By Publisher-Editor Lee Kyung-sik
With Reporters Kim Jung-mi, Kim Sua and Won Hwi
Mayor Jeon Dong-pyeong of Yeongam County at the southwestern tip of the Korean peninsula said, “One thousand and six hundred years ago, Dr. Wangin (Dr. Wani in Japanese) went over to Japan in the spirit of communication, co-existence and co-prosperity, and became the starter of the Asuka Culture of Japan.” Wangin took with him Cheonjamun (One Thousand Chinese Characters) to Japan and spread it there for the first time, which the Japanese people still use even today.
Speaking to an estimated 3,000 Korean and international guests at the Yeongam Auditorium in Yeongam County, South Jeolla Province, on April 5, 2018, Mayor Jeon stated that the Wangin Culture Festival, which represents the history and culture of Yeongam, has won the honor of “Promising Festival of the Republic of Korea” for four consecutive years that it has firmly established its place as Korea’s representative ‘Personality Festival. (See excerpts from his speech toward the end of this report.)
The opening ceremony was attended from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps by Ambassadors Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Mihai Ciompec of Romania, Antoine Azzam of Lebanon and Daúl Matute-Mejía of Peru, many of them accompanied by their spouses. There also were Defense Attaché Col. Mario Gutierrez Martinez of Mexico and Second Secretary Jorge Vinicio Anrango Cabascango of Ecuador—with their spouses. The tour was organized by The Korea Post media (owning and operating 3 English and 2 Korean-language news media)
Leading figures from the Yeongam County attending the opening ceremony included Chairman Park Young-Bae of the County Council of Yeongam, Vice Mayor Hwang In-seop of the Yeongam County, Chief Na Seon-hwa of the Cultural Heritage Administration,
Director Lee Chul Hee of the Mokpo Branch Office of the Gwangju Prosecutor’s Office, First Senior Prosecutor Shin Hyung-sik, Second Senior Prosecutor Kim Ho-sam, Chairman Shin Chang-Suk of the Yeongam Residents Association in Seoul, and Director Park Tae-sun of the Jeollanam-do Provincial Committee of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation.
In response to the welcome address of Mayor Jeon, Ambassador Andonov of Bulgaria congratulated Mayor Jeon on behalf of the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps.
Ambassador Andonov congratulated Mayor Jeon on the opening of the Festival and stated, “My colleagues from the Diplomatic Corp in Seoul and I are feeling very honored by the fact that we are here today to participate in the promotion of the Yeongnam County’s program ‘Visit Yeongnam 2018’ and Yeongnam Wangin Cultural Festival as one of the biggest and most impressive cultural festivals in the Republic of Korea.”
Then said, “On behalf of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, I would also like to use this opportunity to congratulate the honorable Mayor Jeon Dong-pyeong of Yeongnam county who has won the coveted ‘2018 Korea CEO Leadership Award’ for two years in a row for his great contribution to improving local communities by demonstrating exceptional leadership based on innovative management. (See excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Andonov toward the end of this report.)
On the day of departure for Yeongam by Deluxe KTX Train from the Yongsan Railroad Station in Seoul, the station leaders came to the reception room for the ambassadors and other senior diplomats and wished them a wonderful trip—out of their respect for the ambassadors and other senior diplomats. They said that they were honored to have a picture taken with distinguished foreign dignitaries.
The five-star deluxe Mokpo Hyundai Hotel where the ambassadors and the senior diplomats stayed for the night were very clean and classy bespeaking the name of Hyundai, the leading business conglomerate of Korea competing with Samsung for the first place in Korea. The service was superb as well as the food and beverage at the Hyundai Hotel.
On the following day of the opening ceremony, the visiting group of ambassadors and other senior diplomats were led on a tour of the Dogapsa Buddhist Temple, a leading Buddhist temple in Korea, and the motor racing yard named the Korea International Circuit where the inaugural Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix event was held in 2012.
The visiting ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses were invited to ride a ‘make-believe’ racing cars. It had one accelerator on the right and one brake on the left, which was easy to lead (mislead) the drivers of regular cars make a mistake and press an accelerator instead of brake. (For the future users, the pedal on the right is the accelerator and the one on the left the brake.) It was an 8-minute course for the mock racing cars. (For the future users, here is a warning: the pedal on the right is an accelerator and the one on the left is the brake.)
