By Kim Ji-sun (Ms.), staff reporter
Ambassador Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, ambassadors of Kenya, Norway and Latvia, and senior diplomats of a number of other countries attended the opening ceremony of the 2016 Gangneung Coffee Festival on Sept. 30, 2016 which was hosted by Mayor Choi Myung-hee of the City in the presence of the local and central government leaders of Korea, including Chairman Jo Young-don of the Gangneung City Council. The tour was organized by The Korea Post media group.
Gangneung, one of the two major host cities to the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, together with Pyeongchang, has a great deal of attractions in store for the Korean and international visitors.
Offhand, there are the ultra-modern, state-of-the-art sports and accommodation facilities, already completed and some in the middle of construction. They include the Gangneung Olympic Park nicknamed the “Ice Sports Hub of the World.”
The guest accommodation facilities of Gangneung, according to Mayor Choi, also stand out with many top-rate tourist hotels. They include the 1,091-room Saint Jones Gyeongpo Hotel, the 948-room China Dream City, the 523-4om Sky Bay Hotel, the 520-room Gyeongpo Olympics County Hotel and the 350-room SM Hotel.
Gangneung is also noted for many Olympic medalists and winners of other coveted sports awards.
They include 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games Marathon Gold Medalist Hwang Young-jo, 2012 London Summer Paralympic Gold Medalist Gang Ju-young (Shooting) and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games Gold Medalist Ms. Shim Suk-hee (short track race).
Then there is the handicapped Judoist Choi Kwang-Gun who won the 2012 London Summer Paralympic Games and the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympic Games and then the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games (Taekwondo) Gold Medalist Oh Hye-Ri.
As soon as the visiting ambassadors arrived in Gangneung, they were received personally by Mayor Choi and were invited to a briefing session at the Sea Mark Hotel in the City where they were shown important videos on the preparation of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. A substantial number of the games and events are scheduled to be hosted by the Gangneung City.
The visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats and the international media representatives then were invited to attend a luncheon with the leaders of the Gangneung City hosted by Mayor and Mrs. Choi.
Welcoming the distinguished ambassadors and international guests, Mayor Choi said in his welcome address: “Gangneung is the host city of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, where all the on-the-ice games and matches are hosted. Hence the fitting nickname of the city “A City on the Ice.” Then he said, “Furthermore, Gangneung is a ‘Sports City’ deriving from the fact that Gangneung gave birth to many Gold Medalists in the Olympic Games.” Mayor Choi then introduced the relationship of his city with coffee. He said, “Gangneung is a City of Coffee where the most-famed Coffee Festival of the Republic of Korea is held and it is my ardent desire that this tour for the today would greatly contribute to further promoting the understanding among all peoples around the world concerning Gangneung.” (See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this article.)
In response to the welcome speech of Mayor Choi, Ambassador Dato Moh Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam said, “It is really a privilege and wonderful opportunity for us to be able to come and see for ourselves the fascinating nature and beauty of the city and the surrounding areas and furthermore, as you have mentioned, we are indeed grateful that the weather has been very kind and very accommodating for our visit to your lovely city of Gangneung.” Then he said, “We are also very pleased to be able to participate and experience the Gangneung Coffee Festival, which is a famous coffee festival in the Republic of Korea.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this article.)
The visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats together with the international media representatives from Seoul then attended the Opening Ceremony performance where Mayor Choi, Ambassador Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu and other visitors form the Seoul Diplomatic Corps took part at Coffee Ceremony which was termed, “100 Coffee Lovers and 100 Coffee Tastes.” The ceremony on the open-air ground was attended by hundreds of civic figures of the City and the surrounding localities.
All the Ice Sports Games of the 2018 Pyeongchanng Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, according to Mayor Choi, are held in the Gangneung City, which include the figure skating, short track speed skating, speed skating, ice hockeys and curling.
The visiting diplomats then were invited to visit the famed Ojukheon House (Municipal Museum) which is the Treasure No. 165. The Byeoldang Building was built in the early Joseon Dynasty and is an example of the Jusimpo and Ikgong style, which gives the people insights into the architectural styles of the early Joseon Dynasty. It has gained even more historical value as the birthplace of famed Madam Sin Saimdang and his son, famed Joseon Dynasty Confucian Scholar Yi Yul-gok.
The Joseon Dynasty mother and son are noted for their appearance on the bank notes presently used in Korea, namely the 50,000 won Bank of Korea note (with the portrait picture of Madam Sin Saimdang) and the 5,000 won note with the picture of her son, Yi Yul-gok.
Then the ambassadors were invited to tour the Gangneung Artist Town (Museum of Oriental Embroidery). The Artist’s Town, right next to Ojukheon, is where famous craftworks and embroidery of Korea, Japan and China were on display.
