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Mayor Park of Songpa-gu welcomes envoys, spouses to Baekje Dynasty Culture FestivalTour includes a visit to 120-story Lotte Observation Tower

Ambassadors Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar, Yusuf Sharifzoda of Tajikistan, Mihai Ciompec and Chafik Rachadi of Morocco together with some 30 acting mission chiefs and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps attended the 2017 Hanseong Baekje Culture Festival at the Songpa District of the Seoul City on Sept. 24, 2017. It was at the invitation of Mayor Madam Park Choon-hee of Songpa-gu (District) of the Seoul City located south of the Han River near the Olympic Park.

Visiting ambassadors, senior diplomats and their family members clad in traditional Baekje coats pose in front of the Olympic Gate in Songpa District in Seoul.

The Festival consisted of a long parade of the representatives from various segments of society of the Baekje Dynasty that ruled the central part of the Korean peninsula for 2,000 years.
The Baekje Kingdom (18 BC to 660 AD) was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea the two others being Goguryeo in the north and Silla in the south.

Left:: Mayor Park Chun-hee of Songpa-gu welcomes the visiting ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps..

Right: Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania speaks on half of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps in response to the welcome speech by Mayor Park.

The Baekje Dynasty was founded by King Onjo, the third son of Goguryeo's Founding King Jumong and So Seo-no at Wiryeseong Fortress (southern Seoul). Baekje, like Goguryeo, claimed to succeed Buyeo, a state established in present-day Manchuria around the time of the fall of Go-Joseon (Ancident Joseon Dynasty).
The visiting ambassadors were invited to tour various historical sites at the Olympic Park where they tried their skills at releasing arrows from bow and witnessed people being punished in the ancient Baekje way beaten by big sticks on the buttocks in front of the magistrate.

A carriage-mounted ‘good luck’ creature attracts the eyes of many spectators at the scene of a recent procession in Songpa, southern Seoul

The visiting ambassadors and other senior members of the SDC accompanied by their spouses and family members were also invited to visit the ‘sky-high’ Observation Hall on the 120th floor of the Lotte World where they looked down on the ground where the buildings looked like little toys to speak nothing of the cars that were all but invisible due to their sizes.
Speaking to the guests, President & CEO Dongki Park said, “We warmly welcome Your Excellencies and Madams to Lotte World Tower and I would say that it is a great honor to receive the distinguished guests.” Then he said that he would wholeheartedly welcome the ambassadors and the senior diplomats when they visited him again.

Mayor Park Chun-hee of Songpa-gu (in sky-blue traditional Korean costume with red chima skirts) poses with the visiting ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps at a dinner she hosted for the diplomatic dignitaries at the Olympic Park Hotel south of the Han River. On her right (facing the camera) are Ambassador and Mrs. Mihai Ciompec of Romania. Publisher-Chairman and Mrs. Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media are seen fourth and third from left, front row.

Before the Festival that evening, Mayor Madam Park hosted a dinner reception at the plush Seoul Olympic Park Hotel welcoming the ambassadors and other visiting senior members of the Diplomatic Corps and their spouses. Also present at the dinner were Chairman Ahn Sung-hwa of the Songpa District Council and Director Hwang In-hwan of the Culture and Sports Division of the Songpa Ward.

Mayor Park Chun-hee of Songpa-gu (left) receives a Plaque of Appreciation from Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania who presented it on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps that day.

Warmly welcoming the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps to her Ward that evening, Mayor Park said, “Today, we host the Hanseong Baekje Culture Festival for the 17th consecutive year. It is a historical, cultural festival re-enacting the brilliant culture of the Baekje Dynasty that flourished right here in the Songpa District 2,000 years ago.”
Then she said, “This Festival has been designated as the Promising Festival by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism of Korea for four consecutive years and is a proud festival of the Songpa District that has won the Pinacle Award for the fifth consecutive year, which is rated as a World Festival Olympics. (See excerpts from her speech at the end of this report.)

Chairman Lee Kyung- sik of The Korea Post media (above) introduces the ambassadors and other senior diplomats with their spouses at a dinner hosted by Mayor Park Chun-hee of Songpa-gu. The lady below clapping her hands is Mayor Park of the Songpa District.

