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Hungary said no, and it was a great source of hope for all the distressed nationsAmbassador Gabor Csaba of Hungary in Seoul

▲Ambassador Gabor Csaba of Hungary in Seoul (10th from left) poses with Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Hyoung-zhin (15th from left) and ambassadors and other guests at the National Day reception of Hungary at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Oct. 20, 2016. Hungary was a great source of inspiration for the people of Korea and other countries of the world who suffered the dearth of freedom and democracy.

“In 1956, Hungarians said no to the Communist regime that had been installed in the country eight years earlier, and gave an unambiguous expression to their desire to live in freedom and independence,” said Ambassador Gabor Csaba of Hungary in Seoul at a reception his country hosted at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Oct,. 20, 2016 in celebration of the freedom Hungary recovered in 1956 in an uprising that was a great source of inspiration of all the countries of the world, where the people wanted to live in liberty and peace, including Korea. Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Csaba follow:

Deputy Minister Kim Hyoung-zhin Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Korean Friends,

This October, Hungarians everywhere commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight.

While the revolution was crushed by overwhelming outside force, its memory and messages live on and serve as some of the most important sources of inspiration for all Hungarians and many others around the world.

In 1956, Hungarians said no to the Communist regime that had been installed in the country eight years earlier and gave an unambiguous expression to their desire to live in freedom and independence.

▲Ambassador Csaba of Hungary behind the rostrum speaks to the guests introducing the National Day of Hungary.

Although the country was in ruins, the defeat of the short-lived revolution did not succeed in crushing the spirit of the Hungarian nation or the ideals and principles the heroes of 1956 were fighting for.

To a large extent, 1956 came to influence the further development of Hungary and brought the country a more bearable version of communism.

It was also due to the legacy of that spontaneous outburst of society’s frustration and anger on October 23, 1956 that the revolution’s ideals could be finally realized when Hungary was declared a republic exactly thirty-three years later, on October 23, 1989.

Hungary regained its freedom and independence and was given an opportunity to begin, in a peaceful manner, its process of transition, which resulted in the establishment of a democratic and prosperous country.

We started our difficult, yet uplifting journey during which we managed to reestablish our place in the community of freedom-loving democratic nations as also demonstrated by Hungary’s accession both to NATO and to the European Union.

During this anniversary, we also remember the significance of those historic days for the Korean nation, which just emerged and was in the process of recovering from the devastating experience of the Korean War.

Koreans-just like Hungarians-learned in the course of their history how precious freedom and independence are and the residents of this country immediately sympathized with the Hungarians who were fighting a Communist dictatorship some 10,000 kilometers away.

Some of those feelings were beautifully expressed in Kim Chun-soo’s famous and very touching poem about The Death of a Girl in Budapest with the poet drawing painful parallels between tragedies happening by the Danube and the Han rivers.

The spiritual bonds forged between the two nations during those days were emphatically manifested in the formation of a group of students at Yonsei University in October 1956 who wanted to go to the rescue of the Hungarian uprising.

That brave bunch of young Korean students was formed and led by the late Lee Man-sup, best known as a two-term speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly.

It is a great privilege to welcome the other leader of the group, former Member of the National Assembly, Mr. Yoo Jae-kun in our midst tonight.

It is obvious that many, if not most, of the spectacular achievements in our bilateral relations are linked to or flow from these strong foundations rooted in the values we share and the sympathy we mutually feel for each other.

I am happy to point out in particular the $2.2 billion invested by Korean companies in Hungary, the $2 billion annual two-way trade volume, the 42.5 percent growth in Hungarian exports to Korea last year, the doubling of the number of Korean tourists to Hungary in just three years to exceed 110,000 in 2015, or our successful research & development cooperation.

The ideals my fellow countrymen represented sixty years ago constitute the backbone of our relationship today and ensure that Hungary and the Republic of Korea are working together to address some of the key challenges we are facing globally and here on the Korean peninsula.

My government has been consistently supporting Seoul’s efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and bring about the peaceful unification of the two Koreas.

This October, we thank our heroes for a glorious revolution from which Hungarians today and for centuries to come can take strength and encouragement and which we can use as a moral compass.

And here in Seoul, we also cherish the friendship and good-will between Hungarians and Koreans that have been made even stronger by the experience of 1956.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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