A brief personal history of Mayor Choi:
Mayor Choi was born in the Gangneung City on Aug. 8, 1955, graduated from the prestigious Korea University in Seoul with a major in government administration at its College of Law, married with Spouse Lee Hui-son, received the 2016 Award of Creative CEO to Brighten the Future of Korea, and won his first election in July 2006 as the 30th elected mayor of the Gangnueng City. Thence he has consecutively won the Gangneung mayoral races, namely the 31s and the last 32nd local elections.
Excerpts from the welcome address by Mayor Choi Myung-hee of Gangneung City:
My hearty greetings to the Excellencies and Madams. I am Mr. Choi Myung-hee, the Mayor of the Gangneung City.
On behalf of the citizens of the Gangneung City, I extend my warmest welcome to His Excellency Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and other distinguished members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post Media and other Korean and international media representatives.
We have had a spell of rainy days and I was very much worried about the weather. Today, however, the skies are clear and blue and the weather could not be better. I would believe that God has been aware that we are receiving the most distinguished guests here today.
From time immemorial, the Gangneung City has been widely known for the God-given natural beauty of the mountains, seas and lakes. Gangneung is a city of long history and outstanding arts.
Furthermore, Gangneung is the host city of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, where all the on-the-ice games and matches are hosted. Hence the fitting nickname, “A City on the Ice.” Furthermore, Gangneung is a “Sports City” deriving from the fact that Gangneung gave birth to many Gold Medalists in the Olympic Games.
Furthermore, Gangneung is a City of Coffee where the most-famed Coffee Festival of the Republic of Korea is held.
It is ardent my desire that this tour for the distinguished diplomats here today would greatly contribute to further promoting the understanding among all peoples around the world concerning the Gangneung City. It is also my sincere hope that the presence of Your Excellencies would lead to continued and expanded exchanges and interchanges between our City and all the other cities around the world.
Lastly, I would like to offer my toast with all the distinguished guests here today. Please raise your glass.
I offer my toast for the best of health of all the participants, everlasting development and prosperity of your country and for the successful opening of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
Wihayeo! (For the Benefit of Everyone!)
Congratulatory speech by Ambassador Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, dean of visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps:
Honorable Mr. Choi Myung-hee, mayor of the Gangneung City, Exellencies and colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps who are visiting with us today; Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, and other members of the media, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps.
First of all, let me convey our deepest appreciation and thanks to the Honorable Mayor for the kind invitation for us to participate in the tour of the Gangneung Coffee Festival and the Winter Olympic Games facilities.
It is really a privilege and wonderful opportunity for us to be able to come and see for ourselves the fascinating nature and beauty of the city and the surrounding areas.
Furthermore, as you have mentioned, we are indeed grateful that the weather has been very kind and very accommodating for our visit to your lovely city of Gangneung.
We are also very pleased to be able to participate and experience the Gangneung Coffee Festival, which is a famous coffee festival in the Republic of Korea.
Today we will also be able to see the excellent preparation, infrastructure and beauties for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. We can also feel the services and dedication of the whole city especially the citizens of Gangnueng in readiness for the upcoming big event of the Olympic Games.
I am confident that all this will contribute to a most successful and memorable Winter Olympics 2018.
As Your Honorable Mayor mentioned that our visit today will help to deepen or knowledge and understanding of the City its people and its rich culture and tradition.
Once again, thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
Our heartfelt congratulations to the Honorable Mayor Choi and the City of Gangnueng, and we wish you all the best. Kamsa hamnida.
Partial list of visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps and Press Corps:
Deputy Minister of Kenya for State Affairs
Ambassador Mohammed Gello of Kenya
Ambassador and Mrs. Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam
Ambassador and Mrs. Jan Ole Grevstad of Norway
Ambassador and Mrs. Peteris Vaivars of Latvia
Deputy Head of Mission Gathoga Chege of Kenya
Counsellor and Mrs. Begench Durdiyev of Turkmenistan
Counsellor Karla Mascoto Marales of Onduras
Counsellor Clkause Ganza of Rwanda
First Secretary Champemba Elias of Zambia
Trade Counsellor Aksamil Khair of Inonesia
Attache Ms. K.Y. Suganthini of Sri Lanka
Attache Dinamene Lopes of Angola
Professor Jackson Ngari Peter of Kenya
Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media
Seoul Bureau Chief and Mrs. Birn-jak Ahn of ARD Germany Radio
Seoul Bureau Chief Shan Shilei of the Legal Daily of China
Seoul Bureau Chief Ms. Wu Xu of China News Service
Seoul Bureau Chief Mrs. Yang Ning of CRJ-CIBN News Service of China
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