar Beshimov of the Kyrgyzstan and Salohiddin Kiromov of Tajikistan; Mrs. Veronica Morales (spouse of the vice minister of Ecuador); Mrs. Maria Rura (spouse of the ambassador of Ecuador) and Mrs. Irma Desysi Coello de Magana (spouse of the ambassador of El Salvador); Minister Counsellor and Mrs. Pablo Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia and Counsellors Baktiyor Ibragimov of Uzbekistan (DHM), Wang Congrong of China and Diomedes Carles of Panama; First Secretaries Serhii Horopakha of Ukraine and Lasford Ngoma of Zambia (each accompanied by madaqm); Second Secretaries Abiudy Mbewe of Zambia and Dipack Banjade of Nepal; Administrative Manager Volodymyr Kucherak of Ukraine; and Mrs. Marina Ruiz (spouse of the Ecuadoran counsel general).

Jounralists: New China News Agency Seoul Correspondent Ms. Oh Wook, Legal Day of China Seoul Bureau Chief Seon Saroe

▲Ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses (clad in light blue traditional Korean nobility dresses) mingle with performers and citizens of the Dangjin City for increased exposure to the traditional Korean culture and customs?winning great admiration and acclaim from the local populace.

Welcome address by Mayor Kim Hong-jang of the Dangjin City (presented by Vice Mayor Jeong Byung-hee):
Welcome Excellencies, distinguished guests to the Dangjin City. I am Vice Mayor Kim Hong-jang of the `Dangjin City, and I am here on behalf of the Mayor who is at the Ceremony Site.
We extend our whole-hearted welcome to all the Excellencies, Madams and other Distinguished Members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps today when the air is filled with the fresh and sweet fragrance of the spring flowers and blossoms. I would like to extend my whole-hearted welcome to all the distinguished guests from the Diplomatic Corps for their kind attendance at the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival, which is the Intangible Human Cultural Asset of the Dangjin City.

▲Ambassadors and other senior diplomats are making ropes with rice straw.

I extend my deepest gratitude to the Ambassadors and other Members of the Diplomatic Corps and the foreign media representatives, who are here today for your kind attendance as you take time out of your busy schedule to grace our Festival.
On your way here, I trust that you might have seen the Great West Coast Bridge, the spacious Industrial Estate of various factories and production facilities in operation.
However, up to the 1990s, the Dangjin Region had only been an agricultural society where farming was the main industry.
Today, however, the Dangjin City is growing into a most active and vibrant industrial city of the Republic of Korea, which includes steel, machinery, metal industry, processing industry, medicine, and various other industries. With the broad Yellow Sea in its front, the Dangjin City will continue to develop various high value-added industries such as marine leisure industry and environment-friendly businesses.

▲From right: Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Legal Day of China Seoul Bureau Chief Seon Saroe and New China News Agency Seoul Correspondent Ms. Oh Wook.

The Dangjin City is also noted for outstanding historical and cultural features and tradition, which include the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Game and the Solmoe Martyrs Shrine which is the symbol of Korean Catholicism.
In particular, the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Game, which Your Excellcncies and other distinguished guests will soon see, is one of the outstanding features of Dangjin, which was designated by the UNESCO in December last year as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind together with that of Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines of Asia. Thereby, the UNESCO recognized the outstanding historical and traditional features of the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Game.

The two competing teams of the tug-of-war game are divided into Susang Team (literally, ‘North of the River Team) and Suha Team (‘South of the River Team’). The tradition has it that if the Susang Team wins` there is much peace in the country and, on the contrary, if the Suha Team they have a bumper year. So whoever wins or loses the game, there is no winner or loser?as they are all winners. So, it is a tug-of-war of peace and harmony on both sides.

▲The Little Andrii from Ukraine is offered a handshake from a ‘Korean Police Officer’ who kneels down to reach his hand. Andrii was the ‘Star of the Day’ at the festival site attracting the adoring attention from everyone regardless of difference in nationality. In the backdrop are seen the Asian wives of Korean men admiring the little Andrii.

I would like to solicit the kind interest and full support for our Festival from all the ambassadors and other distinguished diplomats who are here today from many different countries of the world. We have done our best to prepare the best event we can to accommodate the distinguished guests from abroad as best as we could. However, if there is any room for improvement in spite of our best efforts, we would like to solicit your kind and generous understanding. While you stay in Dangjin, I sincerely wish that you will all enjoy Dangjin and take home fond memories.

I wish that the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival will provide an opportunity to deliver a message of harmony and common prosperity to the entire world. Once again, I would like to express our sincerely welcome and gratitude to all the distinguished members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, who have kindly taken time out of their busy schedule to add grace to our Dangjin City.

▲Ambassadors and their spouses laugh heartily joining the traditional Korean dance at the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival.

Return address by Ambassador Milan Lajciak of Slovakia:
Esteemed Mr. Jeong Byung-hee, Vice Mayor of Dangjin City, Mr. Lee Kyung-sik, Chairman of The Korea Post, Members of organization team, Ladies, Gentlemen,
On behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps allow to express our sincere gratitude for the invitation to extended to us to visit the Dangjin City.
When talking on behalf of the present ambassador present here today, I would say that nobody has been posted in the Republic of Korea for more than two years. In other words, we are all newcomers and we are thankful, when duties allow us, to avail ourselves of the opportunity to travel around Korea and to develop our understanding of your beautiful country and culture.

▲Ambassadors and other senior diplomats join the celebration dances with their spouses at the 2016 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival. A Korean village leader wearing a traditional Korean horse-hair hat and a smoking pipe try to show how to dance a Korean dance.

Today we are at the Dangjin City, a very vibrant and prosperous city, ideal place for agriculture, industry and maritime activities. As we know, this region has also a growing tendency to becoming the trading hub of the Pan Yellow Sea, and is well known as the area of rich culture and strong traditions.
I would like to highly appreciate the cooperation team for preparing for us the program covering economic aspects of the city as well as cultural events.
This morning, we visited the JW Pharmaceutical Company, and this afternoon we will visit the Tug-War-Game Museum and the Festival of this game.

▲From left, Mrs. Marina Ruiz (spouse of the Ecuadoran counsel general), Mrs. Veronica Morales (spouse of the vice minister of Ecuador) and Mrs. Maria Rura (spouse of the ambassador of Ecuador).

We all are looking forward to seeing the largest rope of its kind in the world, to watch competing team spirit and perfect harmony of the participants, enthusiasm, courage and friendly atmosphere.
These virtues represent principles of Korean culture that are applied in many aspects of the life of your society.
For me personally the striking point is also the interpretation of the outcome of the games, “No winners, no losers, but a win-win solution.” This is reflecting the Korean sense for the balance, Yin-Yang Principle, which is encoded in your national flag and emblem.
Last but not least, I would like on behalf of all participants of the trip to appreciate the organizational team for making our trip so interesting and valuable. We wishing success and prosperity to Dangjin municipality and the Dangjin people.

▲Clad in the traditional Korean scholars’ Mrs. Maria Rura (spouse of the ambassador of Ecuador) at left foreground with Mrs. Marina Ruiz (spouse of the Ecuadoran counsel general) and Mrs. Veronica Morales (spouse of the vice minister of Ecuador) at third and fourth from left.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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