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  National
Amb. Schoeman Marks Freedom Day in Seoul
Hundreds of Diplomats, Locals Joins Reception at Shilla
By Crispin Anderlini
Assistant Editor
S. African Amb. Stefanus J. Schoeman (center) poses with Amb. Alfredo Francisco Ungo of El Salvador (left), and Chariman Yun Ik-Han at the reception for its 12th Freedom Day celebration.

The sun was shining, diplomats were floating around dressed in their casual best and looking like self-contained bubbles of their country's culture, meeting and chatting in amongst a pervading air of goodwill and cheer. Saturday 29 April, 2006 was certainly one of the most enjoyable and relaxing of diplomatic affairs that Seoul's diplomatic community has seen for a while.

The occasion for the festivities was South Africa's 12th Freedom Day celebrations and was generously hosted by the South African Ambassador Stefanus J. Schoeman, his wife Judith, and the South African Embassy's staff.

Held at the Shilla Hotel, the sumptious feast of South African and Korean cuisine that was laid out was accompanied by representatives of South Africa's marvelous cabernet sauvignon-producing wine industry and a smoothly jazzy South African saxophone, bass guitar duet, providing foreign ambassadors and other guests with a delightfully relaxing way to celebrate this important event.

Even the children were catered for. While the various country's ambassador's went about their jovial rounds, discussing trade deficits, the high quality of South African meat, and the benefits of eating Kimchi for breakfast, the ambassador's children played table soccer, putted golf balls for diamond necklaces and were impressed by the balloon-making skills of Seoul's local entertainers.

South Africa's Freedom Day is a relatively new addition to South Africa's calendar and began when South Africa took its first steps out of a gloomy past and held the first democratic general elections in 1994. At that time the new democratically elected government, led by Nelson Mandela and the African National congress (ANC) adjusted the country's public holidays so that they would be meaningful to all South Africans.

In line with this agenda, Freedom Day is a celebration of the first general elections in which all adults, irrespective of race, were able to have their say about who governed their country and represented them in the international community.

At the same time it is also a celebration of the end of a repressive and prejudicial system that treated more than half the country's population as second-class citizens, not deserving of basic human rights.

With such a worthy cause in mind it was wonderful to see representatives from countries as geographically and culturally diverse as Tunisia, Canada and Malaysia sharing great food, fantastic wine and excellent conversation on a day unmarred by Springtime yellow dust or cloudy weather.

Photos of 12th Freedom Day Celebration

Chairman Yun Ik-Han of The Seoul Times (right) poses with Japanese Ambassador Shotaro Oshima.

Chairman Yun Ik-Han of The Seoul Times (left) poses with Malaysian Ambassador Dato' M. Santhananaban.

The above photos were taken by Susan Song, staff reporter of The Seoul Times.



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Crispin Anderlini, whos serves as Staff Writer & Photojournalist for The Seoul Times, has been working as photojournalist for such publications as South China Morning Post, Shanghai Talk magazine, and SajinYesul for the past two years within S. Korea, China, and Australia.This New Zealand photojournalist graduated from Victoria University in Wellington with a BA in Anthropology.

 

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