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Children of ambassadors catch sweetfish, win coveted prizesAt 16th annual Bonghwa Euneo Sweetfish Festival

Ambassador Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica and over 30 other ambassadors and senior members of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea attended the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival on July 31, 2014 at the Government Office of the Bonghwa Country some 152 miles southeast of Seoul.

Photo shows Amb. Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica and and Mayor Park (sixth and seventh from right, front row, respectively) pose with other ambassadors and their spouses together with other leaders of the Hwacheon County. Ambassadors Lama of Nepal and Teymurov of Azerbaijan are seen fifth and 12th from left, front row, respectively.


At the welcome luncheon hosted by Mayor Park No-wook, the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats heard his explanations on the special features of the Bonghwa County and the annual Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival. Euneo lives only in the First-class (Cleanest) Water.

Ambassador Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica (dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps) at right presents a Plaque of Appreciation to Mayor Park (left) for his invitation of ambassadors and other senior diplomats with their spouses to attend the Bonghwa Euneo Sweetfish Festival.


Speaking to the guests, Mayor Park said, “The Bonghwa County hosts two festivals through the use of the clean water of the Naeseong-cheon River, namely the Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival in summer and the Trout Festival in autumn. Then he said that the sweetfish lives only in the cleanest 1st Class Water and therefore the rare fish was offered to the King in the past on the Royal Meal Table.

Mayor Park delivers a welcome speech for the ambassadors and madams and other senior members of Diplomatic Corps.


He said, “Euneo fish is a well-being food for its light taste and smell of watermelon. In the past, the Seongnae-cheon River of our County teemed in Sweetfish and even today the rare fish is found in some parts of the County.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this Article.)

Mayor Park No-wook (third from right) introduced to Ambassador Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps (second from left) by Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post (second from right). At far left is Mrs. Lopez Trigo (spouse of the Costa Rican ambassador) and at far right is Chairman Lee Sung-Hoon of the Organizing Committee of the Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival.


Mayor Park’s welcome speech was responded to by Ambassador Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps of Korea, who thanked Mayor Park and the citizens of the Bonghwa County for their kind invitation of the diplomats to visit the Bonghwa County and attend the Bonghwa Eunero (Sweetfish) Festival. He said that the Bonghwa County had many things in common with the densely forested region of Costa Rica.
Ambassador Lopez Trigo wished Mayor Park every success throughout the duration of the Festival.

Ambassador Kaman Singh Lama of Nepal (left) introduced to Mayor Park (center) by Chairman Lee of The Korea Post.


The speeches were followed by Ambassador Lopez Trigo’s presentation of a Plaque of Appreciation to Mayor Park for his invitation and warm hospitality and accommodation for the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps. The plaque read: “I present this Plaque of Appreciation to Honorable Mayor Park No-wook of the Bonghwa County of Gyeongsangbuk-do on behalf of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea for the invitation of us to the Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival on July 31, 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.”

Ambassador Ramz Teymurov of Azerbaijan (center) flanked by Mrs. Teymurov (spouse) and Charge d’Affaires Youssef Raggi of Lebanon. At far left and second from right are the children of Amb. and Mrs. Teymurov.


The welcome ceremony was followed by an international buffet luncheon, of which the food and beverage were specially prepared by seasoned chefs of the Bonghwa County who used the vegetable, fish and meat food materials that were grown and raised in the cleanest natural environment of the Republic of Korea.

Fine spread of foods made with vegetable and other food materials cultivated in the ‘Cleanest Zone of the Republic of Korea,’ including the First-class (Best) Water in Korea.


Much depends on the quality and freshness of the food materials as well as the culinary skills of the chefs when the best-quality food and beverage are made. The Bonghwa County was best fit to meet the requirement from its natural surroundings and the skills of the chefs.

