Over 40 mission chiefs and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps (SDC) attended the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd Hwacheon World Peace and Security Literature Festival at the Hwacheon Community Welfare Center on June 6, 2014 to console the souls of the fallen youths of the Republic of Korea, the Allied Forces and all the other sides who lost their youthful lives in Hwacheon during the Korean War (1950-3) and particularly in memory of the tens of thousands soldiers who died in the Battle of Paroho Lake in Hwacheon on May 20-24, 1951. (See list of guests from the SDC.)
The Festival happily coincided with the 59th Memorial Day of Korea falling on the same day when the nation offers respects to the fallen soldiers of the Korean Armed Forces and also members of the Koran independence groups against the Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula.
In attendance from the Korean side at the ceremony, besides Mayor Jeong Gap-cheol of the Hwacheon County, were two rare Korean celebrities, namely famed Korean Novelist Lee Oisoo and ‘Korean National Chef Im Ji-ho. Novelist Lee carries the nickname of “Twitter President of the Republic of Korea” as he has 1.8 million twitter followers and famed Korean Chef Im is very widely known for his veganic and macrobiotic Korean foods as well as other Korean foods with other food materials.
At the opening ceremony, Mayor Jeong presented the ‘Baby Peace Bell’ to Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka, which will visit Sri Lanka and stay there for a set period of time during which assistance and support projects take place. Such Baby Peace Bell already toured Ethiopia and Myanmar, where the Hwacheon County finished various assistance and support projects, including construction of potable water supply facilities.
The ceremony also introduced Hwacheon County’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Bell from Norway by Program Manager Mikael Klingberg of Voksenasen Oslo, which represented peace between Norway and Sweden, who shared one of the longest borders of the world between them, in memory of their peace for the past 200 years following repeated bloody clashes between the two neighboring countries.
The Nobel Peace Bell was proposed by the Reverend John Y. Jones, when he attended a ceremony for the completion of the World Peace Bell of the Hwacheon County in May 2009. He suggested to install peace bells in Norway and Sweden, where the Nobel Prizes are awarded, and Korea to resound the world’s wish for peace.
Then, three municipalities, Hwacheon County in Korea, Eda Kommune in Sweden, and Eidskog Kommune in Norway, that value peace, agreed to install peace bells in the Oslo Voksenasen Conference Center, the Morokulien Peace Park and the Peace Dam Park in Hwacheon Korea.
The Nobel Peace Bell is a gift from the Oslo City Government and its belfry was constructed by Hwacheon County.
The desperate calls of the world to put an end to war, bring peace to the world, and protect lives on the earth will resound from here throughout the world.
Welcoming the guests, Mayor Jeong said: “Korea is the only divided country in the whole world and the Korean people suffering from the trauma of division seek peace more than any other people do in the world. In this sense, the Festival is all the more significant in that it is held in Hwacheon where freedom and peace are appreciated more than in any other region of the world.” (See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this Article.)
Mayor Jeong’s welcome remarks were followed by a congratulatory speech by Ambassador Dusan Bella of Slovakia, dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps, who said in part: “As your legendary bird, Daebung, has been transformed from a fish into a large bird, I believe that today´s two Koreas will also be unified sooner or later as a one great nation and Hwacheon county will become lovely garden attracting many people who want to leave in peace and harmony with the nature.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this Article.)
The opening ceremony was followed by dinner specially prepared by Korean National Chef Im Ji-Ho. Im is a legendary chef in Korea who has many many awards from the government and various other organizations, including one from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2006. Im hosted a Venezuelan Food Festival in 2005, a Korean food sampling event in Germany in the same year, a Korean temple food exhibition in California in 2004 and a Korean food festival at the United Nations in 2003.
Much of the foods on the buffet table were veganic and macrobiotic although there also were some meet and fish foods specially prepared in the unique and peculiar culinary ways of Chef Im. Im is also famous for health foods, on which he asks, “Is there a boundary between food and medicine in terms preservation and promotion of health of man?”
The ambassadors and other senior members of the SDC were unable to do full justice to the wonderful preparations of Chef Im in the fact that they had had a late luncheon barely two hours ago because there was a five hours’ delay in arriving in Hwacheon which was among the most notorious in history. The roads from Seoul to the Chuncheon Interchange, on about the third quarter of the distance, were extremely heavily congested on that particular day as it was the starting day of the three consecutive holidays when many motorists turned out for camping, picnicking and various other outdoor activities. It used to take one and half hours to reach Hwacheon from Seoul, but on that day it took as many as seven hours completely spoiling the schedule of the day.