Prior to the visit to this motor racing yard, the visiting ambassadors and diplomats were invited to visit the Dogap-sa Buddhist Temple at the invitation of Chief Abbot Seoldo.
Officially designated as the Republic of Korea Cultural Property No. 79, the Temple is known to have been built in the 6th Year of King Heongang's reign by National Preceptor Doseonguksa (AD 826-AD 898) during the Unified Silla Period. Some excavated roof titles, found in the backyard of the Great Hero Hall in 1999, are from the Baekje Period, which proves the existence of this temple before the Unified Silla Period (AD 676-AD 935).
During the early Joseon Dynasty, the Dogapsa Temple prospered and the Ven, Sumi (the King's advisor who came from Yeongam), added more buildings to the temple compound and renovated the old ones between 1457 and 1464. The Temple was so huge that there were 966 kan compound (a kan equals a space of 6 feet by 6 feet), 12 hermitages (with 780 monks) until when a lot of historic properties were lost by the Japanese Aggression in 1597.
The Temple was reconstructed, and prospered again after the war. More buildings were added in 1776 (in the 52nd year of King Yeongjo) and in 1835 (in the 1st year of King Heonjong).
The Korean War of 1950-3 and several fires did damage to the Temple.
Between 1995 and 1999, four excavations were executed which resulted in the confirmation of the original shape of the compound, and the restoration to the original state took place.
At the moment Dogapsa has four pieces of National Treasures (eg. Dogapsa Haetalmun as National Treasures 50) and five pieces of Jeollanam-do Cultural Properties (eg. Dogapsa Seokjomul which is the Tangible Cultural Property 150).
Then the visiting ambassadors and their spouses returned to the Hyundai Hotel and attended a farewell luncheon hosted by Mayor Jun.
At the luncheon, Major Jun exchanged views on business cooperation with the ambassadors at the head table.
Speaking with the ambassadors and the publisher-chairman of The Korea Post media at the farewell luncheon, Mayor Jeon said that many young people, who had left the countryside for Seoul to live, have begun returning to the countryside, and are engaged in a kind of sophisticated farming which is lucrative.
At this juncture, Ambassador Daul Matute-Mejia of Peru suggested that the price of fruits from his country were very competitive in price and product quality, many of them 150% to 200% lower than the price of the corresponding Korean products.
Whereupon, Mayor Jeon said that the Korean consumers, especially the young people, did not care much about the price differences if they could eat fruits that were reaped fresh from the tree. “The young people would pay two to three times the price when they find good food at a restaurant of good reputation.
Mayor Jeon said, “Sometimes we have fruits from the same farm in Korea, but they are classed differently: Class A fruits will sell for 100,000 won, Class B ones for 70,000 won and Class C fruits for only 50,000 won. The Korean people have changed and they want to have the best quality products, maybe probably they want to live long!”
Then he said, “Now in Korea, producers of the best-quality goods will survive the keen competition in the market.”
“All the same, who can afford the Class A fruits?” True! Perhaps the very rich can accord them but the majority of the commoners would find the ‘A Class’ fruits like a ‘cake in the picture’ as the commoners say in Korea.
Yes, in the opinion of common people in Korea, imported fruits still have a good chance in Korea also in the fact that the majority of common people would find imported fruits to be much more competive in price and quality. In the degree of freshness, the important fruits, maybe, cannot compete with the home-grown ones. However, they come in a very, very limited quantity.
For instance, bananas are almost all imported from warm countries and they are very, very cheap in price, and yet good in quality and freshness. On top of that, a hand of 10 bananas or more are priced about 3,000 won in the market in Seoul today. Can a Korean farmer compete with these imported bananas? “Never,” said one of the guests at the party. True. Perhaps the super upper class people accounting for, may be one percent, can afford the home-grown fruits.
Mayor Jeon did not want to bypass the God-given chance to give bash to the shipbuilding company in his country. He said, “We have Hyundai Samho Shipbuilding Company here in Yeongam. They make the best ships through the Republic of Korea! They enjoy the strong international competitiveness.”
Obviously, Yeongam was in good hands, agreed many visitors to the Yeongam that day. Of them even said, “I would say, Mayor Jeon would one day make the President of the Republic of Korea.”
Obviously, in the opinion of many people whom The Korea Post met agreed that one day he might make it.
