Pretoria, 2 October 2020 

Dear friends, colleagues and partners, 

We hope that you, your family and friends are all keeping well in these unprecedented times. This year, we have had to deal with the new circumstances, and sadly, we lost some of our close South African friends along the way

If we were in normal circumstances, you would certainly already have been invited to join us in celebrating the 4,353rd anniversary of the Korean National Foundation Day and the 72nd anniversary of Armed Forces Day at our Residence. Indeed, this would have been my third and last national day reception I would host as the Korean Ambassador to South Africa, and in this regard, this would have been very special kairos moments to me personally

It is not only I but indeed all of us at the Embassy. Surely you are also missing the atmosphere, gathering under the fullblooming Jacaranda trees in our Residence garden, with pleasant weather, clear and blue skies, having a glass of superb South African wine, chatting and hugging, and having Korean cuisine such as Bulgoki, Kimbap and Kimchi. Many of our South African friends have expressed their feelings of missing our cultural activities, like our monthly Korean film nights, our annual Korean Film & Food Festival in Centurion, and our annual Kpop and Korean essay contests, etc

You might remember last years charity fundraising event, Diplomatic International Cultural Day & Hanbok Promotion Eventheld on 30 September in our embassy chancery, where more than 30 Embassies participated in the event, showcasing their traditional costumes and performing their traditional dances. It was a very successful and meaningful event at which many ambassadors participated wearing traditional costumes

During my tenure in South Africa, I have been very fortunate to meet and work with many South African friends, colleagues, and partners who are hospitable and supportive of our embassys endeavours. Among others, it was my great pleasure to witness that Korean South African ties are reaching new heights after the G20 Summit in Argentina in December 2018, where Korea‘s President, His Excellency Moon Jaein and His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa held a bilateral meeting for the first time

On 24 April this year President Cyril Ramaphosa had a telephonic discussion with President Moon JaeIn, who expressed support in helping South Africas fight against COVID19. Since then, many tons of mielie meal, thousands and thousands of face masks, tons of disinfectants and thousands of COVID19 test kits were donated to South Africa by the Korean government, Korean communities in South Africa and Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics, KEPCO, GP&E, Polaris Shipping and Nexen Tire, which are currently operating in South Africa

We have been impressed by the South African governments efforts in fighting against COVID19, its flexible measures in applying lockdown regulations to ease economic tensions and providing multisectoral humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities. Recently, newly confirmed and active cases in South Africa are declining across the country, which is a good news for all of us


However, for health and safety precautions for COVID19, we are still encouraged and obliged to wear face masks and to maintain social distancing until an effective treatment and vaccine are found. In this context, we chose to reach you with this letter conveying our concern, deep gratitude and our longing for the way of life we so enjoyed before the pandemic hit the world so hard

Taking this opportunity we would like to extend our deepest gratitude and a heartfelt thank you to all our South African friends for your friendship, cooperation, kind assistance and invaluable support this year. Without your proper and timely assistancewe would have been totally unable to repatriate many hundreds of stranded Korean citizens in South Africa as well as those who were in Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and even Mozambique under the strict lockdown regulations and border closures

We would like to pay our special thanks to the Germany Embassy, notably to H.E. Ambassador, Dr Martin Schäfer, to the Japanese Embassy, notably to H.E. Ambassador, Mr Norio Maruyama, and to the Qatari Embassy, to H.E. Ambassador, Mr Tariq Bin Ali Faraj AlAnsari, for their invaluable assistance rendered to our embassy and Korean citizens during the early repatriation process

When we requested a relaxation of the lockdown restrictions to allow international travel via repatriation flights into South Africa for those who had critical skills, like engineers and experts in special areas, DIRCO, the DTIC and DHA responded promptly to our requests, and many of them were issued with visas and permission to travel to South Africa

We are truly grateful and indebted to all those who have gone the extra mile for good causes. We hope this kind of collaboration should serve as a good example for others that we all care for and cooperate with each other, not only in a bilateral relations, but also in multilateral relations. We will prevail and overcome the COVID19 pandemic if all countries pull together through solidarity and cooperation

We wish to thank you all who are fighting against COVID 19 in South Africa. Until we win the battle against COVID19, we hope you stay safe and healthy. We further hope that everyones life returns to normal again soon so that we can again celebrate together, face to face, our National Foundation Day in wonderful Spring weather in 2021

Warm regards

Dr JongDae Park Ambassador of the Republic of Korea