Following the dinner, there were magic performances by Korean Magician named Kim Yujeongkuk who made a number of magic tricks. It was very difficult for a layman to tell apart his tricks.
Excerpts from the welcome remarks by Mayor Jeong:First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Their Excellencies the Ambassadors and other distinguished guests from Korean society and from abroad and also to the Gyeok Oe Munwon who have worked hard to prepare this event.
My deep appreciation also goes to various organizations of the Central Government and social associations for the unreserved support and assistance given us for this Festival.
Today we mark the 59th Memorial Day and I am happy to say that it is very meaningful that the 3rd World Peace and Security Literature Festival coincides with the Memorial Day.
Korea is the only divided country in the whole world and the Korean people suffering from the trauma of division seek peace more than any other people do in the world. In this sense, the Festival is all the more significant in that it is held in Hwacheon where freedom and peace are appreciated more than in any other region of the world.
The Hwacheon County is where the Bukhan-gang River, originating from the Mt. Kumgang in North Korea, first meets the land of freedom as well as where the nature of the ancient times has been preserved intact. Hwacheon has risen from the debris of the Korean War (1950-3) and has been seeking to beautifully protect and disseminate the importance of peace.
Thanks to the generous support and assistance given us by all the distinguished guests here we are convinced that this World Peace and Security Literature Festival will evolve beyond the range of a simple literary festival into one where all the different peoples of the world will remind themselves of the importance of peace.
I hope that all the participants in the Festival will demonstrate their literary ability to the fullest extent, and play the role of a ‘World Peace Ambassador’ and disseminate the preciousness of peace to the people in all parts of the world.
It is my ardent desire that this Festival will continue to achieve development and distribute the Message of Peace to all parts of the world as well as to every nook and corner of the Korean peninsula.
Once again, I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to all the participants here and those others who have put in their hard work for the successful hosting of this Festival.
I wish you all the best of health and happiness to be with you at all times.
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by Ambassador Bella of Slovakia:
Honorable Mayor Jeong Gap-cheol of the Hwacheon County,
Distinguished Chairman Lee Kyung-sik,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
First thing, allow me on behalf of participating diplomats to express our sincere thanks for your kind invitation to the 3rd World Peace and Security Literature Festival.
It is very symbolic that this year this unique festival coincides with the 59th Memorial Day ? the day devoted to commemoration of the men and women who died while in military service during the Korean War and during other significant wars or battles. To honor the highest sacrifices of these brave soldiers, allow me at least symbolically to place Korean flags and chrysanthemums on their graves.
It is really very symbolic that today we are gathering here in Hwacheon, which is very close to the border of pain. This dividing line of Korean nation is not only reminding us a fragility of today’s peace on Korean peninsula, but at the same time it is separating the world of freedom, happiness and prosperity from the lands of suffering, suppression and fear.
As your legendary bird, Daebung, has been transformed from a fish into a large bird, I believe that today´s two Koreas will also be unified sooner or later as a one great nation and Hwacheon county will become lovely garden attracting many people who want to leave in peace and harmony with the nature.
Finally, allow me to wish World Peace and Security Literature Festival to succeed in its contribution to the global peace, mutual trust and friendship between nations of this world. Having said that allow me to wish Mayor Jeong Gap-cheol and people of Hwacheon County a lot of success in building and strengthening peace which will bring to your county more economic development, prosperity, harmony and happiness.
List of guests attending the 3rd Hwacheon World Peace and Security Literature Festival:
Amb. and Mrs. Dusan Bella of Slovak Republic and Amb. and Mrs. Konstantine V. Vnukov of Russia; Amb. Ngovi Kitau of Kenya; Amb. and Mrs. Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka; Amb. Duishonkul Chotonov of Kyrgyzstan and Amb. Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine; Amb. and Mrs. Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica; Amb. and Mrs. Carlos Victor Boungou of Gabon; Amb. and Mrs. Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal; Amb. Petar Andonov of Bulgaria and Amb. Hernani F. Coelho Da Silva of Timor Leste; Mrs. Zofia Majka, spouse of ambassador of Poland; Mrs. Katherine Apkhazava, spouse of ambassador of Georgia; Investment Counsellor Nguyen Thi Minh Hien of Vietnam; Economic Counsellor and Mrs. Yen Kuo-ruey of the Taipei Mission; Defense Attache Col. Emmanuel Fernandez of Spain; Second Secretary Outtama Sithiphong of Laos; General Manager Bernhard Brender of Grand Hilton Hotel and Seoul Bureau Chief Wang Gang of the Legal Daily of China.