The Korean Embassy in South Africa will end about 20 years of residing in a rented office and finally possess its own building.
The embassy held a groundbreaking ceremony for its building Monday in the Muckleneuk neighborhood of capital Pretoria, according to foreign ministry officials.
The ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Lee Kyung-soo, Korean Ambassador to South Africa Lee Yoon, South African foreign ministry officials and leaders of the Korean community there.
The new embassy will consist of a three-story main building and two-story consular building on a 4,446-square-meter site. The $8 million construction project is to be completed in February 2015.
The new facility will have an antechamber, a counseling room, a multipurpose room for cultural performances and lectures, and a large conference room.
South Korea established diplomatic ties with South Africa in December 1992, and has since rented offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria.
The Korean Embassy in South Africa began with four members, including the ambassador. After expanding to a diplomatic mission of 12 members in a cramped 804-square-meter facility, it had to move its consular section to a nearby building in 2007.
Arguing that the embassy’s appearance did not match the strong national image Korea sought to portray, the Korean government bought a lot in 2008 to build its own embassy facilities.
During the roughly two decades when the embassy was based in Groenkloof, South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, visited South Korea twice. President Jacob Zuma attended the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
In 2011, then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Durban, South Africa, to watch Korea win its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.
By Chun Sung-woo (email@example.com