Her welcome speech was followed by the welcome remarks by Chairman An Sung-hwa of the Songpa District Council and Secretary General Hong Seong-man of the Songpa Culture Center.
At the main stage of the Festival that evening, the program was very interesting and featured well-known singers and drum performers who all won enthusiastic applauses from the audience as well as the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps.
The highlight of the evening was the fireworks that kept the audience in utter excitement with various colorful shapes and colors of ‘lightening’ which had only a very small sound of explosion.

Excerpts from the welcome speech of Mayor Park;
I warmly welcome the Excellencies and Madams visiting us at Songpa today to congratulate the opening of the Hanseong Culture Festival. Thank you all for visiting us today.
Today, we host the Hanseong Baekje Culture Festival for the 17th consecutive year. It is a historical, cultural festival re-enacting the brilliant culture of the Baekje Dynasty that flourished right here in the Songpa District 2,000 years ago.

Ambassador Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar (left) and the son of the ambassador of Tajikistan (right) are 'torturing' Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media in a traditional Korean Joseon Dynasty way. Members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps (and even Mrs. Lee Kyung-sik) are looking on just smiling.
Mrs. Rina Okumura-Vaivars (spouse of the Bolivian ambassador), right, with CDA and Mrs. Nadav Peldman of Israel (center and left).

Furthermore, the Haseong Baekje Culture Festival has been designated as the Promising Festival by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism for four consecutive years and is a proud festival of the Songpa District that has won the Pinnacle Award for the fifth consecutive year, which is rated as the World Festival Olympics.

We will continue to develop the Song District into one of the world’s best historical, cultural and tourist city where the past and present beautifully co-exist, i.e., the cultural legacies of the Hanseong of Baekje, beautiful natural surroundings and the Lotte Tower, the landmark of the Republic of Korea.

Mayor Madamr Park Chun-hee of the Songpa District (10th from left, front row in yellow coat) is seen with the leading membes of the Songpa District Government in the front row with ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps immediately behind them and the rear rows.

Once again, I would like to express my hearty gratitude and welcome to the Excellencies, Madams and other members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps for their visiting us today at Songpa which and has gained a fitting name, a very nice place to live in.
I will look forward to active cooperation and exchanges between all the visiting dignities and the Songpa District, and express my hopes that cooperation and interaction between Songpa and all the major cities around the world will continue to grow and prosper with the passage of time.

Mayor Park Chun-hee and Vice Chairman Yoon Young-no of The Korea Post media pose together

Biography of Mayor Park:
First name : Chun- hee
Last name : Park
Education:
Master of Public Administration, Graduate School of Public Administration, Pusan National University
Graduated from Pusan National University
Graduated from Gyeongnam Women’s High School
Career:
President of Student Council, Judicial Research & Training Institute
Adjunct Professor, Chodang University
Member of Professor Evaluation Committee, Seoul Bar Association
Member of Committee on Legal Support for the Elderly, Korean Bar Association
Vice Chairman of Legal Council Organization for the Presidential Election
5th Mayor of Songpa-gu elected by popular vote
Current status:
Lawyer
Member of Local Tax Evaluation Committee, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Member of Committee of Legal Support on Redevelopment and Reconstruction, Korean Bar Association
Member of Family Coordination Committee, Seoul Family Court
Legal Advisory Member for Citizen’s Alliance for Fair Election
Member of Legal Council Committee, National Citizens’ Alliance for Fair Election
Mayor of Songpa-gu

A brass band of young men and women pass in front of the viewing stand of the leaders of the Songpa District, including Mayor Madam Park Chun-hee.

About the Songpa County:
History:
The name of the District has been called Songpa by the hill with many pine trees from the Goryo dynasty which was located in Han river was Gojoson sphere with establishing ancient country as living Neolithic people from the prehistoric times. This place which was the capital of Baekje from King Onjo who is progenitor to King Gaero of 21 generations during about 493 years was a struggle for power among Baekje, Goguryo, and Silla from the late 4th century through the late 7th century.

