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Dancing in unity: Cooks, Korea celebrate decade long diplomatic relations

Friday 17 March 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Business, Local, National, Politics


Dancing in unity: Cooks, Korea celebrate decade long diplomatic relations
The Cook Islands and Korea celebrated 10 years of diplomatic relations at Tamarind House. Back from left: Ahmad Salem Alwehaib, the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait, Sue Yon Kang, the Deputy Director General for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Laurence Beau, the Ambassador from the Republic of France. Front from left: Prime Minister Mark Brown, Kim Changsik, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, and the King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters. MELINA ETCHES/23031606

Drums, fire, cultural and contemporary dance performances dazzled dignitaries and guests at the 10-year celebration of diplomatic relations between Cook Islands and the Republic of Korea at Tamarind House on Wednesday night.

Since the 21st century, the Republic of Korea has been renowned for its globally influential pop culture and in celebration of the country’s decade long anniversary with the Cooks the popular K-Pop (Korean Pop) dance crew Candee Collective from Aotearoa New Zealand performed a taste of Korean culture at the event.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said the Cook Islands has a really strong relationship with the Republic of Korea.

Initially the relationship between the two nations started off a decade ago when Korea assisted the Cook Islands with vehicles and technology gear with the hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in 2012.

“This year we are a lot more matured in our relationship and we’re looking to build on that relationship to expand our people to people engagements that we have but of course the two of us we are both developed countries, we have to look at forging partnerships that really benefit both of our countries,” said Brown.

Korea is a country renown for its manufacturing, its export, its technology and its tourism-based industry and Brown says they are now looking to diversify and look at technology in terms of our seabed and getting a better understanding of our deep ocean.

“And perhaps there are ways that Korean technology can assist us with improving and gaining more knowledge in understanding what we are seeking of our deep ocean,” said Brown.

Kim Changsik, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, joined the Korean Embassy in Wellington last October. He said presenting his credentials on the 10-year anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries “is very special”.

Changsik is looking forward to working together to overcome the new challenges such as climate change and the responses, and tourism.

“We know the successful performance of the Government of the Cook Islands this year as the chairperson of the PIF member state.

“And in Korea our government last December released the Indo-Pacific Strategy characterised with the openness and inclusiveness of reciprocity and trust so the Cook Islands is going to be the centre of the power and contribution in the regional Pacific and in terms of climate change, the blue water and green growth are also the goals we are sharing.”

Tepaeru Herrmann, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration (MFAI), said the relationship between the two governments and two countries, “is really a very honourable responsibility, it comes with very high expectations but it is also an enormous privilege for those of us who work within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.

Herrmann was particularly privileged on the evening to have among the guests a counterpart – Sue Yon Kang, the Deputy Director General for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. She brought a delegation with her to celebrate with dance and song.

In her address, Kang noted that there is a strong consensus within Korean Government to be represented at the 10-year event in person to convey their interest in strengthening the relations with the Cook Islands.

“The Pacific Islands including the Cook Islands are key partners for Korea in the region,” said Kang, adding Korea is planning to host an inaugural summit with the Pacific Island nations this coming May.

“Bilaterally, the decade long relations is still in the developing stage but our partnership holds a great potential which is as enormous as the Pacific ocean that we share and we have various attractive natural assets and we hope to bring more increased people to people exchanges and cultural exchanges as well. And having seen the beauty of the country myself, I’m really motivated to share it with more Koreans,” said Kang.

On Wednesday, the newly accredited ambassadors: Her Excellency Laurence Beau Ambassador of the Republic of France; His Excellency Kim Changsik Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, and His Excellency Ahmad Salem Alwehaib Ambassador of the State of Kuwait presented their credentials to the King’s Representative, His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters.

A Letter of Introduction from Her Excellency Phoebe Smith, the new Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, was presented to Prime Minister Mark Brown earlier this week.