In Photos - 'Egypt is the Mother of the World': New Korean ambassador on National Day

Reham El-Adawi , Thursday 5 Oct 2023

The newly named Ambassador of Korea to Egypt Kim Yonghyon held a reception party on 3 October to mark the 4,356th anniversary of the founding of Korea and celebrate its Armed Forces Day.

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Korean Ambassador to Egypt Kim Yonghyon delivers his longed speech on National Day (photo credit of Korean embassy)

 

Yongyohn began by welcoming the guests to his residence, which many Egyptians call the “White House in Maadi.”

He noted that Koreans call their national day “Gae-Chon-Jol,” which literally means “celebration of the day when the Heaven was opened,” adding that the first Korean nation was founded on this day 4,356 years ago.

Besides being a source of immense pride, such history gives Koreans the most important sense of national identity as a distinct people, the ambassador explained.

Yongyohn also highlighted that the embassy was celebrating the Armed Forces Day, which falls on the 1st of October.

Hence, he saluted and thanked “all the service members of our armed forces and those in uniform present here with us tonight.”

Furthermore, the ambassador thanked singers Dalia Farid Fadel and Hanna Lee for beautifully singing the Korean and Egyptian national anthems and “touching our hearts.”

Yongyohn said he learned that the lyrics of the Egyptian national anthem “Bilady, Bilady” were adapted from the famous speech by renowned national leader Mustafa Kamel, who said, “If I weren’t an Egyptian, I would have wished to be an Egyptian.”

The ambassador concluded his opening remarks by asking permission – in all humility – to call himself an Egyptian.  

The reception party was attended by several foreign ambassadors, including those of Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, and Indonesia.

It was also attended by senior Egyptian officials, including Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, Minister of Local Development Hisham Amna, Minister of Public Business Sector Mahmoud Kamal Esmat, and Executive Director of the National Training Academy of Egypt Rasha Ragheb.   

Yongyohn also highlighted that this is the first National Day reception that he hosts in Cairo, noting that it has been four months since he arrived “in this wonderful country.”

He thanked the Egyptian government and people, the Korean community in Egypt, and colleague ambassadors for their “warm welcome, friendship, and invaluable guidance.”   


Ambassador of Korea to Egypt Kim Yonghyon welcomes Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait (Photo credit of Korea embassy)

Modern Korea
 

The ambassador then turned to the topic of modern Korea, which, he said, “has risen from the ruins of the Korean War 70 years ago to become an economic powerhouse, a leading democracy, and a cultural trendsetter.”

He also noted that Korea is now the 12th biggest economy and the 7th largest trader in the world.

It is also one of the most innovative countries and a front-runner in cutting-edge technology, Yongyohn affirmed.

Globally, Korea is one of the top manufacturers of cars, ships, steel, and electric vehicle batteries.

Korea’s world market share of semiconductors (memory chips) exceeds 70 percent, he noted.

Furthermore, the ambassador stated that Korea became the 7th country in the world this year to successfully launch satellites into orbit using a domestically built space rocket.

It is the only country in modern history to turn from an international aid recipient to an ODA donor country, Yongyohn noted.

“We Koreans owe a lot to the help of the international community and the Korean people’s perseverance and hard work. We would like to assume more responsibilities and more roles in the international community,” he said.

The ambassador highlighted that Korea is adopting a new vision and strategy as a “Global Pivotal State” (GPS) “to contribute more to the freedom, peace, and prosperity of the world".

Korea will play a bigger role
 

Yongyohn noted that at the recent 78th United Nations Assembly, the Korean president “reiterated our [Korea’s] strong will to increase efforts to overcome global challenges, including bridging the gap in development, climate, and digital technology.”

Furthermore, he pointed to Korea’s will to play bigger roles and share what it has achieved, highlighting that as part of these endeavours, Korea would like to host the 2030 Busan World Expo.

In addition, the ambassador stressed that through the GPS Initiative, Korea would like to “vigorously reach out to this region,” noting that his country plans to host an inaugural Korea-Africa Summit in June next year to which the leaders of 54 African countries will be invited.

Egypt-Korea relations
 

Yongyohn said he has seen the love Egyptians have for their country and the pride they take in its history and culture, noting that Egypt, which indeed is the “Mother of the world,” constitutes a cradle of human civilization that has captivated the world with its magnificent cultural heritage for thousands of years.

He also pointed out that despite being in Egypt for only four months, he visited many places, attended various events, and met many people.

All these encounters, the ambassador noted, convinced him of the depth and value of the cooperation between Egypt and Korea.

