By Yuccee O. Uwah, chief of The Korea Post Nigeria Bureau
On November 7, 2022, the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Nigeria hosted and invited members of diplomatic community, Nigerian officials, business leaders, cultural icons, the media, Korean community in Nigeria to the Korean National Day 2022 held at Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria.
The well-attended occasion provided opportunity for elegant display of Korean culture, music, arts and cuisine to dignitaries at the event. It also had on the sideline, exhibition of Korean products, facilitated by Korea companies in Nigeria to show case made in Korea products that are ubiquitous in the Nigerian market.
The chief host, the Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria, His Excellency, Kim Young Chae used the occasion to reel out laudable achievements and progress made by Korean Mission in Nigeria since the last event in 2019. The annual celebration was put on hold due to the COVID 19 Pandemic and it attendant social distancing and ban on public events in most countries.
The Ambassador surmised that “Team Korea in Nigeria working together with one mind to further enhance our bilateral relations. High-level exchange of visits between Nigeria and Korea are on the rise, which hit the high mark with the recent visit to Korea by President Buhari.” Korean Post Special Correspondent, Emman Ozoemena in Abuja, Nigeria reports that convivial atmosphere among guests at the National Day commemoration indicates cordial relations existing between Republic of Korea and Nigeria.
Celebrating Korean Achievements in Nigeria
The Embassy of Republic of Korea in Nigeria hosted the 2022 Korean National Day Reception at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, Nigeria on Monday, November 7, 2022 which was attended by guests from all walks of life, including but not limited to Nigeria’s top political elite, members of diplomatic corps, business leaders, cultural icons, the media representatives, Korean community in Nigeria and friends of Korea
For Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria, His Excellency, Ambassador Kim Young Chae, there is no other better time than Korean National Day to celebrate achievements of Team Korea and Korean entities in Nigeria as the Mission seeks to deepen engagements with Nigeria across various sectors of the economy as Korean owned businesses, investments expands their operations as well as increased co-operations between Nigerian government and the Republic of Korea on many fronts - Economic, trade, political, education, and cultural. In welcome remark at Korean National Day, the Ambassador revealed that expanding Korean Investments in Nigeria with about 20 Korean owned businesses actively participating in key sectors of the economy.
He also said that the annual event aimed at celebrating the best of Korean culture and music in commemoration of the National Day brings together Korean community in Nigeria and their well-wishers, since 2020 had been on hold due to COVID19. While expressed appreciation to arrays distinguished guests that travelled from various parts of Nigeria at the occasion for finding time to join the Korea Mission and Koreans in Nigeria in the celebration of the National Day.
“My particular appreciation goes to those who travelled a long distance from Lagos and other parts of the country. This is the first time in the last 3 years that my Embassy hosts the national day reception in person. The Covid19 pandemic reminds us of the tremendous value of get-together. This is one of the reasons why we prepared today’s event with our friends and partners.” He revealed that apart from display of Korean culture and music that Korean companies in Nigeria put together an exhibition of their products to demonstrate its partnership in the Nigerian economy.
Exhibition of Made in Korea Products
To demonstrate its presence in the Nigerian economy, part of sideline, exhibition of Korean products, facilitated by Korea companies in Nigeria to show case made in Korea products that are ubiquitous in the Nigerian market.
“A sideline of the celebration was setting up of exhibition stands by Korean companies operating in Nigeria.” he noted.
According to the Ambassador, the exhibition was made possible by voluntary cooperation of Korean companies in Nigeria including LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors, and Lynda Solpia.
He noted that since arriving at Abuja, Nigeria to assume tour of duty as the Ambassador in January 2021, he has witnessed the growing bilateral relations between Korea and Nigeria, which for 2022, the bilateral trade between both is expected to reach over 2 billion dollars, which a 20% increase from 2021. Adding that about 20 Korean companies currently are active in Nigeria across various sectors of the economy.
“It is noteworthy among them that Daewoo ENC is a major partner of the Nigerian oil and gas sector, and Samsung Heavy Industry invested more than 300 million dollars to build an ultra-modern shipyard in Lagos port.” he noted.
Expanding Frontiers of Education and Culture
On the culture and education sector, the Ambassador said that the Korean Cultural Center has deepened its outreach to more Nigerians by signing MOUs with some universities and three television stations on Nigeria on collaboration and contents sharing.
Expectedly, this has resultant effect of these initiatives by Korean Cultural Centre in Nigeria, there is rising popularity of Korean music, movie and drama among Nigerians especially young people.
“I recognize, with great satisfaction, the rising popularity of Korean music, movie and drama among Nigerians, particularly among young generation.”
On official development aid to Nigeria, the Ambassador noted that Korean development agency, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is expanding its activities in training, education, e-government and humanitarian assistance. Adding that that over 2,500 Nigerian government officials have had study opportunities in Korea under KOICA training program.
On trade and investment in Nigeria he said that Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) is connecting Korean and Nigerian companies, so that they can build long-term reliable partnerships. The agencies together with the Korean Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate Office in Lagos made up the Team Korea in Nigeria.
“Team Korea in Nigeria work together with one mind to further enhance our bilateral relations. High-level exchange of visits between Nigeria and Korea are on the rise, which hit the high mark with the recent visit to Korea by President Buhari. The bilateral summit meeting between President Buhari and President Yoon was held successfully, covering a wide range of issues.”
Deepening Korea-Nigeria Diplomatic Relations
The Ambassador disclosed that during the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Korea, a bilateral Foreign Ministers meeting took place at the Korean Foreign Ministry to further consolidate the relations.
“Now we have the solid foundation to upgrade our relations to a higher level in the coming years. Regarding its relations with Economic Community of Western African States ECOWAS, my Embassy is seeking to establish a formal consultative mechanism, through which Korea and ECOWAS can work together for the regional peace and development.”
He disclosed that Republic of Korea with the Korean private sector, has launched a global campaign to secure support from friendly countries including Nigeria to host World Expo 2030 in Busan, South Korea with Ms. Nike Okundaye, as notable Nigerian artist as the honorary goodwill ambassador that is promoting the bid in her beautiful gallery in Lagos, Nigeria.
Dignitaries in attendance included, Bayelsa State Governor, His Excellency, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, members of diplomatic corps, government officials, politicians, business leaders, Korean nationals in Nigeria, friends of Korea and the media
Groups that performed at the occasion include KCCN Hallyu Creators, the event featured various traditional Korean and Nigerian music & dance performances like Shyne Band (Nigeria), ONEUL (Korea) and C'Fly & P'Brain (Nigeria).
The Korean food served at the occasion were provided by Korean chef Park Kyung-sook with their best effort and taste.
The national anthems was rendered by students of Nigeria-Korea Model School Abuja, a standard school built by the Korean Government to support Nigerian government goal of increasing access to education for young people in the country.