UPDATE : 2018.9.25 TUE 18:42
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Envoys attend Tug-of-War Festival, visit Hyundai Steel, Sacred Land

On the occasion of the 2014 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Culture Festival

Ambassadors of Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Guatemala, Colombia, Turkey, Poland, Serbia (CDA) and El Salvador (CDA) and other senior diplomats of Ukraine, the Lao Republic, Jordan and Vietnam attended the 2014 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival on April 11, 2014, many of them accompanied by their spouses. In the case of Poland and Turkey, the spouses of the ambassadors attended the tour on behalf of the ambassadors.

▲Ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses make a Thumbs-up sign with officials from the Dangjin City in front of the Dangjin City Gijisi Tug-of-War Museum.

On the way to the Dangjin City, the ambassadors and other senior diplomats visited the Sacred Land of Catholic Martyr St. Kim Dae-geon, which is scheduled to be visited by the Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio in August this year. The Sacred Had many monuments and information materials concerning St. Kim, including the home where he was born and records showing how the Korean Catholic believers in their early days during the rule of the late period of the Joseon Dynasty.

▲Ambassadors, other senior diplomats and spouses listen to the explanation given by Father Paul Lee Yong-ho, rector of the Shrine of Solmoe

The tour of the Sacred Land of St. Kim was followed by a tour of the Hyundai Steel in Dangjin and a luncheon at the plush Guest House of the company, where a welcome ceremony was held for the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats.

Vice Mayor Cho Yi-Hyon acted for the mayor of the Dangjin City because Mayor Lee Cheol-hwan was unable to officially attend the meeting as it was in violation of the Election Management Law because Lee was running for the June 4 mayoral election for the Dangjin City.

▲The Birthplace of Catholic Martyr St. Andrew Kim Dae-geon in Dangjin

At the welcome luncheon, civic figures and officials of the Dangjin City and the Chungcheongnam-do province were introduced by an official of the Dangjin City Government and the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats were introduced by Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

▲Ambassador Wijeratne of Sri Lanka and Vice Mayor Cho (seated fifth and sixth from lefts, respectively) poses with other ambassadors and senior diplomats together with the Dangjin City officials and management of the Hyundai Steel at the Guest House of the Hyundai Steel.

Speaking to the guests, Vice Mayor Cho said in part: “The Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War was very special as it was the largest such event in the world with the ropes used extending over 200 meters, measuring one meter in thickness and weighting 40 tons.”

▲Ambassador Wijeratne (left) presents a Plaque of Appreciation to Vice Mayor Cho Yi-hyon who received it on behalf of Mayor Lee Cheol-hwan of the Dangjin City. Mayor Lee was not available due to the requirement of the Election Management Law providing the candidate from appearing in public gatherings other than designed by the Committee.

Then he said that Dangjin had three major industrial namely, Godae, Bugok and Seokmun, with a Steel Industrial Complex developed near Hyundai Steel and that Dangjin had one port and two highways, giving it excellent conditions for logistics. (See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this Article.)

▲Ambassadors, other senior diplomats, their spouses and some Dangjin city officials pull the ropes to win the miniature form of Dangjin Gijisity Tug-of-War.

The welcome speech of Vice Mayor Cho was reciprocated by a congratulatory speech by Ambassador Tissa Wijaratne of Sri Lanka, who was the most senior among all the ambassadors and performed the role of the dean of the visiting members of the Seoul Diploma Corps.

▲Mrs. Majka brushwrites on the blank space of a traditional Korean folding fan

Ambassador Wijerate said in part: “Experiencing Korean culture is always a great joy and fun and at the same time it allows foreigners to learn about Korean beauty and give positive cultural insights. So I am expecting new experiences by participating in Tug-of-War and other events today. It is actually a great privilege to watch one of the best Korean intangible cultural assets, and wish it is successfully registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2015.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this Article.)

