The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ki-Hwan Kweon, was welcomed to County Hall by Cathaoirleach Councillor Paul Taylor and Chief Executive Martin Lydon.
Korean Ambassador visits Sligo
Left-Right: Cathaoirleach Councillor Paul Taylor, Ambassador Ki-hwan Kweon, Third Secretary Korean Embassy Jihong Shin and Chief Executive Martin Lydon
In his address, the Cathaoirleach said ‘Our remote location on the Western periphery of Europe has not deterred us from establishing and developing a wide range of international contacts, and indeed we had the honour of hosting a visit by the Ambassador’s predecessor two years ago. We have formalised our international friendships by signing ‘twinning’ charters with three towns, Kempten in Germany, Crozon in France and Tallahassee in Florida.
Our Twinning Associations, and the formal and informal contacts developed under the umbrella of the twinning programme, has been the backdrop to important cultural, educational and sporting links. In this context we are pleased to welcome the Ambassador as our special guest today. Engagements such as this can be the catalyst for a range of projects and initiatives, and it will also encourage us to explore Korean history, tradition and culture.
Links with Korea
There is a very strong linkage at national level between our two countries, and seven years ago the 30th Anniversary of diplomatic relations was marked by the establishment of a memorial in Seoul to those of Irish birth who fought in the Korean war. The first historical links go back much further – the first documented record of Irish people on Korean soil dates to 1871, when a number of Irish soldiers were members of the U.S Marine Corps who landed on Gangwha island.
The first Irish-man of note to be referenced in Korean history was Derry Native William George Aston, who served as British Consul – General in the late 19th century. At European level, the EU – Korea Free Trade agreement provides a vibrant frame-work for Irish exporters, with trade between our two countries increasing in recent years.
Trade and investment
The Korean Embassy plays a very positive role in working alongside our state agencies to promote inward trade and investment. They have supported Irish companies in trying to identify new markets, and they assist companies with their network of business contacts. Both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland have offices in Korea, with the Ambassador directly overseeing the local market team.
From a local perspective, Sligo County Council welcomes the opportunities presented by our responsibilities in the areas of local enterprise and economic development. We look forward to maintaining and promoting Sligo’s status as the cultural and economic hub of the North West.’