Source: Government of the Republic of Korea
Your Majesties, distinguished guests,
Buenas noches, good evening.
I am very pleased to see Your Majesties again in Madrid after our meeting in Korea a year and eight months ago. It is such a great honor for me to be invited as the first state guest of Spain since the COVID-19 outbreak. I am deeply grateful for your warm welcome and magnificent dinner.
As emphasized at the 2014 coronation, Your Majesty has carried forward Spain’s great traditions and achievements as sustainable legacies for the future while looking “beyond and above” the current situation.
Your Majesty’s vision combined with the people’s united determination has enabled Spain to emerge as an advanced democracy with a robust economy and a country that offers the joys of nature, the humanities and arts.
I was told that Your Majesties traveled to every corner of Spain last year to give encouragement to the people suffering due to COVID-19.
In your Christmas address last year, Your Majesty said that 2020 was an extremely difficult year but Spain would move forward. This message gave courage and hope not only to the Spanish people but all of humanity now fighting against COVID-19. I salute Your Majesty for exhibiting outstanding leadership – holding your people’s hands, working together with them – to overcome COVID-19.
Though lying on opposite ends of the vast Eurasian continent, Spain and Korea resemble one another.
Both our peoples are passionate and warmhearted, holding high regard for family and community values. In addition, our countries overcame a period of authoritarian rule and have successfully achieved democratization and economic growth, thereby emerging as key middle powers in the international community.
Spain rendered significant support to help the Republic of Korea, a newly independent country after World War II, grow as a member of the international community. Our countries have forged a friendship for over 70 years.
In particular, following Your Majesties’ state visit to Korea in October 2019, Spain and Korea have further deepened our extraordinarily friendly ties, which have led to close cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Korean people have not forgotten Spain’s cooperation in helping some Koreans stranded in Equatorial Guinea return home safely in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. The rapid diagnostic test kits we provided to Spain are also a result of profound friendship.
Koreans are fond of this country. In 2019, right before the COVID-19 outbreak, as many as 630,000 Koreans visited Spain. Last April, a Korean flag carrier introduced a sightseeing flight, and Spain was the theme of its first program.
A tourism powerhouse, Spain is the second most visited country and the country with the third most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. However, Koreans do not merely love Spain’s history and culture; they also love how Spain takes on challenges for the future. We hope to work together on such common future tasks as the climate change response, green recovery and Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Korean people and I are confident that Spain has more great achievements to come. As a companion through 70 years of friendship, we are ready to join that journey.
Your Majesties and distinguished guests,
In 2019, more than 8,200 Korean pilgrims walked the Camino de Santiago, reflecting on their lives and finding peace of mind and rest.
This year, marking the beginning of another 70 years of bilateral relations, I am certain that the path to be taken jointly by Spain and Korea will also become a “buen camino” that fills each other’s journey with good luck.
I offer a toast for eternal friendship between our two countries, good health for Their Majesties and endless progress for Korea and Spain.
Salud! Muchas Gracias!