▲Ambassadors and spouses execute calligraphic works on the Korean folding fans that were given to the brushwriters

Before the luncheon began, Ambassador Wijeratne presented a Plaque of Appreciation to the mayor of the Dangjin City on behalf of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps in appreciation of the mayor’s invitation of the diplomats to the Festival. The Plaque read: “I present this Plaque of Appreciation to Honorable Mayor Lee Cheol-Hwan of the Dangjin City of Chungcheongnam-do on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps for his kind invitation to the 2014 Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Culture Festival on April 11, 2014. The Festival greatly contributes to our understanding of the Korean culture as well as promotion of friendship and cooperation between Korea and our countries.”

▲Ambassadors, senior diplomats and wives show the Korean folding fans on which they have brushwritten their expressions.

Following the luncheon, the ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps visited the Gijisi Tug-of-War Museum and changed into the traditional Korean costumes of the Joseon Dynasty nobility and had a Gijisi tug-of-war match divided into two different teams (Northern Group and Southern Group) joined by some citizens of the Dangjin City. They had three matches and the team winning two matches was declared the winner.

The ambassadors and other senior diplomats then were invited to a fan-drawing tent where they were given a blank fan each and were asked to draw any painting they wanted or any calligraphic work to boast their skill. Some of them painted a real good Korean landscape on the fan using black ink and coloring materials.

▲Ambassador Grecia Fiordalicia Pichardo Polanco of the Domiican Republic holding a traditional Korean calligraphic scroll with Mr. Victor Decamps (her husband) done by noted Korean Classic Scholar Professor Lee Sang-ik.

Korea’s noted calligrapher, Professor Lee Sang-ik who was invited to the tour as an editorial writer of The Korea Post, brushwrote some poetic expression in Hanja (Chinese characters) on the fan of some of the diplomats.

Welcome speech by Vice Mayor Cho I-Hyun of Dangjin City (acting as the Mayor as required by the election management law during the election period):

Today, when the air is filled with the fragrance of spring, we would like to warmly welcome the Excellencies and Madams who are visiting Dangjin City, the home of Gijisi Juldarigi (tug of war), with its 500 years of tradition.

Excellencies and other members of the Diplomatic Corps and foreign correspondents who have taken time out of their busy schedule to be here today, we offer our deep appreciation to you all.

This event to which the diplomatic mission chiefs in Korea have been invited since 2012 is now marking its third anniversary. We are overjoyed to see new guests side by side with familiar guests whom we are so pleased to see again. We know you have taken much trouble to come all this way in the chilly spring weather so early in the morning.

▲From left: Mrs. Maria Claudia Latorre (wife of the ambassador of Colombia), Ambassador Tito Saul Pinilla of Colombia, Mrs. Zofia Majka (wife of the Polish ambassador), Ambassador and Mrs. Wijeratne of Sri Lanka.

As you might have noticed from sight of the industrial parks on the way here, Dangjin City is the most vigorously developing area in the Republic of Korea and is as competitive as any city in Korea with unlimited growth potential.

▲Photo shows, from right, noted Korean Calligrapher-Professor Lee Sang-ik, Vice Mayor Cho Yi-hyon (acting mayor of Dangjin City), Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post and former Director Choi Chi-pyong of the Korean Educational Institute of the Korean Consulate General in St. Pao, Brazil.

Dangjin has three Industrial complexes, namely, Godae, Bugok and Seokmun, with a Steel Industrial Complex developed near Hyundai Steel Co., Ltd. Dangjin has one port and two highways, giving it excellent conditions for logistics. Quite a few foreign companies prefer to invest here and we would greatly appreciate your keen attention and promotion as well.

▲Mrs. Zofia Majka (wife of the Polish ambassador) at right is all smiles posing with Vice Mayor Cho Yi-hyon of Dangjin with a flower bouquet

As will be introduced through videos in a little while, Dangjin is a very happy and livable city where agriculture and industry, culture and tourism are developing together harmoniously.

Inter Alia, Gijisi Juldarigi you will experience today is one of the best and most important intangible cultural properties of the Republic of Korea and is a cultural tourism festival that represents Dangjin Gijisi Juldarigi which was designated as a promising festivals by the Government last year. The rope being used is 200 meters long, 1 meter thick, and weighs 40 tons.

