65th Independence Day celebrations in Seoul, South Korea
By Embassy of Sri Lanka, Seoul
Feb 15, 2013
Celebrations of the 65thAnniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka and the 35th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea

To mark the above significant occasions, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul organized four outstanding events in South Korea with the participation of a large number of Sri Lankan nationals, Koreans and foreigners.

February 04, 2013
1) In the morning of February 4th, members of the Sri Lankan Embassy celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Despite the-15oC temperature, staff braved the frigid weather conditions to celebrate the event held on the premises of the Embassy in Seoul. The hoisting of the national flag by Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne was followed by singing of the Sri Lankan National Anthem. The event also honoured Sri Lanka’s multi-religious culture by representing the four main religions of Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Following, light refreshments were served.

February, 6th, 2013
2) A luncheon to celebrate the opening of Sri Lanka’s first ever food festival in Korea was held on 6th February at the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel. Leading Korean Press and VIPs were among the more than 150 invitees. Guests had the opportunity to transcend to a higher level of entertainment with the cultural performances by the renowned Channa–Upuli dance troupe of Sri Lanka, who performed for the first time in Seoul.

Two experienced Sri Lankan chefs from the Colombo Hilton Hotel, whose visit was arranged by the Embassy, prepared Sri Lanka food for the Food Festival. The food festival will continue until February 28that the “Orangerie” restaurant in the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel. This will provide an opportunity for Korean food lovers to taste sumptuous and authentic Sri Lankan food such as hoppers, kotturoti, some special curries, coconut sambol, and watalappan.

3) On the evening of February 6th, Ambassador Wijeratne hosted a reception at the Millennium Hilton Hotel to mark Sri Lanka’s Independence Day and the 35th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and South Korea. Hon. Kim Kum-Lae, Korean Minister of Gender Equality and Family, was the Chief Guest at the event. Speaking on the occasion, Minister Kim stated that Sri Lanka and South Korea are bolstering co-operation in various venues in order to expand bilateral relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Wijeratne addressing the 300 guests’ including Korean officials, diplomats, the business community, travel, trade, cultural and academic organizations and the media, indicated that Sri Lanka is steadily moving towards economic development with remarkable progress and the promise of growth. These strong economic fundamentals have made it a preferred destination for foreign investors. The Ambassador further noted that Korean Air direct flights from Seoul to Colombo will launch on 9th March 2013 and will drastically increase the number of Korean tourists to Sri Lanka in the coming years.

The Ambassador elaborated that establishing these direct air links will open a new chapter in the bilateral-commercial relationship between Sri Lanka & Korea as well as boost trade ties between the two countries. Ambassador Wijeratne also expressed his hope for the Government of Sri Lankan to closely work with President-elect Madame Park Geun–hye and the new Administration and to continue to strengthen Sri Lanka’s longstanding bilateral relations with the Republic of Korea.

As the Independence Day celebrations continued the Sri Lankan Dance troupe, Channa-Upuli, lit up and attracted a large audience with their elegant and stylistic dances. Guests also enjoyed screenings of documentaries, which provided some insight into the island nation of Sri Lanka.

The guests further had the opportunity to taste authentic Sri Lankan food including traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry prepared by the two Sri Lanka chefs from the Colombo Hilton Hotel.

February 9th, 2013
4) Hundreds of Sri Lankan migrant workers employed in South Korea celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence with the Embassy of Sri Lanka on February 9th, 2013.

The official programme started with the hoisting of the Sri Lankan National Flag by Ambassador Wijeratne. After the National Anthems of both Sri Lanka and Korea and the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, the Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Christian religious observances were conducted to invoke blessings upon the President, Sri Lanka, and its people. The special Independence Day message by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also recited.

A large number of Sri Lankans and Korean friends’ attended amid snow-covered streets and bone-chilling winter temperatures. Ambassador Ma Young Sam, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Park Hae-Yun, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were the Guests of Honour. Senior government officials, members of the business community dealing with Sri Lanka, officials of migrant centers, media organizations, Korean friends of Sri Lanka and members of the Sri Lanka community were also present at the event. This diverse group of guests points to Sri Lanka’s exceptional relationship with South Korea and many other countries.

The ceremony also adorned the culture and traditions of Sri Lanka, especially with the talented Channa-Upuli Dance Troupe, who performed remarkably with the melodies of the Sri Lankan drums and traditional music. Most importantly, the country’s Independence Day was celebrated with the genuine contribution of the Sri Lankan migrant workers who are temporarily away from their motherland. Their patriotic spirit weaved among the attendees and heightened as the day’s wondrous celebrations continued.

The 65th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence was celebrated glamorously in Korea at the events described previously and with the assistance of many individuals. The four events commemorated Sri Lanka’s unique culture and traditions with beautiful dances and exquisite cuisine, which were experienced by many guests in attendance.

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