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Amb. Fen of Uzbekistan goes back home, leaves heart behind in Korea

UZBEKISTAN

After 18 years of successful tour of duty in Korea

Amb. Fen of Uzbekistan goes back home,

leaves heart behind in Korea

Ambassador Vitali V. Fen of Uzbekistan and Mrs. Lyudmila S. Fen hosted a farewell luncheon reception at the Crystal Ballroom of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Aug. 16, 2013. Ambassador has successfully his tour of duty in Korea for the past 18 years. He also served as the dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps greatly contributing to the promotion of goodwill, cooperation and friendship between Korea and the countries represented by their resident ambassadors--as well as between Korea and Uzbekistan.

Left photo on opposite page shows a Silver Plate of Friendship presented by the incoming dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Dato Haji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam in Seoul. Right photo shows Ambassador Fen of Uzbekistan and Mrs. Fen (21st and 20th from left) with the ambassadors of many countries. They include the ambassadors from United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Turkey, Belarus, Brazil, the Philippines, Oman, Brunei Darussalam (new dean of SDC), Bolivia, Honduras, Uruguay, Venezuela, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Panama, Georgia, Tunisia, El Salvador, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Cambodia. Many other countries were represented by the charge d'affaires and other senior members of the embassies.

Among the Korean guests in attendance at the luncheon were First Vice Minister Kim Kyou-hyun of Foreign Affairs, former National Assembly Speaker Lee Man-sup, former National Assemblyman Kim Yong-gu, Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, and the leaders of the prominent economic, social and cultural organizations, including business corporations.

It is difficult to introduce all the ambassadors and madams in attendance because the number was too large to be accommodated in the limited space. Readily visible from them were ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Turkey, Belarus, Brazil, the Philippines, Oman, Brunei Darussalam (new dean of SDC), Bolivia, Honduras, Uruguay, Venezuela, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Panama, Georgia, Tunisia, El Salvador, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Cambodia.

Ambassador Vitali V. Fen of Uzbekistan (right) and First Vice Minister Kim Kyou-hyun of Foreign Affairs of Korea. Vice Mini-ster Kim said: "Today, Uzbekistan is not only our largest trade partner in Central Asia, but also a vital partner in numerous e-conomic projects of considerable magnitude. Needless to say, Ambassador Fen has been behind it all, diligently playing the role of a bridge that pulls our two countries ever closer."

Attendance of the ambassadors and their spouses mentioned above is exceptionally significant in the fact that many ambassadors such as Ambassador Konstantin Vnukov of Russia were on leave and that it was during the Ramadam Fasting Period of the Islamic countries. The Islamic ambassadors in attendance at the reception were obviously fasting.

At the lobby in front of the entrance to the Crystal Ballroom were collections of photographs showing the important events that took place during his 18 years of tour of duty in Korea. Among them were those showing President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan with Korean Presidents Lee Myung- bak, Roh Moo-hyun, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam. There also were photos of Ambassador Fen taken with Korean Presidents, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo.

First Vice Minister Kim Foreign Affairs praises Am-bassador Fen of Uzbekistan. Kim said in part: ?hile it is indeed rare to see a diplomat staying in the same post for such a long time, it is rarer still to find some-one as passionate and competent as Ambassador Fen. In that sense, Korea has been truly fortunate to have him as our trusted partner in advancing Korea-Uzbekistan relations.

Speaking to the guests, Ambassador Fen said: “Over the past almost 18 years I have been given by the Government of Uzbekistan the high privilege to represent my country in Korea. One can agree that this is quite a long assignment for a diplomat in one particular country. Therefore, I am very much grateful to President Islam Karimov for entrusting to me to serve my country and promote its interests in Korea which, as many of you know, is the homeland of my ancestors.” (See excerpts from his speech toward the end of this Article.)

From left: Mrs. Fen, Ambassador Sung Kim of the United States, Ambassador Vitali Fen of Uzbekistan and Mrs. Kim. Ambassador Fen was the first Korean-descent ambassador of a foreign country to Korea, which was followed by Ambassador Kim of the US to Kore-
a. They do a great deal promoting relations between the two countries.

