PEOPLE & EVENTS
Germany shows special sympathy
at National Day party for Korean division
Ambassador and Mrs. Rolf Mafael of Germany hosted a reception at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on Oct. 8, 2013 to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of reunion of their country (Tag der Deutschen Einheit 2013). It was one of the largest diplomatic functions of the year with Korean, German and other international VIP guests literally filling the spacious Grand Ballroom of the Hotel to the brim.
At the party were many Korean society figures not frequently seen at other diplomatic functions, who included a good number of Saenuri Party National Assembly members. Among them were Reps. Chung Mong-joon (actual chairman of Hyundai Heavy Industries), Nam Kyung-pil (reform-minded young politician), Yi Jae-oh (righthand man of former President Lee Myung-bak), Chung Moon-hun, Kim Dong-wan, Kim Hee-jung, Lee Hyun-jae, Park Dae-dong, Shim Yun-jo, Lee Wan-young, Park In-sook, and Yoon Myung-hee. There also were former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo and former Saenuri Party Assemblyman Park Jin who had headed the Foreign Relations and National Security Committee of the Assembly.
However, especially attracting the attention of the guests at the party was Dr. Paik Young-hoon, chairman of the Korean Industrial Development Institute (KIDI), who played the important role of a bridge between Korea and Germany assisting the then President Park Chung-hee who sought badly needed finance from Germany in achieving the ‘Miracles of the Han River’ (miraculously rapid economic development of Korea from the debris of the Korean War and the badly divided politico-social-economic conditions of South Korea at the time.
Park then was a military coup leader and love was very much lost between the then President John F. Kennedy of the United States and Park and nothing that was asked from the US came when Park badly needed money for the reconstruction of South Korea from the miserable state.
Park turned to Germany perhaps believing in the time-honored Korean adage that “a widow knows the sorrows of a widower.” The Korean wise-saying proved true.
Germany sympathized with Korea and some German banks were ready to lend Park money. On this is the famous tear-jerking story of the young Korean miners and nurses (most of them university and college graduates) who volunteered to work in Germany as Korea at the time had no other collateral for the loan. When President Park visited and met the Korean miners and nurses, according to some Korean witnesses, the emotional reunion between Park and the Korean workers created a ‘pool of tears’ from Park and the Korean workers.
Many Koreans consider Germany as the original cause (benefactor) of the miraculous economic successes achieved by the late President Park who is the father of the incumbent President Park Geun-hye. The important bridge between Korea and Germany at the time was laid by Chairman Dr. Paik of KIDI.
From the German and international communities came many guests as well as from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, including many mission chiefs. They included Ambassadors Mohammad Yunos Farman of Afghanistan, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Koro Bessho of Japan, Bakisher Dulat of Kazakhstan and Watte Walawwe Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka. There also were many defense attaches from the different embassies accompanied by their spouses, who included Brigadier Generals Angel Gonzalez Castillo of Mexico and Joseph Jean Jacques Lemay of the United Kingdom.
The German National Day party was also one of the best managed parties. As in the case of the National Day reception of Brunei Darussalam at Grand Hyatt Seoul on Sept. 12, 2013 (page 73, The Korea Post September 2013 issue), strange ‘guests’ were nowhere to be seen, who usually showed poor manners at other diplomatic functions, sometime forcing their way into guests for photo-taking where they were not invited. They also came to diplomatic functions with several other people who had obviously not been invited. Also missing from the party were some people who used to bring Korean-language publications of questionable reputation and status (some not even registered with the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism as an authorized periodical), and tried to take picture with ambassadors and/or Korean VIP guests with the people they had brought.
Speaking to the guests, the Vice Minister of Finance of Germany, German-side co-chair of the Korean-German Forum, said that Germany and Korea shared a common task - Germany trying to overcome the outcome of the reunification achieved 23 years ago and Korea still facing the division of the country.
Vice Minister Koschyk said that Korea should not give up its courage and hope and that the enormous achievement such as the reunification of a divided country will never be made if people will not pursue it with a lot of patience for a long time.
Ambassador Mafael said in his welcome speech that last spring when North Korea threatened a war making the foreign investors in Korea worried German companies repeated announced their additional investment plans in Korea, which was a clear message that Germans had firm trust in Korea’s potential and bright future.
Then he said that the volume of bilateral trade which was US$10 billion in 2002 jumped more than double to US$25 billion last year and that German visitors to Korea also increased two-fold from 500,000 to one million.
He also said that Hyundai and KIA were the only automobile companies in Germany, who made a double-digit growth last year.
There also was a music performance that added to the pleasant party ambience. It was presented by a five-member troupe of Weinarer Blaserquintett Korea-Tournee.