By The Korea Post media Nigeria Bureau Chief Yuccee O. Uwah
Recently, diplomatic relations between Republic of Korea and Republic of Sierra Leone grew stronger after six decades of trade, economic and political cooperation. To commemorate this milestone, the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Nigeria, Korea Consulate, Freetown, Korean Cultural Centre in Nigeria and partners organized series of public events in Freetown, Sierra Leone to showcase blossoming friendship and ties. In this report, Korean Post, Special Correspondent, Emman Ozoemena, Abuja, Nigeria, writes that Korea-Sierra Leone relations can only get better and stronger in future as both nations following the successful four day reflection cherish cordiality and mutual respect.
60 Years of Collaborating for Trade and Development
The relations between Korea and Sierra Leone which began on June 25, 1962, clocked 60 years. Over the years, the mutual relation grew stronger with time, culminating into friendship and mutual benefits for both countries, clocked 60 years in June 2022. To celebrate the milestone, the Embassy of Republic Korea to Nigeria and Korea Consulate in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone as public demonstration six decades of friendship.
On November 28, 2022, Republic of Korea Ambassador to Nigeria with accreditation to Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Kim Young-chae, led a delegation from the Korea Embassy, Abuja; Korean Consulate in Sierra Leone, and Korean Cultural Centre in Nigeria to organized a four-day Korean Culture Festival and Exhibition.
The Culture festival and exhibition were preceded by the grand inauguration of Iconic Freetown City Hall Complex reconstructed by Government of Korea under Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) initiative. The 15-story sprawling edifice is the tallest building in the bourgeoning capital city of Freetown overlooking skyline of Freetown. Many arts and culture enthusiasts in Freetown and environs visited the memorable fiesta.
The 60 years of cordial relations recorded many achievements in trade and economic ties, political cooperation, education and cultural exchanges. As expected many officials of the government of Sierra Leone, including Mayor of Freetown, Hon. Yvonne Aki-Sawyers, members of the diplomatic corps, business community, art and culture personalities, participated in activities to celebrate the milestone.
Additionally, it offered leaders of two countries, time of reflections on gains of 60-years of collaborations, map-out future opportunities, deepen trade and economic relations, investment outlay, political collaboration, education and cultural exchanges, and development assistance.
New Freetown City Hall, New Skyline
Months ahead of the commemorative events, officials of Korea and Sierra Leone interfaced at various fora, to plan these events that headlined 60 years of fruitful relations. The Republic of Korea, Ambassador to Nigeria with accreditation to Sierra Leone, His Excellence, Kim Young-chae, lead the Embassy team and the Korea Consulate in Sierra Leone engaged with key officials of the government and the leadership of Freetown City Council to plan on a befitting events to mark this milestone. This brought feelings of nostalgia to Sierra Leoneans that relished on results on relations.
Sierra Leone is Korea’s key ally in Africa and West Africa, working collaboratively at regional and sub-region organizations, African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) as partners. Also, two countries have collaborated on several issues at the United Nations (UN) for 6o years, supporting common causes and resolutions.
To take the relations with government and people of Sierra Leone to new heights, Korean government in 2019, identified bustling city of Freetown, the economic hub of Sierra Leone as a reciprocate the gesture of friendship between them. It began the flagship project, iconic 15-story Freetown City Hall complex. The Korean government through KOICA supported initiative. The Korea fully funded project cost US$55 million and was built by a consortium of Korean engineers and experts.
As the tallest building in Sierra Leone, the City Hall Complex is an edifice in the heart of Sierra Leone’s capital city. It will foster increased economic activities, directly impacting economic and social landscape of the city and entire country.
The newly reconstructed Freetown Council City Hall complex remains memorial reminder of the friendship between Korea and Sierra Leone for a long time come. A flagship of friendship and strong ties between both nations though separated by thousands of miles but united by shared aspiration to overcome challenges of development in all sectors of their endeavors, trade and economy, technology, infrastructure, knowledge sharing, education and culture. On, diplomatic level, Korea and Sierra Leone reached a new mark with the kick-off of cultural fiesta that heralded celebration of 60 years of friendship, trade and cultural ties, future assured.
Festival of Culture, Arts and Fashion
It is significant that landmark event from November 28 to December 1, 2022, commemorating 60 years of friendship between Korea and Sierra Leone opened at the Freetown City Hall, which was inaugurated and opened to the public is already attracting increased business activities in the city.
The complex also played host to the Korea Cultural Festival, an auspicious platform showcasing Korea’s soft power to the people of Sierra Leone and beyond. The globally acclaimed Korea arts and creative industry continues to make waves through Korean music, motion picture, martial arts, and other entertainment genre, fast gaining thousands of fans in Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa.
The events commemorating attracted large number of people that thronged to the Ground Floor Lobby of expansive Freetown City Hall Complex to see varieties of Korean cultures on display at the venue. These include the Korean culture exhibition; Photo exhibition of the Korean economic growth; Korean performing arts screening; Korean culture booth; The Handbook experience; and wearing the Korean traditional dress.
Culture patrons and enthusiasts from walks of life and social status in their numbers trooped out to attend various sessions at exhibition. Top ranking government officials, members of the diplomatic corps were among the participants at the four-day events.
Many attests that the Korean Cultural Exhibition was a worthwhile platform of commemorating 60 years of robust diplomatic relations between Republic of Korea and Republic of Sierra Leone. Both representatives of two countries including the Korean Ambassador to Nigeria with accreditation to Sierra Leone admitted at various fora as part of the celebration that the relationship as significant in many ways.
Culture as Purvey of Friendship and Cooperation
Instructively, using culture exhibition to celebrate historical friendship is instructive, as culture and soft powers plays important in advancing friendship between nations and peoples.
Dignitaries, guests and members of the public that attended these events and sessions would have relished in the melodious rhythm of Korean music; alluring sounds and pictures of Korean films screened at the sessions; detailed line and intricate styles of Korean fashion on display; the innovative and magnetic pull of Korean economic growth and trajectory.
For the Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria with accreditation to Sierra Lone, the relationship between both countries can only get better after fruitful 60 years, noting that over time the relation between both countries grew from strengthen to strengthen in trade, economy, education and cultural exchange with Korean arts and entertainment contain being distributed to its national media broadcast stations.
The Republic of Korea Consulate in Freetown has the responsibility of managing diplomatic relations between both countries. The relations have grown stronger over the years as both has cooperated in so many ways.