Yongyohn further explained that since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to Korea, in 2016, Korean-Egyptian relations have developed “tremendously and continuously."


Korean ambassador Kim Yonghyon cut the cake with Egyptian ministers Mohamed Maait, Hisham Amna, Mahmoud Esmat and Rasha Ragheb

Economic relations
 

The ambassador pointed out that Egypt is one of Korea’s largest export partners in the African continent, noting that “two-way trade volume has increased to $3.2 billion last year.”

Yongyohn also revealed that an expert study will soon be conducted to discuss concrete ideas for establishing a mutually beneficial bilateral trade regime.

He added that Egypt is also one of Korea’s important investment destinations in Africa, highlighting that Korea’s investment in Egypt has now reached $800 million.

Furthermore, the ambassador stated that there were 34 major companies – most prominently Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics – operating in Egypt, creating thousands of quality jobs for Egyptians.

Yongyohn also reviewed some of the most significant Egyptian projects to which Korean companies are contributing.

"Korean companies such as KHNP (Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power) and Doosan Enerbility are participating in the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in El-Dabaa. Hyundai Rotem, which has provided the Cairo Metro with high-quality trains since 2012, will supply 40 more Metro trains,” the ambassador said.

In addition, Yongyohn highlighted that the trains will be manufactured in Egypt by Egyptian workers in partnership with an Egyptian company.

The factory for manufacturing these trains is being built at the East Port Said Economic Zone, he said, adding that he visited it last month.

The ambassador also disclosed that Korea and Egypt are cooperating in green transition, too, “through the Suez Canal’s ‘Green Canal Project’ in which diesel-fueled tug boats and ferries in the Suez Canal will be replaced by more environment-friendly LNG vessels."

Cooperation in education
 

Since its establishment in 1991, KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) has implemented numerous successful projects in Egypt. More than 1,800 Egyptians benefited from KOICA’s various short and long-term human resources development programs in Korea along with other public and private scholarship programmes.

Speaking about cooperation between Egypt and Korea in education, Yongyohn pointed out the Korea-Egypt Technological University in Beni Suef, describing it as “a symbol of excellent cooperation in technical training of higher education and university-industry collaboration.”

He added that owing to the successful implementation of the 1st phase of the university between 2016 and 2022, KOICA will contribute an additional $8 million over the next six years to complete the university’s second phase.

The ambassador noted that last week President El-Sisi announced the government’s plan to increase the number of this type of new innovative technological universities from 10 at present to 27.

Yongyohn concluded his address by stressing the crucial importance of people-to-people connections and cultural exchange for future ties between Korea and Egypt,” noting that he was very pleased to see that so many young Egyptians “love K-Pop, K-Dramas, K-Movies, K-Food. They seem to love almost everything that starts with “K”.”

For his part, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait began by expressing gratitude for the ambassador’s invitation as a guest of honour at the National Foundation Day celebration of a “friendly country.”

Maait added that Cairo is associated in the minds of the Korean people with the “Cairo Declaration” issued on 27 November 1943, according to which Korea gained its independence after the noble struggle of its people.

The finance minister also noted that the Korean leaders are fully aware of the importance of Egypt’s position and its pivotal role in the Middle East and Africa as a force of security, peace, and stability.

Furthermore, Maait said that Egyptians look up to Korea as an inspiring model of comprehensive development and economic and industrial progress.

He then turned to the relations between Egypt and Korea where he stressed that these relations have developed rapidly in recent years.

The finance minister cited President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to Korea in March 2016 as an important milestone that helped advance the relations between the two countries and promote them to the level of “comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Maait also pointed out the large number of agreements and MoUs that were signed between the two sides during the visit.

Furthermore, he described Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Egypt in January 2022 as a milestone in the progress of bilateral relations, being the first by a Korean President to Egypt in 16 years.

The finance minister stressed that the visit played a crucial role in strengthening economic relations and boosting investments, trade exchange, and technical cooperation.

It also helped coordinate and streamline political positions on current regional and global issues, Maait said.

In addition, he expressed Egypt’s appreciation of Korea’s decision to consider Egypt as an ODA priority partner country in the MENA region for the years 2021-2025.

The finance minister also disclosed that in 2022 the volume of trade between the two countries exceeded $3 billion, $1.7 billion of which were Egyptian exports, which have significantly increased over the past few years due to the increase in Egyptian natural gas exports.

Moreover, Maait highlighted that during the first quarter of 2023, Egypt’s exports to South Korea exceeded $240 million, while Korean investments in Egypt surpassed $700 million through 180 companies, most of which work in vital industrial fields.

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