Much has happened at the Embassy over the past six months.
There have been a number of high-level visits over the past twelve months. The Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, visited Seoul from 22 to 24 July. Minister Ferguson addressed an AustCham breakfast seminar and held several bilateral meetings with ROK ministers and business leaders, including from KOGAS and POSCO. The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Seoul and Busan on 29 and 30 November 2011, meeting with President Lee and ROK Ministers in Seoul and Busan as well as attending the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. While in Busan, Mr Rudd and his counterpart Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan witnessed the signing of a MOU between AusAID and the ROK-led Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). (In this photograph, Mr Rudd is delivering his intervention on Fragile States at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.)
The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), one of Australia's most internationally acclaimed orchestras, performed with Korean harpist Na Hyun-sun at the 29th Korea International Music Festival on 6 October. The event further enhanced and broadened Korean audiences' knowledge and appreciation of Australian classical music. The event was a sell-out. (In this photograph, the Ambassador, third from left, stands next to Violinist Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director and Lead Violin, and Harpist Na Hyun-sun from the ACO.)
Following critically acclaimed performances throughout its 2010 European Tour, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Vladimir Ashkenazy toured in November, continuing the vital role the orchestra plays as one of Australia’s leading cultural ambassadors. The orchestra’s full ensemble of 96 musicians performed two concerts at the Seoul Arts Centre. The Sydney Symphony provided master classes for Korean music school students in conjunction with the College of Music, Seoul National University. (In this photograph, Principal Conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy leads Korean music school students from the College of Music, Seoul National University in performing Symphony no. 5 in E, P.I Tchaikovsky.)
Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011 was major new exhibition of Korean and Australian contemporary art celebrating the Year of Friendship. The project highlighted the historical and ongoing connections between Australian and Korean art by bringing together a dynamic mix of ideas, images and objects from Australian and Korean artists across generations. The event featured a reciprocal exhibition in Australia at the National Art School Gallery in June 2011 and in Korea at the National Museum of Contemporary Arts in Korea in November 2011. (In this photograph, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Curator, Glenn Barkley, provides an explanation of the work of art to Ambassador, HE Sam Gerovich, and Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Brendan Berne.)
Visits by prominent Australians have also demonstrated the intellectual power Australia is able to generate. We welcomed one of Australia’s 13 Nobel Laureate winners, Dr Barry Marshall AC, and 2007 Australian of the Year and Australia’s Climate Change Commissioner, Dr Tim Flannery, to Korea in the past six months. During his visit in early November, Dr Marshall, awarded scholarships to the top science students at the Daejeon Science High School, presented a lecture at KAIST, and met with senior educational and research staff at various institutions. In December, as part of his role as Australia's Chief Climate Commissioner, Dr Flannery met with influential figures across ROK government, business and academia, including a series of lectures to Seoul National and Yonsei University students, as well as meeting prominent National Assembly and other government representatives to discuss progress in Australia to promote a Clean Energy Future.
2012 therefore promises to be a very exciting and busy year for us all.
I wish you all good fortune for it.
Ambassador of Australia