Ambassador Dr. Alba Florio Legnani of Uruguay and other ambassadors, senior diplomats and international media representatives visited the Dangjin City of Chungcheongnam-do Province, some 87.5 miles southwest of Seoul on April 10, 2015 to attend the 2015 DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War Culture Festival in the city.
The largest tug-of-war with the longest ropes in Asia has a history of 500 years and attracts hundreds of thousands of people.
On the way to Dangjin, the ambassadors, their spouses and other senior diplomats had a tour of various production facilities of the Hyundai Steel Mill and inspected the process of steel products being made.
Upon arrival in the Dangjin City, the ambassadors and other members of the visiting group attended a luncheon hosted by Mayor and Mrs. Kim Jang-Hong where a brief welcome ceremony was held in honor of the envoys and other senior diplomats.
Speaking to the guests, Mayor Kim said, “The DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War, which you will be visiting soon, is expected to be recorded as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage as Korea’s representative tug-of-war together with those of three other Asian countries, namely Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.” Then he said that the DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War was a game where the two competing parties are both winners and there is no loser because when the Upper Stream Team wins there is peace in that year and when the Down Stream Team wins there is a bumper crop. (Further details are toward the end of this Article.)
Ambassador Florio Legnani of Uruguay made a return speech congratulating Mayor Kim on the Festival. She said in part: “As always these events give us opportunities of understanding and building friendly links with the Korean community.We are sure that we will enjoy seeing the special rope used, the largest of the world, the same as the game with its large number of participants working in team with harmony and unity.” (See further details at the end of this Article.)
Followng the luncheon, the ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps visited the DangjinGojis Tug-of-War Museum where they put on the traditional Korean costumes of the high scholars worn during the past dynasties and joined the farmer’s band and had a tug-of-war match with the farmer’s band members and other Dangjin citizens. Needless to say, the diplomats won one match and lost the other following the tradition of harmony of the Dangling region.
Excerpts from the welcomespeech of Mayor Kim of Dangjin City:
Her Excellency Ambassador Alba Rosa Florio Legani of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Excellencies, Madams, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Dangjin City! I am Mayor Kim Hong-Jang of Dangjin City. It is a true pleasure to have this meeting.
I am grateful to all the Excellecnies, Madams and other members of the Diplomatic Corps and other distinguished guests for taking time out of their busy schedule to visit the Dangjin City on the occasion of the DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War that has a history of 500 years.
As you might have seen at the Hyundai Steel Mill on the way down here from Seoul, Dangjin City is located closest to mainland China, and has the best transportation network of the Republic of Korea with ports, roads and railroads. Dangjin City, thus, has been growing into the center of the Era of the West Coast in the 21st century.
The Dangjin Port achieved the top rate of increase in the cargo volume for the five consecutive years in the Republic of Korea with a record of entry-exit of over 10,000 ships and vessels, and has a cargo handling capacity of 60 million tons. Dangjin City also has a total of over 34 million square meters of integrated advanced industrial complexes of the national principal industries such as steel, machinery, metal, manufacturing, processing and medicine. The industries in Dangjin are also increasing their international competitiveness in various high value-added areas.
The Dangjin City is also noted as a city of an outstanding history, culture and tradition as it has, in addition to the 500-year-old Gijisi Tug-of-War Culture, the Sacred Site of Solmoe, symbol of the Catholic religion in Korea, which was visited by Pope Francis last June.
The DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War, which you will be visiting soon, is expected to be recorded as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage as Korea’s representative tug-of-war together with those of three other Asian countries, namely Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.
The DangjinGijisi Tug-of-War is a game where the two competing parties are both winners and there is no loser. This is because when the Upper Stream Team wins there is peace in that year and when the Down Stream Team wins there is a bumper crop.
I pray that the spirit of harmony as well as love and peace of the Gijisi Tug-of-War in Korea will prevail also in Your Excellencies’ countries and that it will contribute to the promotion of peace and harmony in the world as well as between Korea and your countries.
Once again, I would like to express my sincere welcome to the Excellencies and Madams and other distinguished guests and hope that your stay in Dangjin today will be a pleasant and memorable one.
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by AmbassadorMajka of Poland:
Mr. Kim Hong-jang, mayor of Dangjin City, distinguished guests, on behalf of the diplomats here today I would like to express our sincere gratitude for your invitation to visit this prosperous city and take part of this nice event.
I have more than four years in Korea and this is my first visit to Dangjin, I am very pleased to be here at this harbor city, with an ideal environment for agriculture, industry and maritime activities, developing into a hub of trade in the region of the Pan Yellow Sea and at the same time a city with a flourishing culture which attracts the interest of visitors.
Today we will specially attend the DangjinGijisi Tug of War Culture Festival, which has been designated by the Central Government as an important cultural event and it was previously designated as a promising festival. The Tug of War Game is very popular among foreign people in Korea the same as among the Korean people and all of them enjoy it with enthusiasm.
As always these events give us opportunities of understanding and building friendly links with the Korean community.
We are sure we will enjoy seeing the special rope used, the largest of the world, the same as the game with its large number of participants working in team with harmony and unity. These principles are important to learn and apply in all aspects of life.
Thanks again for inviting us to Dangjin City, one of the most developing areas of the country.
Receive our best wishes of success and also our best wishes for the city, its people and this interesting Festival