By The Korea Post Staff Reporter Ms. Park So-yeon
Ambassador Mumba Smyth Kapumpa of Zambia and the charges d’affaires of Egypt and Panama plus the senior diplomats of a number of other countries attended the 4th Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival in Chilgok on Sept. 30, 2016 at the invitation of Mayor Baek Sun-ki of the Chilgok County. Iran was represented by Mrs. Mah Manesh Taherian, spouse of the Ambassador Hassan Taherian.
The Festival is in celebration of the successful defense of the Nakdong River Defense Line near the Chilgok County of the Gyeongsangnam-do Province during the fateful fighting of three weeks on Aug. 8-29, 1950. If the Battle of Dabud-dong was lost hypothetically, there would be no Republic of Korea today.
The number of visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps that day was not as large as those in the previous years due to incomparably important international and domestic events that took place on the same day in Seoul and various other big cities across the country.
In spite of the comparatively smaller attendance by the diplomatic corps this year due to other events of overriding importance in Seoul which attracted most of the ambassadors, the celebration events prepared by the host government of Chilgok County were rather elaborate.
They included a well-prepared buffet luncheon for the visiting senior diplomats and spouses, presentation of cultural performances and organizing of tours of various important Korean War memorial sites in the Chilgok County.
Speaking at the luncheon Mayor Baek of the Chilgok County said: “As you may be well aware, this Chilgok area was the hard-fought battlefield during the Korean War. If we had hypothetically failed to protect the Chilgok region, the final defense line of the 55 day-long Battle of the Nakdong River Defense Line might have fallen and we might have lost the Korean War?with the result that today there would be no Republic of Korea, let alone the peace and prosperity we enjoy today in the world. (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this report.)
Then there was presentation of a gift to the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps. It was a traditional Korean folding fan with a painting of ‘An Owl and Plum Blossoms’ done by the noted artist of the Chilgok County. From olden times in Korea, a folding fan is regarded as a precious gift for its exceptional beauty. The owl in the picture on the fan is a symbol of wisdom and wealth and the apricot blossoms represent the clean and bright mind of the people. In particular, the apricot blossoms are the floral symbol of the Chilgok County. They had enough gifts and each visiting diplomat was also provided with one later.
There was reciprocation of expression of appreciation. Plaque of Appreciation was presented to Mayor Baek by Ambassador Kapumpa of Zambia who did so on behalf of all the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps. It read in part: “I present this Plaque of Appreciation to Mayor Baek Sun-ki on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps as well as for myself for the kind invitation extended to us to the 4th Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival on this day. We trust that the Festival will greatly contribute to our understanding of the Korean culture as well as promotion of friendship and cooperation between Korea and our countries.”
Mayor Baek also presented to Ambassador Kapumpa of Zambia a similar Plaque of Appreciation which expressed the gratitude on the part of the citizens of the Chilgok County, as well as himself, to Ambassador Kapumpa and other visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps for their attendance at the 4th Nakdong River Korean War Memorial and Peace Festival.
The tour for the senior diplomats included a visit to the Korean War Memorial Museum, a hands-on experience in the use of actual combat firearms used during the Korean War and attendance at the opening ceremony of the Festival.
Actual ceremony of the 4th Nakdong World Peace Culture Festival began at a ceremony site prepared on the bank of the Nakdong River cutting through the Chilgok County.
It was attended by many civic figures as well as the provincial and municipal leaders. There also were special guests, in addition to the diplomats. They were representatives of the United Nations Forces`who entered the ceremony site carrying the national flags of the 16 Korean War veteran countries who sent troops to Korea to fight on the side of the Republic of Korea to help her defend herself from the invading North Korean Armed Forces.
There were re-enactment of the decisive scenes of the Korean War as well as the battles fought by the student volunteer soldiers and even young women who joined the defenders of the Nakdong River near the host city of Chilgok to thwart the invading North Korean forces.
It rained on and off, but there was no ‘deserter’ from the ceremony site. The Chilgok County authorities provided simple temporary rain coats to the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps to keep dry.
Excerpts from the speech of Mayor Baek:
It is my honor and pleasure to host the 4th Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival in Chilgok. I would like to pay my sincere respect and thanks to the Korean War veterans who fought for our country. My special thanks go to Chairman Jang In-hee of the Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival Promotion Committee and Vice Governor Woo Byeong-yun of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province present here today on behalf of Governor Kim Kwan-yong. I would also like to express my heart-felt gratitude to the ambassadors and other senior diplomats from nine countries of the world?as well as to Colonel Melesse Tessema, president of the Ethiopians Korea War Veterans Association, and the Ethiopian Delegation. My special thanks also go to Governor Park Seong-il of the Wanju County of the Jeollabuk-do Province, which is a sister county of the Chilgok County.
