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Interview with German envoy, Dr. Michael Geier, and his wife, Mrs. Geier Enjoying the Personal Touch in Korea On June 25, a meeting was held in YangPyoung, Kyunggi Province, in preparation for the "2005 Global Costume Festival" to be held in Jinju, South Kyoungsang Province, from October 7 to 9. More than 30 foreign diplomats and their families got together to be measured for their Hanbok and evening dress that they will wear during the festival.
German envoy to Seoul, gave a short speech as an opening ceremony on behalf of all diplomats attended on this meeting, starting with a mention of the book entitled "Korea: Travel Impressions" written by Dr. Siegfried Genthe, the first German journalist to visit Korea in 1901, and published 4 years later after the author's death in Morocco.
He said, "I read the last part of the book en route to YangPyoung, and the impressions of it weighed heavily upon me at the moment I was asked to give a speech on behalf of the diplomatic community to thank President Yang for giving us this wonderful experience to prepare the festival."
He quoted from the book: "A new time has arrived for this country to awaken from a fairytale sleep. It will be able to accept Western thoughts and institutions much faster than its neighbors, because its people have brighter minds and wider hearts". Dr. Geier added that he really likes Korean people and its culture very much.
Julia Pentagna Geier, wife of German ambassador, said that she fully agrees with not only this old description about Korea the author wrote a long time ago, but also she likes the part where the author writes: "Seoul is infinitely more captivating than Peking or Tokyo. The street life in Seoul is so much more colorful than the colors of Peking, the persons so much more authentic than those of Tokyo".
Asked about the first impression on Korea when they arrived, "We arrived in Korea directly from Berlin at the end of July 2003. I felt as if I was at home, since Seoul is very much similar with my birthplace, which is Sao Paulo in Brazil in many ways. In the evening on that day, our dear friend called Dr. Schmelter, director of the Goethe Institute, took us to Namdaemun Market. Particularly for my husband, it was a revelation, a place full of life. So far, Namdaemun is my favorite place in Seoul and I never get lost! I especially like to buy flowers there and eat delicious Korean food in the food stalls", she said, smiling.
"I am really impressed how Korean people have managed to maintain their beautiful traditional culture which goes much further back than my own and even my husband's. We are impressed by both things old and the modern in Korea," she said. "For instance, Shilla ruins, venerable temples, modern art and films. We regret that our very limited Korean skills impose many obstacles to understanding what is really happening around us sometimes", she added.
She said that Korean people have been kind to them from the beginning and especially she cherishes the opportunity offered by the Mayor of Seongbuk-gu to meet some poor people to give them Kimchi. "I am very proud to be a honorary citizen of Seongbuk-gu and I really cherish that," she said.
Asked about what kind of ideas of things they would like to introduce from Korea to Germany, Mrs. Geier replied, "We wish that polite Korean behavior towards friends and even strangers on the street could be transported to Germany. From the greeting to the farewell, Koreans try to establish a far more personal contact than I am used to do. Also, we would like to transport the respect towards the old and the wise which has been lost somehow in Western culture."
Both the ambassador and his wife finally said that they are looking forward to participating in the 2005 Global Costume Festival as it will not only offer a good chance to see numerous types of international costume here in Korea, but will also be an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange between Korea and local foreign representatives.
Over 30 foreign diplomats and their family members got together in Yangpyong, Kyonggi Province, on June 25.
They are from the embassies of Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
Fifty ambassadors to Seoul and their wives will participate in the costume festival to showcase their nation's traditional costumes and the "hanbok," a traditional Korean costume.
During their get-together, the diplomats and their family members were not only fitted for their costumes, but also enjoyed performances of traditional Korean musical instruments "kayagum (traditional Korean 12-string zither)" and "samulnori (traditional Korean percussion music)."
The Global Costume Festival has been held annually in Seoul since 2001, but Chinju was picked as the venue for this year's event because it is renown for its high-quality silk in the world.
"Chinju is the fifth largest producer of silk in the world, so Chinju was selected for this year's festival," said Yang Mung-hwan, president of the Global Costume Festival.
Yang said that the festival was launched to promote hanbok and friendship with the foreign diplomatic community.
A dozen of embassies participated in the 2001 festival, but the number of participating embassies increased to 50 with the annual event gaining popularity.
There will be a car parade by 50 ambassadors and their wives clad in their national dresses on Oct. 8.
Written by Hanarum Lee (email@example.com)