More than 650 friends of Korea, including senior Egyptian officials, businessmen, members of the diplomatic corps, an array of foreign and Arab ambassadors in Egypt, defense attaches of different countries, journalists, Egyptian citizens and Koreans in Egypt, joined the reception and witnessed how Egypt-South Korea relations have developed on all levels.
Attending the party were Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, Minister of Health Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, together with former commander of the Egyptian Air Force General Mohamed Abbass Helmy and Minister of Civil Aviation Khalid Nosseir.
Ambassador Hong began his speech in Arabic welcoming his guests and said, “I was going to use all the Arabic words I know but, at this moment, I forgot them all.”
In casual, friendly remarks, Hong said, “Today we are here to celebrate the Korean National Foundation Day and also the Armed Forces Day which fall on October 3 and October 1 respectively. It is a very meaningful event. Egypt is such an attractive country having beautiful nature, splendid cultural heritages and hospitable and competent people, which makes me love Egypt dearly and feel I am the happiest ambassador in the world.”
“However, our relations cannot continue to develop sustainably without the support from each country’s people. This is why I put more importance on public diplomacy than any other duties assigned to me to befriend the Egyptian people, for our brighter future with Egyptian friends,” he explained.
The Korean ambassador expressed his gratitude to one of the attendees, Cho Chanho, president of the Korean Association, who is highly respected in the Korean community.
“Korea will always stand by your side as your friend. Rest assured both countries will continue to develop hand in hand. I wish our relations will be more consolidated after tonight. Let us make our future beautiful,” Hong concluded.
Instead of delivering a long speech, ambassador Hong showed a short video clip which summarised the embassy’s public diplomacy activities.
The video highlighted that Egypt and Korea have enjoyed their best government-to-government cooperation since the establishment of Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership in 2016 when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi paid an official visit to Seoul.
Support from each country’s people is crucial for two countries to sustain the excellent relations, the video added.
During the event, Professor Sarah Benjamin, the first Egyptian PhD-holder in Korean Linguistics, and her student Maya Hany from the Korean language department at Ain Shams University, delivered beautiful speeches in Arabic and Korean.
Benjamin and Hany mentioned that Korean and Egyptian cultures have grown closer in the past few years with the spread of K-pop, K-drama and Korea-Arab studies. They expressed their pride that Ain Shams University has played a major role in spreading the Korean language in Egypt and underscored the importance of language in bringing people together.
In his speech, Finance Minister Maait touched on the rapidly expanding bilateral relations since President El-Sisi’s visit to Korea in 2016 and the Korean president’s visit to Egypt early this year.
These visits created the foundation for a strategic partnership, sustainable and future cooperation, he said, reaffirming that he would not spare any effort to attract more Korean investments in Egypt.
“The cooperation on the government level has been a welcomed development, and has been making economic, political and cultural changes between Cairo and Seoul with strong and sustainable relationships.”
“Korean companies were among the important investors in Egypt, asserting their readiness, and interest to help Egypt in its development agenda. In return Egypt's government facilitates their work in the fields of energy, mining, technology, electronics, artificial intelligence, and investment promotion in Africa,” Maait said.
“The economic exchange between Egypt and Korea rose from $1.33 billion to $1.78 billion in the first six months of 2022,” he added.
“In addition, there is an agreement or mechanism for continuous dialogue between ministries of finance in the two countries to strengthen the bilateral relations in all fields,” he concluded
South Korea opened its consulate general in Cairo in 1991, while Egypt opened its consulate general in the Korean capital Seoul in 1995.
In addition, South Korea is one of Egypt's most important trading partners in East Asia, serving an important source of industrial expertise and technologies.