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Speech by President S R Nathan at the Presentation of the Key of Fortune and Certificate of Honorary Citizen of Seoul City on 17 April 2002, 11.40am at Seoul City Hall

SPEECH BY PRESIDENT S R NATHAN AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE KEY OF FORTUNE AND CERTIFICATE OF HONORARY CITIZEN OF SEOUL CITY ON 17 APRIL 2002 11.40 AM AT SEOUL CITY HALL

Your Excellency Mayor Goh Kun

Mrs Goh

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for the warm welcome and hospitality that the Seoul Metropolitan City has accorded to my delegation, my wife and me this morning. I am humbled by this great honour that has been bestowed on me, with the conferment of the Key of Fortune and Certificate of Honorary Citizen of Seoul City. It is an honour which I accept on behalf of the people of Singapore.

2 The honour conferred on me today is testimony to the warm and friendly relationship between Korea and Singapore. Our countries share many social and cultural similarities, and our people-to-people ties remains strong. Korea was one of the top tourist destinations for Singaporeans in 2001. More than 71,000 Singaporeans visited Korea last year to enjoy its rich cultural traditions and many scenic sites.

3 Seoul is a city of many faces. It is the mega-modern political, economic and financial hub of Korea, but at the same time, a kaleidoscope of a rich ancient culture. Seoul and its citizens have indeed captivated all of us in my delegation. As we look out of our hotel window, we see the Central Business District in Gangnam peppered with modern skyscrapers. But as we drive to the city centre in Gangbuk, we sense Korea's rich history and culture encapsulated in many centuries-old palaces, gardens and ancient city gates.

4 At another level, Seoul symbolises the resilient spirit of the Korean people. The "Miracle on the Han River" had propelled Korea from the ashes of the Korean War to become the world's twelfth largest economy in one generation. Most recently, the "Second Miracle on the Han River" helped Korea to recover from the pains of the 1997 Asian financial contagion in double-quick time and laid the foundations for an economically stronger Korea. Seoul, with nearly a quarter of Korea's 46 million population, has played a pivotal role in this remarkable recovery.

5 As the gateway to Korea and the region, Seoul is in the forefront promoting Korea to the world. The Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988 captivated the world and introduced Korea's warm hospitality and rich culture to an international audience. People from around the world will now have another opportunity to enjoy Korea's warm hospitality during the forthcoming World Cup Soccer Finals, with Seoul hosting the opening match next month. May I express the hope that all who come to Seoul, will leave with as much appreciation for your warm hospitality and friendship, as I and my wife and members of my delegation feel from our short stay here.

Your Excellency

Mrs Goh

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

6 Once again, I deeply appreciate this warm gesture of friendship in conferring on me the Key of Fortune and Certificate of Honorary Citizen of Seoul City. And in accepting this honour, I join Mayor Goh Kun in sharing the hope that Singapore and Seoul City will be brought closer together in cooperative activities and exchanges that would boost trade, tourism and above all, deepen the friendship between our peoples.

Kamsah Hamnida!

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