Then I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the presidents of newspapers and broadcasting companies, the chairmen of the National Security and War Veterans Associations in Daegu Metropolitan City and the Chilgok County as well as to the commanding general of the United States Armed Forces in Korea.
My heartfelt gratitude also goes to Rep. Yi Wan-young of the National Assembly for his tremendous effort for this Festival and Chairman Jo Gi-seok of the Chilgok County Council, the Provincial and the County Council members, and Chief Si Jin-gon of the Chilgok Police Station.
I would also like to give my thanks to former Chilgok-gun Governors Choi Jae-yeong and Jang Se-ho and President Song Yun-taek of Seoul Alumni Association and President Park Chang-sun of the Daegu Alumni Association for their unreserved effort for the development of our county.
And then, of course, my last and special thanks go to the dear citizens of the Chilgok County and all the other distinguished guests from within the Republic of Korea and without!
To the distinguished members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, I would like to extend my wholehearted welcome on behalf of the 130,000 citizens of the Chilgok County for their kind visit to the Chilgok County to join our celebration of the 2016 Nakdong River World Peace Culture Grand Festival.
The Festival is held in the Chilgok County, the City of National Defense and Peace, aimed at turning the throes of the War into peace and in supplication for peace. Beginning today, the Festival will continue for four days.
At this time, I would remind all our guests here today the Festival this year will prove all the more meaningful in the fact that we have the distinguished members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps graciously attending this meeting.
The Chilgok County has historically been and is a very important strategic region for national defense where countless number of battles and combats have taken place throughout the history of Korea. During the Korean War of the early 1950s, in particular, Chilgok is the place where the Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations stopped the further advance of the North Korean invasion forces and where we started our counter offensive against the North Korean invasion forces, where, in particular, the legendary and historical Battle of Nakdong River took place.
This is why here and there in the Chilgok County are many traces and signs of the history of the defense of the Republic of Korea. On this particular occasion, I would like to invite Your Excellencies and other senior diplomats to visit the Chilgok National Defense and Peace Memorial Museum and various sites of the Festival and enjoy a meaningful time of renewing the important meaning of peace.
The sound of gunfire ceased already 63 years ago. However, the Republic of Korea still remains a sole divided nation in the world and uneasy peace continues to prevail in the country.
There should be no repetition of a tragic war on the Korean peninsula. No longer should young people be made the victims of another war.
I pray that this Festival will contribute to upholding the will of the people who dedicated their lives to the defense of peace and freedom in Korea and lead to the settlement of continued peace on the Korean peninsula and the world. I would like to solicit the distinguished diplomats to join our prayers for peace in Korea and the world.
As you may know well, this Chilgok area was the hard-fought battlefield during the Korean War. If we had hypothetically failed to protect the Chilgok region, the final defense line of the 55 day-long Battle of the Nakdong River Defense Line might have fallen and we might have lost the Korean War?with the result that today there would be no Republic of Korea, let alone the peace and prosperity we enjoy today in the world.
I am convinced that it is our duty to wholeheartedly thank the Korean War veterans and remember their precious sacrifices.
Their descendants who live in Chilgok today have made unceasing efforts to make Chilgok “a City of War Memorial & Peace Theme Park” in order to honor the devotion of the deceased patriots.
As part of this effort, we are hosting the nation's one and only patriots & peace festival in Korea, and have been promoting a variety of war memorial-related brand projects including the Patriots & Peace Memorial which was opened last year, the Korea-USA Friendship Park of Jagosan Mountain and the Gwanho-sanseong Park.
I assure you that Chilgok will light up Korea with the undying flame of defending peace that will remain lit 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
Especially, the Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival this year has developed into a more improved event which pursues world peace, the universal value of human, in cooperation with the diplomatic delegations in Korea and the war veterans delegation from Ethiopia, that was the only Korean War-participating African country.
With the opening ceremony as a start of the festival, the 4 day-long journey to a variety of programs begins. I look forward to your continued interest and participation. Once again, I would like to appreciate all the guests present today and volunteers who support the successful host of the festival. I wish you all the best and happiness.
It has been only for a short span of time but it is my ardent desire that Your Excellencies and Madams and all the other distinguished guests of the Diplomatic Corps will enjoy a good time while staying in our County, and take home a fond memory of our county and people.
Once again, I would like to express my deep appreciation for your kind visit to the Chilgok County and I wish every distinguished guest the best of health and happiness.
이경식 기자 firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © 코리아포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>