Ambassador Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica and Chairman Lee Seung-hoon of the Organizing Committee of the Sweetfish Festival (sixth and seventh from right, front row, respectively pose with other members of the Diplomatic Corps on the VIP stage protruding into the Naeseong-cheon River where Euneo (Sweetfish) are caught by hands and with scoop nets.

Soon, Mayor Park offered a toast with Waxy Corn Wine, a special product of the Bonghwa County, which had a light milky color unlike the regular red and white wines.


Following the luncheon, the visiting diplomats were led to the event sites at the Naeseong-cheon River, where they were invited to fish either with scoop nets or bare hands.

Charge d’Affaires Ms. Jana Chaloupkova of the Czech Republic and Charge d’Affaires Youssef Raggi of Lebanon (right and left)


Who was most brave? Ambassador Kaman Singh Lama of Nepal!
There was a scattered light shower on and off and some of the visiting diplomats stayed under the tent to keep themselves dry. Braving the shower, Ambassador Lama rolled up his trouser legs and walked into the water of the Naeseong-cheon River and he was followed by Miss Nafti (daughtger of Ambassador Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia) and a number of other visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps. Any luck? No due to the rain which made the guests move to the barehand-fishing pools where there were tents to take shelter when shower came.

Young people are always most active and adventure-loving. Photo shows Miss Nafti (daughter of Ambassador Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia) taking her shoes off to join the competition of Sweetfish catching with bare hands.


At the pool, they had much better luck and some of them caught a number of sweetfish with bare hands.


Miss Nafti caught some with bare hands in the pool and so did a number of other children from the Diplomatic Corps.


Charge d’Affaires Ms. Jana Chaloupkova of the Czech Republic, Mrs. Lama (wife of the ambassador of Nepal) and Mrs. Mariana Ruiz (wife of the Ecuadoran minister) were also brave and joined the fishing.

Mrs. Mariana Ruiz (wife of the Ecuadoran minister) is also brave and joins the Euneo fishermen and fisherwomen.


Miss Nafti (daughter of the Tunisian ambassador) and Miss Antonella Franchesca Icaza (daughter of the minister of Ecuador) won a good prize each for their catch of sweetfish.


The guests took the crunchy deep-fried sweetfish, the bones and all as well as the salt-sprinkled roasted sweetfish. The deep-fried and roasted sweetfish all had a good taste fully justifying the remarks of Mayor Park that they were offered to the King of the Joseon Dynasty included in the list of foods on the Royal Meal Table called ‘Surasang’ (King’s Food Table).

Mrs. Lama (wife of the ambassador of Nepal) is all smiles even though she hasn’t caught one Euneo fish yet.


The visiting ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps then were invited to visit the Daksil Korean Folk Village, where was located the Estate of Joseon Dynasty loyal vassal, Gwon Beol.


Chief Royal Secretary Gwon Beol (AKA Jung-Jae, 1478-1548) served the Joseon Dynasty King Seongjong (from the 9th Year of Seongjong) and King Myeongjong (until the 3rd Year of Myeongjong. Gwon Beol is known as one of the most noted scholars and a loyal vassal of the Joseon Dynasty.

Needless to say, young people are much quicker and nimbler?and daring than grownups. Here Miss Nafti (daughter of Tunisian ambassador) is catching one Euneo fish (she later received a prize for her catch). The sweetfish are really elusive.


The Residence and School of Gwol Beol is located in the Bonghwa County along with the Daksil Folk Village of Bonghwa where home-stay tourists can rent a house for a set period of time for vacationing.


Gwon Jong-mok, the 19th generation of Gwon Beol is now managing the Gwon Beol Estate, which is noted for the Cheongnam-jeong Pavilion that was used as a school for the schoalrs and students of the Joseon Dynasty.

Mrs. Mariana Ruiz (wife of the Ecuadoran minister) in light green jacket, Ms. Antonella Franchesca Icaza (daughter of the Ecuadoran minister, second from left, foreground) and Mr. Jorge Icaza Ruiz (son of the Ecuadoran minister, right foreground) momentarily look at the camera while fishing sweetfish with bare hands.