Jamsil is called eastern jamsil and Ferry Songpa near the current Seokchon lake was an important merchant traffic route connecting Hansung, Chungcheong province, and Gyeongsang province for 1000 years.
Songpa marketplace was not a five-day market but formed permanent shop is the center of collecting local fruits and one of the 15 generations marketplace.

President Park Dong-ki of Lotte World Tower (left, foreground) explains to the visiting ambassadors and other senior members of the Diplomaic Corps about the 123-story Lotte World Tower in Songpa District. It is the tallest building in Korea and the frourth tallest building in the world.

Origin of Hanseong Baekje
Hanseong Baekje refers to an ancient Korean kingdom of Baekje when it was founded on the middle and lower reaches of the Han River basin, including today’s Songpa, in 18 BCE, and developed itself into a powerful centralized state cultivating its own culture until 475 when it was forced to set up a new capital in the south.
It was in 5 BCE that Songpa today was chosen to become the capital of early Baekje by its founder Onjo. According to historical records, Onjo and his brother Biryu moved southwards to today’s Seoul after outstanding contribution made for the establishment of Goguryeo achieved by their father, Jumong.

Ambassadors and other senior diplomts pose for the camera shortly before riding a super-speed elevator to the the top-floor observation tower. In spite of the height, the high-speed elevaors carried the guests up to the top floor in less than a minute. The Korea Post President Kim Hyung-dae counted the time and said, "53 seconds."

Onjo settled down in Wiryeseong north of the Han River while Biryu set up the base for his own kingdom in Michuhol, today’s Incheon. Some time later, Biryu of Michulhol found that the people of Wiryeseong living under his brother’s rule were leading much more prosperous and peaceful life than those under his leadership.
He was overwhelmed by a sense of shame which eventually led him to his untimely death. The Biryu’s territory and people were then handed over to his brother Onjo, resulting in the foundation of a new capital in today’s Songpa in 5 BCE. His kingdom, Baekje, since then grew fast into a powerful, centralized state, producing lasting cultural achievements.
In 493, King Munju moved the capital to Ungjin (today’s Gongju) in the south, ending the kingdom’s Hanseong Era which lasted almost 500 years.

Visiting diplomats trying their skills in using an ancient bow of Korea.

Songpa's Tourist Attractions:
Olympic Park
The Park has a total of six stadiums around Mongchon Toseong area. Green areas were formed in Mongchon Toseong and surrounding area, Olympic Center and 5 stadiums(gymnastics, weight lifting, fencing, tennis, velodrome) were built in 1986, Olympic swimming pool and sculpture park were added in 1988, and finally Seoul Olympics were held. Special fabric was used for ceilings of gymnastics/fencing stadiums that could penetrate 10% of sunlight; lightings are auto-controllable and the auditorium was specially designed to adjust the size. Outside wall of weight lifting stadium has a modern look with semi-transparent fiber class panels.
Seoul Olympic Park was built in Mongchon Toseong site(Historic Site No. 297), a 2,285m-long historic site of ancient capital of Baekje.

Ambassadors and other senior diplomats and their spouses in traditional Baekje attire.

In the Park, there are Olympic monuments including ‘Peace Gate’, ‘Meeting in Seoul’ and ‘Wall of Glory’ and Mongchon History Museum where early Baekje remains are exhibited; over 200 sculptures commissioned to famous modern sculptors from 66 countries are also exhibited. In addition, Seoul Olympic Parktel was opened in September 1990; there is Seoul Olympic Memorial Hall that shows everything and anything related to Seoul Olympics.
Olympic Park is a great educational place for history, art, culture, sports and leisure at the same time; the park is used for sports and cultural and art performances. (424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea)

Seokchon Lake
In Jamsil plain, north of Seokchon Lake, there was a ferry in the south of west lake; however earth and sand formed an island, therefore large river composed of Songpa river and Shincheon river crossing Seokchon Lake was created flowing from Gwangjin bridge from Jamsil ball park.
The river was filled up except some part during river bed development in Han river main stream in 1969; the lake renovated in early 1980s then became a park.
As Songpa Road was opened, Songpa Naru Park divided into east and west lake; the park shows perfect combination of lake and park, which has jogging and walking paths to provide resting place for people.

