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Denmark and Korea: Celebrating 60 years of partnership

It is a great pleasure to usher in the Year of the Golden Pig, a joyous occasion that also marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Korea. 

And although the diplomatic ties were established in March 11, 1959, the friendly relations between our countries go even further back to 1902, when the Empire of Chosun and the Kingdom of Denmark concluded the “Friendship, Trade, and Sea-trade Treaty.” 

In more modern years, we can also look back to 1951 when Denmark sent the hospital ship Jutlandia to Korea as humanitarian assistance to wounded soldiers and Korean civilians during the Korean War -- a fact well commemorated by the Jutlandia Memorial Hall at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Denmark. 

Danish ambassador Thomas Lehmann
Danish ambassador Thomas Lehmann

As ambassadors, we are proud that our two countries have shared a friendship and mutual understanding that has grown ever stronger, with our cooperation widening and deepening every year. 

Some memorable milestones include the establishment of a strategic partnership in 2011 that outlined key areas of focus including the world’s first bilateral green growth alliance. In 2016, a joint action plan was announced that represented a significant step forward in our relations, setting out 30 objectives within key areas of cooperation such as green technology, design, investment, life science, tourism, food, maritime affairs, research and security policy.

Most recently, Denmark and Korea reaffirmed our mutual commitment to addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development goals. In October 2018, Korean President Moon Jae-in participated in the inaugural summit of the multilateral initiative P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), where Denmark and Korea are among the founding members. 

During the visit the two Heads of State agreed to utilize the momentum provided by the 60th diplomatic anniversary to elevate our partnership to a new level and expand bilateral cooperation to even more areas such as digitalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

Korean ambassador Choi Jai-chul
Korean ambassador Choi Jai-chul

Furthermore, 2019 was designated the Year of Culture, with HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Kang Suejin, former iconic ballerina and artistic director of the Korean National Ballet as the patrons. 

The year will be kick-started with two exciting events in January in Denmark followed by cultural events in both countries all throughout the year celebrating our special partnership.

As such, the friendship between Denmark and Korea has been one that has deepened and mutually benefited both parties throughout the years. And this is no coincidence: Our countries share many similarities that allow us to see eye to eye on many issues. 

We are both open, outward-looking economies. By prioritizing human resources, innovation, and research and development, we have seen tremendous success and today stand at the forefront advocating free trade. Denmark and Korea are home to many global innovative companies such as Samsung, Hyundai Motor Group, LG, Maersk, Novo Nordisk and Lego.

Denmark and Korea also both hold the flag up high when defending values such as human rights and gender issues. We uphold a multilateral rule-based system, with the United Nations playing a central role. For example, we both work for dignity and human rights through dialogue and development through the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Korea served as Chairman in 2016 and Denmark will be a member in 2019-2021.

Also, Denmark fully supports the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Korea to advance inter-Korean relations and achieve complete denuclearization, while working toward permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. In order to further these shared goals, Denmark has contributed to the historic demilitarization of the DMZ as a member of the United Nations Command-Korea, proudly contributing to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula since the Korean War.

As such, Denmark and Korea have proven time and time again our compatibility in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. As ambassadors, we look forward to sowing more seeds of cooperation and people-to-people contact in 2019, and welcome you to join us in celebrating the 60th birthday of our bilateral relations.

By Thomas Lehmann, Danish ambassador to South Korea and Choi Jai-chul, South Korean ambassador to Denmark