In response to Ambassador Fen’s farewell remarks, First Vice Minister Kim said, “I feel great joy as well as a tinge of sadness as we are gathered here to bid farewell to Ambassador Fen after no less than 18 years of sterling service here in Seoul.”

Then he said, “As is widely known, Ambassador Fen has led the ‘Ambassadors in Love with Korea’ Club (‘한사모’) with great passion, almost acting as a Korean ambassador in zealously spreading Korean culture and values to a wider audience.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this Article.)

The speeches were followed by presentation of plaques of appreciation, including the Silver Plate of Friendship presented by the incoming dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Dato Haji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam and a Plaque of Appreciation by Publisher-Chairman of The Korea Post (an English-Korean media that operates four separate units [one English print monthly, one English e-daily, one English Internet and one Korean-language Internet]).

The third photo in the top showed President Kim Young-sam with Ambassador Fen and the fourth photo in the same row -
showed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Ambassador Fen. The left photo in the second row showed Pri-me Minister Lee Hong-koo and the second photo from left in the same row shows President Roh Moo-hyun and President Isl-am Karimov of Uzbekistan during Roh's visit to Uzbekistan; the second photo from left in the bottom row shows President L-
ee Myung-bak and President Karimov at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul flanked by the two First Ladies; and the last photo from l-eft shows Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se presenting a Silver Plate to Ambassador Fen; and the first photo from left at the bo-ttom row shows President Lee Myung-bak meeting with Ambassador and Mrs. Fen of Uzbekistan with a number of other a- mbassadors.

Third photo from left at the top row shows President Lee and President Karimov with their First Ladies during Lee's visit to Uzbekistan; the second photo from left at the second row shows President Kim Dae-jung and President Karimov during Karimov's visit to Seoul; and the last photo at the bottom row shows Amb. and Mrs. Fen of Uzbekistan with Amb. and Mrs. Dato Jaji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam during a 'change of command' ceremony at the Embassy of Uzbekistan, where Amb. Fen turned over the deanship of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps to Amb. Ismail.

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Vitali Fen:
First of all, let me extend my sincere appreciation to all guests for joining this reception organized on the occasion of completion of my mission in Seoul as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to South Korea.

Today it is a special and at the same day an overwhelming day for me because the time has come to say good bye to you. Over the past almost 18 years I have been given by the Government of Uzbekistan the high privilege to represent my country in Korea. One can agree that this is quite a long assignment for a diplomat in one particular country. Therefore, I am very much grateful to President Islam Karimov for entrusting to me to serve my country and promote its interests in Korea which, as many of you know, is the homeland of my ancestors.

Mentally looking back and evaluating the dynamics of the development of Uzbek-Korean relations over these years, I feel self-satisfaction with the fact that I’ve been able to make my own contribution to advancing mutually beneficial and multifaceted cooperation between Tashkent and Seoul that over this period has risen to a level of strategic partnership.

Mrs. Lyudmilla Fen (spouse of the Uzbek ambassador), ninth from left, poses with the spouses of other ambassadors.

I have had an honor to work with five administrations of South Korea and I can state that, regardless of which political party was in power, the relationship between Korea and Uzbekistan traditionally had a friendly nature that predetermined their further development.

I am proud by the fact that during my ambassadorship there have been exchanges of 12 states visits between the leaders of our two countries. In addition there has been laid a solid legal foundation for bilateral cooperation on all areas.

Left photo shows Ambassador Vitali Fen (left) receiving a Plaque of Appreciation by P- ublisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post. Right photo shows incoming Dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Dato Jaji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam making a farewell speech for outgoing Dean Ambassador Vitali Fen of Uzbekistan.

I would like to especially highlight my collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea. Over such a long period of stay in Seoul I have had an honor to come to know many Foreign Ministers who all, by no exception, were true professionals. In particular, I warmly recall my joint work with His Excellency Ban Ki-moon ? the outstanding personality with fundamental knowledge on foreign relations who today successfully heads the United Nations.

I have always felt special support from members of the National Assembly of Korea who rendered important assistance in backing-up Embassy’s efforts in extending mutually beneficial cooperation between our two nations. For that I am truly indebted to them.