Ambassador Mohammed Chafik Rachadi of Morocco pounds on a big lump of rice dough to make rice cakes.

Lotte World Tower
What do Dubai, Taipei, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur have in common? These cities all have a world-class high-rise that is symbolic to its country and has become one of the country’s most recognized tourist attractions. In 2015, Seoul will have completed the LotteWorld Tower, which will symbolize the beauty of Korea and become a true tourist landmark. At 123 floors above ground, and 6 floors below ground, the 555m LotteWorld Tower will become the second tallest building in the world, and it will be a world attraction that will be visited by 2.5 million tourists each year. An observation deck, a 6 star hotel, a premium executive office, and art gallery will be located on the highest floor of the tower. The world’s fifth largest shopping mall, along with a theater and other cultural venues, as well as education and research facilities will be on the lower levels. All these in planning will be connected to Lotte World 2 (under construction), to realize a truly comprehensive shopping complex. The Lotte World Tower will be built with state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly construction technology, and will incorporate the subtle lines that Korean design is famous for. The construction is aimed to make the building green and sustainable, in terms of energy efficiency, and will apply numerous eco-friendly technologies to achieve the highest rating as a green building in Korea, as well as a LEED GOLD certificate from the renowned USGBC ( 29, Sincheon-dong).

Mrs. Edit Csaba, spouse of the Hungarian ambassador, tries on a ancient wooden gear used in preventing a prisoner from escape.

Festivals/Performances:
Hanseong Baekje Culture Festival:
Before 2000 years, in the songpagu during October every year Hanseong Baekje Cultural Festival, the biggest local historical cultural festival, is reproduced platinum age of Hanseong Baekje which flourished splendid culture and art in the early 500 years of Baekje and selected only cultural sightseeing festival of Seoul festival from Ministry of Culture in 2008. The historical cultural street march offers us various sightseeing in the downtown Opening and closing ceremony, Also, because of opening traditional and international food marketplace, we eat our traditional food as well as exotic various food.
Name of the event: Hanseong Baekje Cultural Festival
Theme: Hanseong Baekje boasting 2,000 years of history as the capital
Period: October every year
Venue: Olympic Park, Wiryeseong Daero, Pungnap-dong Gyeongdang History Park, ancient tombs in Seokchon-dong
Annual Seoul Folk Festival:
To support and succeed Korean traditional folk art by inviting National/City/Do-appointed intangible cultural properties for performances in Seoul Nori Madang, a regular place for traditional cultural art performances.

A parade shows yellow phenix birds symbolizing Baekju.

Brief history of the Baekje Kingdom:
The Baekje Kingdom alternately battled and allied with Goguryeo and Silla kingdoms as the three kingdoms expanded control over the peninsula. At its peak in the 4th century, Baekje controlled most of the western Korean peninsula, as far north as Pyongyang, and may have even held territories in China, such as in Liaoxi, though this view is controversial. It became a significant regional sea power, with political and trade relations with China and Japan.
Baekje was a great maritime power; its nautical skill, which made it the Phoenicia of East Asia, was instrumental in the dissemination of Buddhism throughout East Asia and continental culture to Japan.
In 660 it was defeated, by an alliance of Silla and the Chinese Tang Dynasty, and submitted to Unified Silla.
Samguk Sagi (Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) provides a detailed account of Baekje's founding. Jumong had left his son Yuri in Buyeo when he left that kingdom to establish the new kingdom of Goguryeo. Jumong became Divine King Dongmyeong, and had two more sons with So Seo-no, Onjo and Biryu. When Yuri later arrived in Goguryeo, Jumong promptly made him the crown prince. Realizing Yuri would become the next king, So Seo-no left Goguryeo, taking her two sons Biryu and Onjo south to found their own kingdoms with their people, along with ten vassals. She is remembered as a key figure in the founding of both Goguryeo and Baekje.
King Onjo settled in the Wiryeseong Fortress (located today’s Bangi-dong of the Songpagu District), and called his country Sipje meaning "Ten Vassals"), while Biryu settled in Michuhol (present-day Incheon), against the vassals' advice. The salty water and marshes in Michuhol made settlement difficult, while the people of Wiryeseong lived prosperously.
Biryu then went to his brother Onjo, asking for the throne of Sipje. When Onjo refused, Biryu declared war, but lost. In shame, Biryu committed suicide, and his people moved to Wiryeseong, where King Onjo welcomed them and renamed his country Baekje (?undred Vassals?.

