The Turkish Embassy in Seoul will host a variety of cultural events throughout the year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Ankara's envoy to South Korea Arslan Hakan Okcal said Thursday.
On March 8, South Korea and Turkey mark six decades of formal diplomatic ties, a decision which followed the Eurasian country's dispatch of its troops to fight in the 1950-53 Korean War.
With the total number of casualties reaching 1,005, Turkey suffered the third-largest death toll among United Nations member states that sent troops to fight on the side of South Korea.
Having named 2017 as a "Turkish-Korea Year," the embassy is arranging a host of cultural events in celebration, including a photographic exhibition of Turkey's contributions to the Korean War, the ambassador said in a press briefing.
The exhibition will open in June at the War Memorial of Korea, a national war museum, in central Seoul. Other exhibitions, a jazz concert and street and food festivals with schedules now being fixed will also take place in the coming months, the ambassador said.
"Throughout the year, the embassy will try to mark its presence stronger than before," Ambassador Okcal said, adding that the celebratory events may also include a friendly football match between the two countries.
With terrorist attacks and a coup attempt, 2016 was a difficult year for Turkey, but 2017 should be better, he said, encouraging more Koreans to come visit his country.
"Koreans should not hesitate to travel to Turkey; nothing happening there. It's sound, secure to come to Turkey," he stressed.
Since the free trade agreement Seoul and Ankara signed in 2012, bilateral trade volume increased to US$6.1 billion in 2016 from $1.3 billion posted in 2000, but growth has been more in favor of the Korean side, the ambassador said.
He then cited Turkey's fresh fruits, nuts, medical and chemical goods as well as jets and tanks as potential trade goods that the country would like to promote.
Doubling also as Turkey's ambassador to North Korea, Okcal had a chance to visit the communist country only once in May 2014 when he was there to present his credentials to the regime, he said.
"Every time there is a crisis situation, we are one of the supporters of the United Nations resolutions on North Korea. We are co-signers of the resolutions or instigators of statements that condemn North Korea for its provocations and activities," he said, adding that Turkey doesn't shy away from openly discussing the dangers of North Korea's nuclear and missile development as well as its human rights concerns.
"We are concerned about peace and stability here and we are supportive of the Republic of Korea's positions. That's why I am not able to visit North Korea," he noted. (Yonhap)