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Tunisian Envoy Immersed in Local Language
Exclusive Interview with Amb. Mustapha Khammari
By Michelle Nam
Staff Reporter
Tunisian Ambassador to Seoul Mustapha Khammari (right) talks with Chairman Yun Ik-Han of The Seoul Times at his residence in Dongbinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul on Nov. 17, 2008.

Tunisian Ambassador to Seoul Mustapha Khammari hosted a dinner for The Seoul Times Chairman Yun Ik-Han and other senior members of the newspaper company at his residence in Dongbinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul on Nov. 17, 2008.

During the dinner six members of The Seoul Times were treated with home-made authentic Tunisian dishes prepared by the chef flown from the North African country.

Amb. Khammari talked about a wide range of topics with Chairman Yun over dinner, which started at 7 p.m. on the day.

In particular, the Tunisian envoy showed great interest in the rapid economic development of South Korea.

He said that South Koreans' unique esprit de corps might have been the driving force behind the surprising economic success of South Korea.

Chairman Yun agreed that South Koreans' hard work has also been very conducive to the economic miracle on Han River.

Tunisian Ambassador to Seoul Mustapha Khammari poses for The Seoul Times at his residence in Seoul.

The two personalities also talked about the late President Park Chung-Hee, who played a central role in the nation's economic building in spite of his long dictatorship.

Chairman Yun explained in details how the late president was assassinated by his own right-hand man in 1979. For many years Chairman Yun covered the presidential office of "Blue House," occupied by the late president.

"In person, I am interested in finding out the secrets of Korean economic success," said Amb. Khammari. "I think that Korea could serve as a role model for our country."

Unlike other top foreign envoys in Seoul, Amb. Khammari comes from different but interesting backgrounds. He turned himself into a senior diplomat more than 30 years after working as a professional journalists.

Amb. Khammari had served as president of the Tunisia's ERTT, a state-run television and radio between 2003 and 2007, before he was appointed by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as the ambassador to South Korea.

Prior to that Amb. Khammari spent nearly two decades as print journalist. He worked for such newspapers as "Le Temps," "Dar Essabah," and "Le Presses."

As an avid learner of Korean language and culture Amb. Khammari took a three-month Korean language course at Kyung Hee University. He commands basic communication skills in the local language.

Tunisian Ambassador to Seoul Mustapha Khammari (right) poses with members of The Seoul Times at his residence in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2008. Second from left is Mr. Mohamed Maher Meddeb, first secretary of Tunisian Embassy in Seoul.

Being a multi-lingual, Amb. Khammari is the fluent speaker of English, German, and Italian. His mother tongue is Arabic and he speaks French as good as his Arabic.

His daughter is also a passionate student of Korean language. Ms. Nadia Khammari took Korean-language lesson for seven months at Kyung Hee University last year before she went back to Tunis, capital of Tunisia.

As a graduate of Sorbonne University in Paris, she now teaches French literature at the University of Mannouba in Tunis. She is 25 years old.

"I plan to study Korean language for three more months," said Amb. Khammari. "My dream is to be able to read late novelist Park Kyung-Ri's great novel "Toji (Land)."

For details or inquiries contact the Tunisian Embassy in Seoul at 790-4334/5.

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Ms. Michelle Nam (Nam Yeon-Hee) serves as staff reporter of The Seoul Times. She majored in nutritional science at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul. She covers fashion industry and other cultural affaires as well as diplomatic community. Her hobbies include playing the piano, reading, and travelling.






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