Gwon Jong-mok, the 19th generation offspring of Gwon Beol who now managed the estate of Gwon Beol, explained to the visiting ambassadors and

Excerpts from the welcome speech of Mayor Park No-wook of Bonghwa County:

His Excellency Ambassador Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, Excellecies, other members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my heart-felt welcome to you all for your kind visit to the Bonghwa County! It is my great pleasure to have this opportunity to host our welcome ceremony with the distinguished guests at the opening of the Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival, which has been designated by the Central Government as the Representative Summer Festival of the Republic of Korea
The Bonghwa County is situated in the center of the Taebaek and Sobaek Mountains of the Baekdu Mountain Range and at the northernmost part of the Gyeongsang Provincial Region. The Bonghwa County is twice as large as the Seoul Metropolitan City in size and consists 83% of woods and fields that make the region the representative forest rest and recuperation area of the Republic of Korea. In addition to the rich forest assets and the clean environment, the County sees the dedication of Asia’s largest Arboretum of the Baekdu Mountain Range next year. The County is also noted for the brilliant relics of Buddhism, Buddhism and Taoism.

Miss Nafti (right, daughter of the Tunisian ambassador) and Mr. Jorge Icaza Ruiz (son of the Ecuadoran minister) are all smiles showing their catch to their family members as well as to the envious other guests.


The Bonghwa County also has a narrow-track train line for the tourists that runs through fabulous landscapes of clean nature, which is one of the best attractions for the tourists.


On May 23 last year, we celebrated the establishment of a sisterhood relationship between our Buncheon Railroad Station and the Alps Train of Switzerland with the attendance of Swiss Ambassador Joerg Alois Reding where we opened a new chapter of tourist cooperation with Switzerland, which forms a basis of our international tourist exchange.

Alpar Teymurlu (son of Ambassador of Azerbaizen) also caught one and proudly displays for everyone to see.


The Bonghwa County hosts two festivals through the use of the clean water of the Naeseong-cheon River, namely the Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival in summer and the Trout Festival in autumn.


The Sweetfish lives only in the cleanest 1st Class Water and therefore was offered to the King in the past on the Royal Meal Table. It makes a well-being food for its light taste and smell of watermelon. In the past, the Seongnae-chon River of our County teemed in Sweetfish and even today the rare fish is found in some parts of the County.

Miss Nafti (right) is all smiles receiving a prize from Chairman Lee Seung-Hoon of the Organizing Committee of the Bonghwa Euneo (Sweetfish) Festival.


I hope that the Excellencies will have hands-on experience in various interesting events such catching Sweetfish with a scoop net or with bare hands and playing in water and I hope that the Excellencies will sample the wonderful taste and smell of the Sweetfish.


Our Bonghwa County is famous not only for the Sweetfish but also for the trouts, beef from cattle that fed on medicinal plants and port roasted on charcoal fire.

Miss Antonella Franchesca Icaza (daughter of the minister of Ecuador) at right shows her catch as she receives prize from Chairman Lee of the Organizing Committee of the Festival


Excellencies and madams do not have a frequent opportunity to visit our County and I hope that we should try to use the are opportunity to the fullest extent taking a tour of places of interests in our County and sampling various food and beverage of our locality?and each take home a fond memory.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere wish that there will be everlasting development in your country and the best of health for everyone. I hope that your stay in Bonghwa today will prove a truly pleasant one.

Curator Gwol Jong-mok of the Daksil Estate of the Joseon Dynasty Chief Royal Secretary Gwon Beol, the 19th generation offspring of Gwon Beol explains to the visiting ambassadors and other senior diplomats about Gwon Beol and his Estate.

Ambassadors and diplomats pose on one side of the ‘Turtle Rock’ on which stands the Cheongam-jeong Pavilion that was used as a lecture hall for the scholars and classics students.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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