A Baekje court princess and prince ride a sedan chair waited on by court ladies behind them.

King Onjo moved the capital from the south to the north of the Han river, and then south again, probably all within present Seoul, under pressure from other Mahan states. King Gaeru is believed to have moved the capital north of the river to Bukhansanseong in 132, probably in present-day Goyang to the northwest of Seoul.
Through the early centuries of the Common Era, sometimes called the Proto Three Kingdoms Period, Baekje gradually gained control over the other Mahan tribes.
King Geunchogo (346-375) expanded Baekje's territory to the north through war against Goguryeo, while annexing the remaining Mahan societies in the south. During Geunchogo? reign, the territories of Baekje included most of the western Korean Peninsula (except the two Pyeongan provinces), and in 371, Baekje defeated Goguryeo at Pyongyang. Baekje continued substantial trade with Goguryeo, and actively adopted Chinese culture and technology. Buddhism became the official state religion in 384.
Baekje also became a sea power and continued mutual goodwill relationships with the Japanese rulers of the Kofun period, transmitting continental cultural influences to Japan. The Chinese writing system, Buddhism, advanced pottery, ceremonial burial, and other aspects of culture were introduced by aristocrats, artisans, scholars, and monks throughout their relationship.

'Big Guys' and 'Big Girls' wear a sash reading, "Songpa is a very nice place to live in!"

Under pressure from Goguryeo to the north and Silla to the east, King Seong sought to strengthen Baekje's relationship with China. The location of Sabi, on the navigable Geum River, made contact with China much easier, and both trade and diplomacy flourished during his reign and continuing on into the 7th century.
In 660, the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China attacked Baekje, which was then allied with Goguryeo. A heavily outmanned army led by General Gyebaek was defeated in the Battle of Hwangsanbeol near Nonsan. The capital Sabi fell almost immediately thereafter, resulting in the annexation of Baekje by Silla. King Uija and his son Buyeo Yung were sent into exile in China while at least some of the ruling class fled to Japan.
Baekje forces attempted a brief restoration movement but faced Silla-Tang joint forces. A Buddhist monk Dochim and the former Baekje general Buyeo Boksin rose to try to revive Baekje. They welcomed the Baekje prince Buyeo Pung back from Japan to serve as king, with Juryu in modern Seocheon County, South Chungcheong Province as their headquarters.

Chare d'Affaires Diomedes Carles of Panama (center) with family members try their skills in using spear and shield

Partial list of participants in the tour:
Ambassador Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar with Mrs. Nang Lao Ngin
Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania with Mrs. Ciompec and family members
Ambassador Yusuf Sharifzoda of Tajikistan with Mrs. Sayora Sharifzoda and family members and Attache)
Ambassador Chafik Rachadi of Morocco with Mrs. Rachadi, (spouse of the ambassador of Morocco)
Mrs. Rina Okumura-Vaivaras (spouse of the ambassador of Latvia)
Charge d?ffaires (CDA) Nadav Peldman of Israel with Mrs. Michal Carmo
CDA Mrs. Afef Foughali Abdelbari of Tunisia
Mr. Ali Abdelbari, spouse of Charge d' Affaires of Tunisia
CDA Diomedes Carles of Panama with Mrs. Aurora Medina De Carles
Mrs. Venus Cardenas, Family of the Charge d' Affaires
Mr. Panko Panov, Deputy Head of Mission & Attache of Bulgaria
Mrs. Snezhanka Panova, spouse of the Deputy Head of Mission & Attache of Bulgaria k

Kim Su-a  edt@koeapost.com

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