▲Ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses are mingling happily with the local citizens as well as members of the farmers’ band.

This is the largest rope in the whole world and it takes 30 technicians full 60 days non-stop to make it.

The number of individuals participating in a single game is 300,000 persons who pull the rope in opposite directions at the same time. This makes it the largest folk festival on the planet.

a

▲Mrs. Marta Nunez Madriz (wife of the Costarican ambassador) is dancing with a member of the farmers’ band.

cGijisi Juldarigi (tug of war) contains a variety of cultural significances including, but not limited to, teamwork for harmony and unity, efforts to overcome natural disasters in an agrarian society and the shamanistic beliefs that pray for abundance and prosperity.

The 170,000 citizens of Dangjin City applied for registration of this treasure on March 24 as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity so that more and more people may watch and enjoy this cultural heritage, to which end we are striving.

▲Ambassador Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica and Ambassadress Grecia Pichardo of the Dominican Republic (left and second from left, foreground) are dancing with the members of the Korean farmers’ band.

Dear Honored Ambassadors and Diplomats who cherish traditional culture and love folk festivals, we would like to solicit your interest and support.

Time is short today and we are very sorry we cannot introduce all the appeals of Dangjin. We recommend referring to our data if you have any further questions about our wonderful area.

▲Deputy Head of Mission Minister Branko Marjanac of Serbia is trying his skill on the traditional Korean gong.

While we have undertaken extensive of preparations, if you find any room for improvement, we beg your generous understanding, and we hope you will create memories both happy and fond during your stay with us here.

Lastly, we would like to convey our sincere appreciation to Lee Kyung-sik, Chairman of The Korea Post, and other relevant persons who have offered their efforts for the invitation and guidance of the ambassadors of various countries.

Extending our warm welcome to the foreign diplomatic mission chiefs, ladies and gentlemen who have made their way to Dangjin so early today, we wish you all the best of health and good luck.

▲Ambassador Grecia Fiordalicia Pichardo Polanco of the Dominican Republic (second from left) and noted Korean Calligrapher Professor Lee Sang-ik (third from left) hold the Calligraphic Scroll for her brushwritten by Professlor Lee SI. At left is Mr. Victor Decamps, spouse of the ambassador of the Domimican Republic and and at right is Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung- sik of The Korea Post.

Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by Ambassador Wijeratne:

Your Excellencies, and Hon. Cho, Yi-Hyon Vice Mayor of Dangjin City Government. It is with great pleasure to visit the city in the season of full blossom and receive a warm welcome by Dangjin City Government.

I congratulate on the third anniversary of "Gi-ji-si Jul-da-ri-gi, tug of war that is regarded as a highly important cultural asset, as well as, historically significant heritage of Korea. Also I was greatly impressed about the diversity that Dangjin city can offer in diverse areas from cultural, tourism even to the industrial sector. In this aspect, I look forward to exploring today's upcoming well-organized programme for the Diplomatic Corp, so I would like to thank to the Chairman of Korea Post, Mr. Lee Kyung-sik for being a bridge between us and offers authentic cultural experiences.

As I understand, Dangjin City is the core region of the industrial business in Korea where large scale of steel companies are developing in the geographically benefited environment with a port and highways. This implies that Dangjin has strong driving force to become a competitive business location in the global market. Therefore, I highly appreciate its future potential and wish to make outstanding growth in and out of the country. 4. Also experiencing Korean culture is always a great joy and fun, at the same time it allows foreigners to learn about Korean beauty and give positive cultural insights. So I am expecting new experiences by participating in Tug-of-War and Rice wine-and Sake making today. It is actually a great privilege to watch one of the best Korean intangible cultural assets, and wish it is successfully register as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2015.

Once again on behalf of the Diplomatic Corp members presented here today, let me express our gratitude to the city of Dangjin for having this great event here which will promote our friendship and cooperation.

I wish all success this festival will enhance the friendship and cooperation between our countries and with the Republic of Korea. Please accept my warmest wishes to the Gi-ji-si Jul-da-ri-gi Festival.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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