▲ ASEAN leaders hold hands to symbolize their unity at the summit held June 1-2 in Jungmun, Jeju Island. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Government
They toured, they dined, they greeted old friends and made new ones. By all reports the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit held June 1-2 at the International Convention Center Jeju, in Jungmun, was a huge success.
Perhaps it helped that the participants, leaders of 10 Asian nations and Korea, are already on good terms, but certainly the hospitality of their Jeju hosts contributed to a successful gathering.
Every major road in Jeju Island had been festooned with flags, banners and flower baskets, making a perfect roadside attraction for the touring officials, who were treated to a trip across the island to view the awe-inspiring tuff cone of Seonsang Ilchulbang. They also took in a traditional folklore flea market and a Jeju Olle course.
Korean President Lee Myung-bak presided over a barbecued feast of Jeju beef and abalone, served at a luncheon at the Shilla Hotel.
“Food is the art of life and the essence of culture reflecting the natural environment and history,” Korean Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Yu In-chon noted.
Cultural offerings during the summit included an inaugural performance by the ASEAN-Korea Traditional Orchestra, the Jeju World Culture and Travel Expo and an opera staged at the ICC for summit participants.
ASEAN issues condemnation of NK actions But it wasn’t all about being wined, dined and entertained. Participants were keenly aware that North Korea had conducted an underground nuclear test just days before they assembled on Jeju Island.
The 11 leaders issued a press release unanimously condemning the move, and urging the North Korean government to return to the six-party talks. They asserted that North Korea’s nuclear tests and recent missile launches were clear violations of previous agreements.
“It is good that the 10 ASEAN member countries (and South Korea) spoke with one voice in condemning the nuclear issue,” Moon Tae-Young, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson, said.
Summit strengthens bonds, forges new ones Summit leaders and top government officials also covered a wide swath of topics, all aimed at strengthening political and economic bonds.
A press release from ASEAN provides a look at some of what was accomplished over the two-day summit, and where the organization is going in the near future.
Summit participants: • welcomed the official launch of the ASEAN-Korea Centre on March, 13, and pledged cooperation to ensure the center serves as a conduit for the enhancement of trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges between ASEAN and Korea; • agreed to cooperate and monitor the Free Trade Agreement implementation process by strengthening the ASEAN-Korea Economic Cooperation projects; • recognized the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises as contributors to the national economy, and therefore pledged to encourage SME access to the international market; • agreed to begin discussions on an Air Services Agreement between ASEAN and Korea, covering both passenger and air freight, by early 2010; • recognized that global cooperation in the face of recent food and energy crises is essential, and agreed to endeavor to establish the ASEAN Plus Three (Korea, Japan and China) Emergency Rice Reserve to ensure food security in the region; • and agreed to promote greater exchanges of students and teachers to facilitate the sharing of experiences for further cross-cultural exchanges between ASEAN and Korea.
The summit was productive for Korea, and profitable for Jeju. Government sources predict as much as 26 billion won in tourism and investment could flow into Jeju as result of the favorable impression made on the leaders, despite the less-than-perfect weather during their visit.
Kim Tah-hwan, governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, noted that a Malaysian development group is already investing $1.8 billion USD in a resort project.
He said in a statement, “We hope the summit will bring the citizens of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam closer to us as friends.” For summit participants he added, “And we hope that Jeju will remain in your memory for the rest of your days.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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