Excerpts from the address by Mayor Jeon Dong-pyeong at the opening ceremony of Festival on April 5, 2018 (an unofficial translation by The Korea Post media):
Dear 60 thousand citizens of Yeongam County! Distinguished guests from the international community as well as from within Korea! Thank you all for your kind sharing of time with us this evening.
Our home county, Yeongam, is full of hopes, which leads the future-oriented Age of Fourth Industrial Revolution—as well as a county with a history of 2,300 years where the Culture of Mahan flourished.
Here today begins at Yeongam County a most traditionally Korean and also the most international ‘Celebrity Festival’ named Wangin Culture Festival. This is the 21st year since the Festival began.
At this time, I would like to assure to you all that the ultimate aim of the Wangin Culture Festival is its total globalization beyond the status of Korea’s Number One Festival.
We have prepared a program with various interesting events which can be enjoyed by all on the theme of a Premier Festival, Safe Festival and Economic Festival.
Beginning today for three nights and four days, you will all sample the quintessence of the best historical-cultural-environmental festival that depicts a distinguished personality, Dr. Wangin.
Today, we are favored with the presence of many distinguished personalities from around the world as well as from within the country, who took time out of their busy schedule to add grace to our festival. As I mention the name of each person and I would greatly appreciate it if you would kindly favor the guest with a warm applause.
Now I am going to introduce the Excellencies and Madams from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, and I would appreciate it if you would kindly offer a big hand.
Now I am going to introduce the distinguished guests who came a long way from our Sister City in Japan, Hirakata Shi, to help us successful host the Wangin Culture Festival, who are led by Vice Mayor Hisashi Yamashita of Hirakata City. They are:
Executive Director Toru Aoki of the Japan-Korea Friendship Association and his members,
Chairman Jun Yanagimura of the Wani Tomb Environment Preservation Association,
Now I am going to introduce some special personalities who are contributing to the development of the Yeongam County:
Dear 60,000 citizens of the Yeongan County and 160,000 former citizens of the country, and the distinguished guests from within Korea and without, the people of the Yeongam County are one in our effort to make Yeongam a ‘County of United Citizens’ and a ‘Country of Welfare and Affluence’ carrying on the spirit of communication and co-existence of Dr. Wangin, the Great Pioneer of the time.
Today, we have the time to present our respect to the lofty ideas of Dr. Wangin!
One thousand and six hundred years ago, Dr. Wangin (Dr. Wani in Japanese) went over to Japan in the spirit of communication and co-existence and co-prosperity and became the starter of the Asuka Culture of Japan. The Wangin Culture Festival, which represents the history and culture of Yeongam, has won the honor of the “Promising Festival of the Republic of Korea” for four consecutive years, and has firmly established its place as Korea’s representative ‘Personality Festival.’
In particular, this year is the ‘2018 Visit Yeongam Year.’
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of designation of our Wolchul-san as the National Park of the Republic of Korea. Together with it, we have a total of 48 colorful festivals in our county of Yeongam, including Wangin Culture Festival, Jeollanam-do Provincial Athletic Meeting, the Republic of Korea Aviation Leisure-Sports Meet and the Wolchul-san Chrysanthemum Festival.
I solicit a full extent of interest and support from all of the distinguished guests present here this evening.
We have a total of over 90 interesting, colorful events taking place throughout the Wangin Culture Festival. They include the representative item of the whole program named, “Dr. Wangin Goes to Japan,” a ‘mega parade’ participated in a total of over 3,000 county people, tourists and musical performers. Then there are various hands-on experience events for the guests, including Galgok Dulsori, Samho Ganggangsullae Ring Dance and Dopo Tug-of-War matches. There will also be MBC TV opening show in celebration of the Festival and KBS TV Live Music Show plus a special performance show by famous singer Lee Seung-hwan.
At the Yeongam County-run Ha Jung Woong Art Museum are slated a special modern art exhibition of the works of noted artists in celebration of the first centennial of life at the Yeongam County. At the Yeongam Pottery Art Museum is slated a special exhibition of Gurim Pottery.
I solicit the distinguished guests will have their fill of the pleasure and happiness at the Wangin Culture Festival. A festival will only sparkle when shared with many people. In the midst of fragrance of the beautiful cherry blossoms, I wish that all the guests will have their fill of the sights and sounds of the spring and take home a beautiful and fond memory made during their stay in Yeongam. Thank you very much!
