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"Island of World Peace"
Jeju Island Attracts 117 Foreign Envoys, Family
By Selim Kuneralp
Turkish Ambassador to Seoul
Jeju Gov. Kim Tae-Hwan talks with foreign envoys.

One of the nicest things about being a diplomat in Korea is the opportunity which is provided to all of us by the Korean authorities to visit different parts of the country. Not many countries around the world provide so much generous hospitality to resident diplomats.

The latest trip to which I was invited together with 47 of my colleagues and their families took me to Jeju Island over the Lunar New Year holidays. A total of 117 people were the guests of the governor of Jeju at the Shineville Resort on the southern part of the island.

Despite the rather cold weather, we all enjoyed the warm hospitality provided by our hosts. In all the trips that I have been on, I have always been impressed by the great efforts that are made by the organizers at all levels to make the whole experience as enjoyable as possible.

Turkish Amb. Selim Kuneralp
We arrived in Jeju on Feb. 9 and left on Feb. 11., 2005. I know how sacred the Lunar New Year holidays are to all Koreans who regard it as a time to be spent with their families. I have therefore appreciated all the more the sacrifice, which our organizers assumed by spending precious holiday time with us rather than with their families.

The immediate reason for the trip was to publicize the recent proclamation of Jeju as an "island of peace." We were briefed about the significance of this gesture, which aims at promoting the island as a venue for diplomatic gatherings. Having already hosted summits with Russia, the U.S. and most recently with Japan, the island is definitely well attuned to this kind of activity.

However, we were not there to take part in diplomatic meetings but to get a feel of the island and its culture.

On the morning following our arrival, we were treated to traditional games in the grounds of the resort. The young and not-so-young among us enjoyed participating in the games. Keen golfers were also able to practice their favorite sport.

In the afternoon, we were taken to visit the nearby folk village, which recreates the atmosphere of the late 19th century. As always when I visit such villages in Korea, I was reminded of the enormous transformation, which the country has undergone in a relatively short space of time and despite the tumultuous 20th century.

Amb. Selim Kuneralp (left) and his wife greet guests.

In the evening, we were treated to a splendid cultural performance by well-known opera singers and a modern jazz duo. I was impressed, not for the first time, by the great variety of musical activity in this country.

Our trip was rounded up the next morning by a leisurely climb up Sunrise Mountain. Thereafter, we drove back to the airport for our flight home to Seoul.

Once again, and through this column, I should like to thank Jeju Gov. Kim Tae-Hwan and all his colleagues for the extraordinary efforts that they have made for our trip to be pleasant and worthwhile. I wish them well in their efforts to promote the island and enable it to occupy a place well justified by all the assets that it possesses.




 

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