By Lee Kyung-sik
Publisher, The Korea Post media
With Foreigh Relations Editors Min Byung-il and Park Young-ho
The Korean guests, and the ambassadors and other international guests, for that matter, were pleasantly surprised on the evening of March 27, 2015 at the Lotte Hotel as they unexpectedly heard Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh welcoming the guests at the his National Day reception in ‘impeccable’ Korean language.
Annyong Hashimnikka?” he began meaning “Welcome to our celebration!” It can also translate, “How are you?”, “How have you been faring?” or “I can tell you are well!”—and the liberal translation could go on and on.
Ambassadors normally do so normally at the beginning of the speech and then return to English. In sheer contrast with almost all other hosts, Ambassador Rahman went all the way through! Most of the Korean guests were surprised both with admiration and astonishment—as it was truly a rare example.
Ambassador Rahman declared, “Rising like a phoenix from the devastations of the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh now is a proud nation with global reputation on all fields of socio-economic development.” Then he said, “Under the dynamic and courageous leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is marching forward towards materialising its Vision 2021 i.e., to become a middle-income country by the 50th anniversary of our independence.”
Ambassador Rahman had a long string of important remarks which will be presented at end of this article, but this statement must be added first. He said, “We also visualise Bangladesh as a developed country by 2041. And we take great inspiration from the Korean development model—known widely as the Han River miracle.” (See excerpts from the speech of the ambassador at the end of this article.)
Yes, Bangladesh is most welcome to all the accomplishments we made through hard work on the part of the people and the wise leadership of the Presidents such as Park Chung-hee, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
Korean dignitaries and distinguished international guests, as well as ambassadors, literally filled the ballroom to the brims. Among them, from the Korean side, were Minister of Health & Welfare Chung Chin-youb,
From The Korea Post media came Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with Vice Chairmen Min Byung-il and Park Young-ho who provided assistance in the coverage of the function in all five media outlets of The Korea Post media, including www.koreapost.co.kr (Korean) and www.koreapost.com (English) as well as the regular-sized Korean-language print newspaper http://www.koreapost.co.kr/pdf/list.php.
Among other important Korean guests in attendance were: CEOs Dongcheol Seol of WE Global Company LTD, Roe-Hyun Myung of LS Cable & System Ltd, Sungki Kim of Bluetooth Korea Corp and Soton of S.N. Food Co. Ltd.; Presidents Hee Chen Lee of Art Marketing Institute Co., Yoo Kun-Young of GCF (Global Cooperation Foundation), M. Zaman of World Trade & Tour Co. Ltd.; and Vice Presidents Si-Bo Joo of POSCO Daewoo and Jeffrey Han of S&H Global Trading Corp.
Among the senior diplomats attending the reception were Ambassadors Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Andrei Popkov of Belarus, Mohamed Abdi Gello of Kenya, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Rohana Ramli of Malaysia, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Hakan Okcal of Turkey, Riyad A. Almubaraky of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Hernan Brantes Glavic of Chile, Bader Mohammad Al-Awadi of Kuwait, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Mohamed Abdelaal of Sudan, Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdes of Panama, Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia, Alexander Andreevich Timonin of Russia, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo of Rwanda, Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Laos Republic, Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo Polanco of Dominican Republic, and Niroshani Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Rahman:
His Excellency Mr. Chung Chin-youb, Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea (thanks Mr. Minister—I know you are also a renowned orthopaedic surgeon—for gracing this occasion with your kind presence here today; by the way, my wife is a medical microbiologist and I was also trained as a medical doctor)! My dear friends and colleagues from the Seoul diplomatic corps, and dear distinguished Korean friends.
26th March is the most important day in the lives of all Bangladeshis—living at home in Bangladesh, or abroad, like in Korea. On this day in 1971, our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed independence of the Bengalee nation. This came after more than two decades of our peaceful political struggle to break the shackle of political oppression, cultural apartheid and economic injustices.
We pay profound homage today to the memories of our Father of the Nation as well as to the memories of three million martyrs of our glorious Liberation War of 1971. We are also indebted to more than 200,000 women and girls who lost their honour in the hands of the occupation forces and their local collaborators in 1971. I am happy to inform you that in order to achieve international recognition of one of the most heinous genocides committed in the history of mankind, Bangladesh parliament and the government has recently adopted 25 March as Genocide Day. We seek support of all nations in this regard to prevent recurrence of genocide and crimes against humanity—anywhere in the world.
Rising like a phoenix from the devastations of the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh now is a proud nation with global reputation on all fields of socio-economic development. Under the dynamic and courageous leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is marching forward towards materialising its Vision 2021 i.e., to become a middle-income country by the 50th anniversary of our independence. We also visualise Bangladesh as a developed country by 2041. And we take great inspiration from the Korean development model—known widely as the Han River miracle.
Korea has been a dependable development partner of Bangladesh ever since its birth as an independent nation. As the 3rd biggest foreign direct investor in Bangladesh, Korea has been a pioneer in Bangladesh’s industrialisation and infrastructure development. Bangladesh is also the 2nd biggest recipient of Korean ODA—aligned to Bangladesh’s development plans, a unique and distinct feature of Korean development cooperation.
Hundreds of Korean businesses and industries are operating in Bangladesh. Our bilateral trade hovers around US$2 billion—with huge potential for a quantum leap. Korea has been a major partner in our infrastructure development as well—be it in road or railway network, or in developing our health or ICT infrastructure. Korea’s participation in two of the biggest multi-purpose bridge construction projects in Bangladesh; or establishment of post-graduate nursing institute; or building a 1000-bed specialised hospital are just few testimonies of the two countries’ expanding horizon of cooperation.
Just in this month, a Korean conglomerate has won a huge exploration contract to explore deep sea off-shore gas reserves in Bangladesh. Next month, launching of a unique ICT project named Giga Island—to connect a remote Bangladeshi island with mainstream Bangladesh, through e-education, e-health and e-commerce—would bring a new trajectory in Bangladesh-Korea relations.
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers are working here with great satisfaction, and contributing to the economic development of both Bangladesh and Korea. Hundreds of Bangladeshi students are also doing higher studies in Korean universities. These students will learn from Korea’s development model and apply their knowledge in Bangladesh’s socio-economic and technological development.
On the cultural front, the two countries share similar democratic and secular values. Bangladesh is a country of peaceful and secular people—just like our Korean brothers and sisters. As in Korea, women empowerment, health and education take the centre-stage in our development planning as well. We take pride in our rich and diverse cultural diversity, and welcome other cultures with open arms. No wonder the Korean wave or Hallyu has reached even the far-flanged parts of Bangladesh. Popular Korean TV dramas are now watched by millions of people in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi youths are great fans of K-Pop stars like Psy for his epic song Gangnam Style. Personally, I am great fan of Korean drama.
Just like in Korea, Bangladesh has many touristic attractions on offer. Some rarest and most ancient Buddhist monasteries and relics are just a few among many tourist attractions Bangladesh boasts about. Cox’s Bazaar—the 120 km-long soft-sand sea beach, is the longest unbroken sea beach in the world. Sundarban (beautiful forest) is the largest mangrove forest in the world where the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger roams around and draws eco-tourists from all over the world. I invite our Korean friends to visit Bangladesh, and enjoy the world-famous hospitality of the people of Bangladesh.