Congratulatory speech by Ambassador Petar Andonov of Bulgaria on April 5, 2018:
Honorable Mayor Jeon Dong-pyeong, Distinguished Hosts of the Yeongam County, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my great honor and privilege to share this words with you; here in South Jeolla Province, on the occasion of the 2018 Yeongam Wangin Culture Festival. My colleagues from the Diplomatic Corp in Seoul and I are feeling very honored by the fact that we are here today to participate in the promotion of the Yeongnam County’s program “Visit Yeongnam 2018” and Yeongnam Wangin Cultural Festival as one of the biggest and most impressive cultural festivals in the Republic of Korea.
This Festival is a remarkable event, held every year in early April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom to commemorate the achievements of Korea’s Dr. Wangin, who travelled to Japan over 1600 years ago, during the Baekje period, to spread the Korean knowledge, culture and arts.
Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Dr. Wangin could be easily considered as a scholar who realized the ideal of an open world and an early supporter of the concept now known as Hallyu, or Korean Wave. In this regard, also the Yeongnam Wangin Culture Festival is a representative example of Hallyu, especially in the highly professional way it has been organized and promoted, not only domestically but also internationally. Let this event remind us about the importance of cooperation and mutual exchange in peaceful and creative way as we all live in more complex and interconnected world.
On behalf of the diplomatic corps, I would also like to use this opportunity to congratulate the honorable Mayor Jeon Dong-pyung of Yeongnam county who has won the coveted “2018 Korea CEO Leadership Award” for two years in a row for his great contribution to improving local communities by demonstrating exceptional leadership based on innovative management. It is also a great honor and privilege for me to deliver this speech in time when my country, Bulgaria, is currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU and in 2018, which was designated as a Year of European Cultural Heritage.
We would also like to express our gratitude and high appreciation to the Mayor Jeon and Yeongnam county’s officials for their warm hospitality and for inviting us to this memorable festival and through it giving us a chance of interacting with the people and authorities of the South Jeolla Province and Yeongam County!
Thank you very much !
Excerpts from the farewell luncheon speech by Mayor Jeon Dong-pyepng on April 6:
I am Mayor Jeon Dong-pyepng. I hope you have had a pleasant time while in Yeongam.
Already, time has come for us to part with each other.
It was only a short span of time, but I hope that it has been a pleasant and happy time in Yeongam. To begin with, I would like to offer my sincerely apology that I have not been able to personally accommodate the distinguished guests due to the tight schedule of the Festival.
I would like to assure that the precious presence of Your Excellencies and Madams made our Wangin Culture Festival sparkle all the more brightly.
I would like to express the heart-felt gratitude of the people of the Yeongam Country as well as myself to Your Excellencies and Madams for your gracious visit to our Country.
I express my hopes that the precious time and relations we have shared with Your Excellencies and Madams will continue. They will be cherished in the depth of our hearts and be further expanded and flourishing in the spirit of communication and win-win cooperation envisaged and carried out by Dr. Wangi. Also, I will do my level best to carry out this year’s Festival to a true success.
In closing, I would like to express my wishes that though it has been but a short stay for you here your memory of here will remain for a long time as a fond memory. I would like to express my hopes that you will think of Yeongam and help us be exposed as widely as possible.
I would like to express my hopes that the meaningful meeting of us today will happen again. I wish you all the best of health and happiness as well as endless development and progress for your country. Thank you.
Excerpts from the return remarks by Ambassador Andonov:
Honorable Mayor Jeon Dong-pyepng, Distinguished Hosts of the Yeongam County, Excellencies,
Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my colleagues from Seoul diplomatic corps, it’s my great honor and privilege to express our deep appreciation for your kindness and the great hospitality shown to us along our stay with you. It is my third time to be in your beautiful county and I should confess that I always try to find an excuse to come back here again. I am very happy that my visit to Yeongnam County this time coincided with the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018.
Although it was a very short time, I would like to assure you that we enjoyed every minute of our stay and we will take with us wonderful memories from your impressive culture. It was also great to witness how under the innovative leadership of Mayor Jeon, more than 60,000 Yeongnam citizens are united for the goal of creating a prosperous Yeongnam county of welfare through the development of a modern agriculture. We would also like to wish you success with your great endeavors to attract up to 3 million tourists this year within the framework of “Visit Yeongnam 2018” program because of your historical and cultural legacies of distinction as well as beautiful scenery and delicious specialties.
Thank you once again and we all wish a great prosperity and further progress to your county, your province and your kind people!