Taking this opportunity I would like also to express my deep appreciation to representatives of Korean business circles for their overall support of advancing trade-economic and investment cooperation with Uzbekistan. Thanks to their efforts in my country a number of large-scale joint investment projects have been successfully implemented and currently continue to be carried out. Among them I want to especially note the construction of the Ustyurt Gas-Chemical Complex on a Surgil deposit worth of more than $4 billion. The completion of this project would be another landmark in Uzbek-South Korean investment cooperation.

I have also had a high privilege over the past 6 years to be the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Seoul. I have worked with numerous outstanding ambassadors who were true experts on foreign affairs. With the majority of them I have forged genuine friendship that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

My successes would not have been possible without “a solid fortress” back home. I am blessed that Lyudmila -- my faithful wife and the most close and reliable friend -- has been such a fortress. I am grateful for her unwavering support during joyful and difficult times in our joint life. In Seoul Lyudmila has always tried to support my efforts in maintaining friendly atmosphere among the members of the Diplomatic Corps by promoting close relationship between spouses of foreign ambassadors and actively involving them to take part in joint events organized along with various Korean women’s organizations.

And finally, today I would like to thank my able staff who through their daily work make their own contribution to further expanding and strengthening Uzbekistan’s relations with Korea. I want to tell them: “I have always felt and highly appreciated your work. Thank you very much for that”.

In conclusion, I would like once again to thank all guests of this event. As they say, every journey has its beginning and end. Today I am completing my mission as Uzbekistan Ambassador to Korea and will be heading home. However, I want to assure you that warm recollections about joint collaboration with my Korean partners and colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps will be with me for many years to come.

I wish all guests robust health, every successes in your endeavors, happiness, well-being and prosperity.

Ambassador Dato Jaji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam (new dean of Seoul Diplomatic Corps) admires outgoing dean, Ambassador Vitali Fen of Uzbekistan, who is seen on the left in the photo.

Excerpts from the remarks of Vice Minister Kim of Foreign Affairs:

Ambassador Fen's love affair with Korea stretches back a long, long time. He first came to Seoul as the deputy chief of the Uzbek delegation participating in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He has been an ever-present in the Diplomatic Corps after being appointed first as Charge d'affaires and later on as Ambassador of Uzbekistan in 1995, and has served the role of Dean with such distinction since 2007.

Just to give you a sense of his longevity, he has outlasted 4 Presidents and 12 Foreign Ministers during his time in Seoul.

While it is indeed rare to see a diplomat staying in the same post for such a long time, it is rarer still to find someone as passionate and competent as Ambassador Fen. In that sense, Korea has been truly fortunate to have him as our trusted partner in advancing Korea-Uzbekistan relations.

Ever since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, Korea and Uzbekistan have witnessed a quantum leap in our bilateral relations. In particular, we have struck up a 'Strategic Partnership' in 2006 and oversaw a flurry of exchange of visits between our Presidents in recent years.

Today, Uzbekistan is not only our largest trade partner in Central Asia, but also a vital partner in numerous economic projects of considerable magnitude. Needless to say, Ambassador Fen has been behind it all, diligently playing the role of a bridge that pulls our two countries ever closer.

I heard that there is a saying in Uzbekistan that "a person who can win the trust of one person can win the trust of a thousand persons." It is a theme also endorsed by the Park Geun-hye government in the name of Trustpolitik, and I cannot think of anyone who better personifies the essence of the phrase than Ambassador Fen. The dedication and selflessness that he has displayed throughout his service in Seoul has been a fine example for us all.

As I draw my remarks to a close, I must confess that I have a slight worry. Once Ambassador Fen returns to Tashkent, he might have to bear the brunt of disgruntled colleagues pointing fingers at him for depriving them the chance to serve in Seoul. But then again, who can blame him for staying as long as he possibly could in this beautiful country? There is no doubt that both Korea and Uzbekistan have been the richer for his excursions in Seoul.

Finally, a personal word of farewell for Ambassador Fen : "Fabula est vestri" which means "The story is yours".

And what a story it has been, a story of friendship and prosperity that we will continue to author together long into the future.

Ambassador Fen, I would like to thank you on behalf of my government for the starring role that you have played to perfection in this wonderful story. We will never forget you. k

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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