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서울 – 체코•한국 수교 20주년 기념 축하행사 이어져

2010년 3월부터 5월에 이르기까지 주한체코대사관에서 주최하는 체코와 한국 수교 20주년 기념 문화행사가 연이어 펼쳐졌다.

Sold out concert hall of Seoul Arts Center saw the final event of ten weeks long string of Czech cultural and promotional events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. „Czech-Korean Friendship and Peace Concert“ of music by the most beloved Czech composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana and performed by Seoul Oratorio, a renowned Korean ensemble of Czech classical music, was enjoyed by more than 2,500 listeners, among them high-ranking Korean officials, foreign diplomats as well as representatives of companies having a strong interest in Czech-Korean trade and investment as well as a general music loving public. Main Czech guest was Michael Wellner Pospíšil, Director General of Czech Centers, worldwide network of 24 centers promoting Czech art and culture abroad, from New York to Moscow and Buenos Aires to Tel Aviv, who arrived to the country to assess a possibility of establishing the next Czech Center in the Republic of Korea as well as to discuss the opening of a similar Korean cultural venue in Czech capital Prague.

The string of celebrations started already in March with the visit of Jiří Dienstbier who 20 years ago served in the first post-communist Czechoslovak government as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and now heads the Czech Senate´s Committee on Foreign and Security Policy. Senator Dienstbier came to Seoul in a capacity as a special envoy of the Czech Foreign Minister and he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan on March 22, 2010 - exactly 20 years since Dienstbier himself signed the protocol on establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

But it is not only 20 years since Czech-Korean contacts started, as there is a long history of ties, which started as early as in 1886, when the first Czech set foot on Korean soil. Since then Czech and Korean history has been interconnected many times: one of the least well-known is the fact that it was The Czechoslovak Legion (Československé legie), 60,000-strong army based after the World War I in Vladivostok, which was helping Korean independence activists and fighters in 1918-1920 and established the official contacts with Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai. Also the fact, that Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission based in Panmunjeom consist since its establishment after the Korean war also of Czech members is not widely known among the Korean public.

Thus - not surprisingly – it was an exhibition „The Story of Czech-Korean Contacts“ covering a century of contacts between the two countries and nations which was the first promotional event marking this anniversary which was opened at Czech Info Center in Seoul in March. Only last week it was exchanged for another show exhibiting intensity of ties between the two nations. „Connecting Prague and Seoul“ exhibition shows works of Korean graphic designer Shin Jiwon of Firefly Branding, whose creative offices are in Czech capital Prague, while her clients are truly international – from US brands Amtrak and UPS, through Czech Eta and Prague Writers Festival up to Korean Cheil and Samsung. Her works were combined with the glass designs by one of the most famous Czech artists and designers Rony Plesl, whose works are also well-known in the Republic of Korea.

During these Czech celebrations, a wide Korean public could also enjoy the most recent drama by former Czechoslovak and Czech president Václav Havel. His „Leaving“ was performed by its original Czech cast of Archa theatre at LG Arts Center, and the text of this important Havel´s work was also published in a book form, the third such Havel´s work available in Korean translation.

Not only capital Seoul, but also Suwon and Daegu saw the concerts of the leading philharmony orchestra from Czech city of Ostrava named after composer Leoš Janáček, who recently became widely known as it is very much exposed in the latest Haruki Murakami´s novel 1Q84. And last but not least Czech marionette performance of Don Giovanni opera which is so popular among Korean tourists visiting Prague since it was featured in a popular KBS series Lovers of Prague, visited Korea for the second time and gave a series of shows not only in the capital, but also in Taebaek and Wonju.

The celebrations reached also Korean universities – „Walking in Prague“ festival was held at Inje University in Gimhae in April, best photographs of Czech Press Photo yearly exhibitions are at show at Kyungpook National University Art Museum in Daegu up to the end of June, and some smaller events also took place at Pusan National University, Sungkyunkwan University and a main center of Czech studies on Korean peninsula, at Yongin campus of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Numerous Korean universities also took part in a conference „Study and Research in Europe“, the pan-European event aimed at promoting enlargement and widening of relations among European and Korean universities and also promoting Europe as a destination for Korean students. Not surprisingly this event was officially launched by Czech Minister of European Affairs Hon. Juraj Chmiel who visited Seoul and Busan also on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

These cultural events only reaffirmed the already well-established economic relations led by such Korean and Czech companies as Hyundai Motor, Doosan Heavy Industries and others.

On the occasion of this anniversary, the congratulatory letters were also exchanged between President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak and his counterpart, President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus. President Lee Myung-bak noted with satisfaction the steady development of Korea-Czech relations in a wide range of fields, including government affairs, economy and culture, since the forging of diplomatic ties. Offering congratulations on the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, President Václav Klaus expressed satisfaction with close cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the Czech Republic in government affairs, economy and various other sectors, and hoped for further development of mutually beneficial and friendly ties.