Speech of His Majesty the King of the Belgians at the State banquet hosted by His Excellency Moon Jae-In, President of the Republic of Korea
Queen Mathilde and I thank you for your very warm welcome, and for the touching words you have just addressed to us. Once again, we feel privileged to be your guest. We are delighted to rediscover the greatness of your culture and the beauty of your nature. The unique colour of Goryeo celadon, the delightful flavours of your royal dishes, the melodious sounds of Gayageum instruments. We just wish we could stay longer !
What strikes us every time we come here, is Korea’s ongoing transformation. In the Land of the Morning Calm, change is constantly at work, slowly but surely. Heir to a rich history and centuries-old traditions, Korea looks resolutely towards the future.
In the course of its history, the people of Korea have undergone many trials and tribulations, yet they have always shown exceptional courage and resilience. I believe, that this inner strength is the secret of your rapid development, your outstanding participation in the global economy and your current position on the world stage.
It is the same strength with which you successfully engage in multilateralism and regional integration. You also manage to combine your great sense of perfection and excellence with the quest for maximum well-being for everyone.
We are touched by the renewed expression of your gratitude for our action during the Korean War. At the National Cemetery this morning, we paid tribute to all the soldiers, who sacrificed their lives, and to all the victims of that war. We share the same determination as you to work for peace, prosperity and the defence of democratic values, all over the globe.
We wish to express our support for your untiring efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. We welcome the success of recent summit meetings between the North and the South, for which you have huge merit.
The relations between our two countries have been growing stronger and stronger in recent decades. Economic cooperation has intensified, with major Belgian companies becoming more and more active in Korea, and an increasing number of Korean companies finding their way to Belgium. The Free Trade Agreement with the European Union has undeniable benefits for both of our countries.
Our academic relations are also flourishing. The Ghent University Global Campus in Songdo, Korean language teaching in Belgium, and the numerous cooperation agreements between our higher education institutions and research centres bear witness to that.
In the cultural field, we are delighted to welcome extraordinary young Korean musical talents to the Queen Elisabeth Competition, every year. Korea stands out, not only for its own traditional music, but also for its excellent practitioners of European classical music.
Its identity as a modern state is marked in many other artistic fields too. Its literature, for example, and of course K-Pop, which has won the hearts of many adolescents in Belgium, as it has everywhere else. That is also why we are delighted by the presence of a Korean Cultural Centre in Brussels. It is a real window on Korea, in the heart of our Belgian and European capital.
The Queen and I, together with the members of our delegation, are particularly happy to celebrate the deep friendship between our two countries today. We thank you in particular for your efforts in making our visit a success.
As we noticed yesterday, when we visited the Furniture Museum, every door in this country is an invitation to enter. It is an invitation to discover your country in all its beauty and diversity, an invitation to share and to exchange. I hope that the doors of our hearts will open in a similar fashion.
May the prosperity of our two peoples flourish, on the solid basis of this sincere friendship. With this firm wish in mind, I invite you to stand for a toast. (…)
Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise your glasses to the health of the President and the First Lady. To the everlasting friendship between our countries.
Only the spoken word counts.