Celebrations of 66th Independence Day of Sri Lanka in South Korea
Embassy of Sri Lanka, Seoul, South Korea
Feb 16, 2014
During the first week of February, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul organized four events in honour of the 66th Independence Day of Sri Lanka.

1) February 04, 2014
On the morning of February 4th, staff of the Sri Lanka Embassy gathered on the Embassy premises, braving frigid temperatures of around -5?C, to celebrate Sri Lanka’s independence. Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne first unfurled the national flag, which was followed by singing of the Sri Lankan National Anthem, a two-minute silent observation to honour fallen heroes of Sri Lanka, and the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. The event also honoured a multi-religious culture with representation by Sri Lanka’s four main religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Following, light refreshments were served.

2) February 5, 2014
Sri Lankan Food Festival in Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel – South Korea

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Korea, in collaboration with the Millennium Seoul Hilton and the Colombo Hilton, organized a Sri Lankan food festival at the Orangerie Restaurant of the Millennium Hilton Hotel in Seoul.

Two experienced Sri Lankan chefs from the Colombo Hilton were specially flown to Seoul to prepare authentic and traditional Sri Lankan cuisine for the festival, providing a chance for the food lovers from all regions to taste foods such as hoppers, kottu roti, curries, coconut sambol and watalappan.

The festival commenced with a press luncheon on 5th February 2014 at the Orangerie Restaurant. Over 150 guests were in attendance including leading Korean press, VIPs and the chief guest, Mr. Tissa Wijeratne, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Korea. The luncheon officially opened the festival to the public and publicized Sri Lanka’s food festival in Korea.

In organizing these events, the Embassy of Sri Lanka hoped to promote the Sri Lankan food and culture, strengthen bilateral relations between Korea & Sri Lanka and present Sri Lanka as a key tourist destination for Koreans. In fact, in 2013, Korean tourist arrivals increased by approximately 43% as compared to the previous year. These numbers were expected not only because of Sri Lanka’s popularity for its natural beauty, rich culture, heritage and religion, but also due to successful promotional tourism activities. The festival commenced on 5th February 2014 and will continue until 28th February 2014.

3) February 6, 2014
On the evening of February 6th, Ambassador Wijeratne hosted a reception at the Millennium Hilton Hotel to mark Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. Hon. Na Seung-il, Vice Minister of Education and Hon. Shin Sung Bum, President of the Korea - Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association were special guests at the event. Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Shin said that Sri Lanka and South Korea are bolstering co-operation in various fields in order to expand bilateral relations.

The Ambassador addressed an unprecedented gathering of close to 350 persons including Korean officials, diplomats, the business community, travel, trade, cultural and academic organizations and the media. The Ambassador explained to the audience that the Republic of Korea has been a critical partner for Sri Lanka since ties were initiated in 1968 and over the years, relations have expanded, strengthened and gained vitality.

He further stated that Sri Lanka remains grateful to the Korean Government, especially in the sphere of development assistance. Many Sri Lankans are finding employment opportunities in the Republic of Korea and these workers are making significant contributions to the economic development of both countries. Tourism has also improved especially after Korean Air launched their direct flight service from Seoul to Colombo last year. The Ambassador concluded by noting delegation visits have further consolidated relations and have maintained the longstanding and warm friendship between people of both countries.

During the reception, guests had the opportunity to taste authentic Sri Lankan food including the traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry prepared by two Sri Lanka chefs who were brought to Seoul from the Colombo Hilton Hotel.

4) February 9, 2014:
On February 9, 2014, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul celebrated the 66th Anniversary with Sri Lankans living in the community.

Amid snow-covered streets and bone-chilling winter temperatures, a large number of Sri Lankans and Korean friends attended the ceremony including Hon. Song, Young-Gil, Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City, Ambassador Ma Young Sam, Representative of Government of Korea, as the guests of honour. Senior government officials, members of the business community, officials of migrant centers, media organizations, Korean friends of Sri Lanka and members of the Sri Lankan community were also associated with the event.

The official programme started with the hoisting of the national flag by Ambassador Wijeratne, singing of the National Anthem, observation of two minutes of silence to honour fallen heroes of Sri Lanka and lighting of the traditional oil lamp. Symbolic cake cutting was followed by Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Christian religious observances, respectively, to invoke blessings upon the President, Sri Lanka and its people. His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s message for the Independence Day was then recited by Embassy officers.

Letters of Appreciation were presented to fifteen well-wishers, who have rendered commendable service to the Sri Lankan community in Korea. It was an event that presented the warm relationship between the two communities.

Audiences also enjoyed the artistic dances of talented Sri Lankan Dancers including Lakmal Sasanka, “Rataviruvo” talent star who performed remarkably with the melodies of the Sri Lankan drums and traditional music.

The ceremony adorned the culture and traditions of Sri Lanka. Most importantly, the country’s Independence Day was celebrated with genuine contribution of the Sri Lankan migrant workers who are temporarily away from their motherland. Additionally, the diversity of attendance was a showcase to Sri Lanka’s exceptional relationship with South Korea.

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