Charge d’Affaires Igor Denissuk of the Republic of Ukraine in Seoul said, “The Independence Day of our country on August 24 marks a truly significant day when Ukraine declared its independence on 1 December 1991 after holding a referendum in which over 90% of voters approved it.”
Speaking at an interview with The Korea Post media on the occasion of the Independence Day of Ukraine, CDA Denissuk said, “Aside from state-supported festivities, Ukrainians attend outdoor concerts, parties, and reenactments of Kyivan Rus traditions. Vyshyvankas, Ukrainian flags, and the Ukrainian coat of arms are all commonly seen on this day.” Details of the interview follow:
Question: Please introduce your National Day in detail.
Answer: This year August 24 marks the 30th Anniversary of Ukraine's Independence--a momentous occasion when all Ukrainians as well as Ukraine’s friends worldwide will celebrate the birthday of a sovereign Ukrainian state. As a part of celebration, more than 150 festive events will take place throughout the country. All of them will be united by the slogan "You are my only one", which symbolizes the vision of Ukraine's independence as a dream that many generations of Ukrainians have sought to achieve.
Ukraine is a country with a long history, great talented people, incredible potential and rich heritage. Over the years, millions of Ukrainians have fought for independence, gone through betrayals, wars and famines. And having gained such coveted freedom and statehood, a generation of our contemporaries was forced to defend freedom and the European choice in revolutions, and later - to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state from the encroachments of the northern neighbor. During 30 years of Independence, Ukraine has also overcome many challenges and therefore it is so important for Ukrainian people to celebrate this national holiday.
Besides, hundreds of foreign guests, including heads of state, representatives of foreign governments and parliaments, will arrive in Ukraine to take part in the Independence Day celebrations. In total, more 30 delegations from countries and international organizations are expected this year.
On August 23, on the Day of the State Flag of Ukraine, in all regions of the country celebrations along with a solemn raising of the blue and yellow flag - a symbol of Ukraine’s independence - will be held. In particular, the facades of the buildings of the Verkhovna Rada, the National Opera, the Palace of Ukraine and big shopping malls in Kyiv will get the colors of the State Flag.
Also on this day, Kyiv will host the founding summit of the initiative of the President of Ukraine "Crimean Platform", which will unite all existing national and international efforts to deoccupy the Ukrainian peninsula. The inaugural summit will be the platform's first event at the highest political level. President of Ukraine, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), Prime-Minister, leaders of the Crimean Tatar people, heads of foreign delegations, representatives of the newly created expert network of the Crimea platform will speak at it. As world leaders will arrive in Ukraine with their spouses, the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen launched by Ukraine will take place on this day.
On August 24, a festive parade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will take place on the central street of the capital symbolizing the power of our independence. Later in the evening at the NSC "Olympic", a holiday show "Independence in our DNA. Independence Day of the Country" will begin. It will be attended by pop stars, opera and ballet dancers, as well as a symphony orchestra. A single musical performance will combine songs that have become the musical heritage of past generations and hits of the future. This will symbolize the culture of our independence.
Q: Please introduce the latest developments in your country and between our two friendly countries. Introduce your government major achievements.
A: Seven years ago, the Ukrainian people staged a peaceful “revolution of dignity” against a corrupt regime. They stood firm even under gunfire and it was the discredited President who eventually fled the country and took refuge in Russia. Soon after the Russian Federation began armed hostilities in the east of the country, occupied part of the Donbass region and illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
One of the major achievements of the state transformation after the revolution was the restoration of Ukraine’s European integration. The Ukrainian parliament approved amendments to the Constitution that underscored accession to NATO and the EU as the main foreign policy objectives. The Association Agreement with the EU and the Ukraine-EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area entered into force in 2017 and 2016 respectively, resulting in EU becoming the largest trading partner of Ukraine. In June 2020, NATO granted Ukraine the Enhanced Opportunities Partner status, strengthening our country’s ties with the Alliance.
Ukraine has also registered successes in the political and economic arenas. It has a genuine multi-party system and holds regular elections. In 2019, both presidential and parliamentary elections were held in full compliance with national laws and international standards, demonstrating Ukrainians’ commitment to a democratic European future.
Our country has been steadily moving in recent years along the path of profound structural reforms. Transformations taking place in all key areas of the country’s life lay the foundation for quality changes and a higher standard of living. The Government has launched important structural reforms in public administration, judiciary and law enforcement, established anti-corruption agencies, and initiated a popular decentralization program to more effectively deliver public services at the local level. Most recently important legislations on land market and banking have been adopted. Despite the on-going armed aggression against Ukraine, and the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank predicts growth for the country’s economy at 1.5 percent in 2021, rising to about 3.7 percent by 2023.
Ukraine and the Republic of Korea have been enjoying friendly relations and fruitful cooperation since 10 February 1992 for almost 30 years. During this decades, the presidents of Ukraine three times visited the Republic of Korea. The Korean prime ministers twice visited Ukraine. There also has been an active exchange of visits by the heads of Parliaments of both countries.
We are grateful to the Republic of Korea and its people for the support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the humanitarian assistance in containing and fighting the COVID-19 infection.
Q: Nowadays, economic cooperation is very important between the countries. What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months? What are the areas in your country where you might wish Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea? What are the competitive products and/over services of your country attractive to Korea? Who are the companies of your country exporting your products to Korea?
A: We are very glad to see that the Republic of Korea is Ukrainian 5th trade partner within Asian countries. During last years, our trade over was increasing every year. Even during this pandemic time Korean customs statistics shows that we overpassed 1 billion US dollars in 2020.Most of Ukrainian export is agricultural products, especially grains and from your country we buy modern cars which are very well known and have a good reputation between Ukrainian customers. We trade actively with Posco International, Hyundai, Samsung and many other Korean top corporations.Last January Ukraine was included by the Republic of Korea in the list of priority countries for cooperation within Official Development Assistance for 2021-2025 and we elaborate now our partnership strategy. Within next 5 years we will cooperate in realization of many projects in high-speed railways, healthcare and other spheres.
We also are waiting for huge Korean investments. But not only just waiting. This year Ukraine adopted a new legislation which will come in force from 2022 and will provide very special conditions for big investors and “green light” in their projects’ realization.
Q: Korean people, especially the up-and-coming Korean business people, need rest and recuperation. What are your tourist attractions?
A: Ukraine is a truly unique destination to explore and visit. It is a modern country with a thousand-year history, culture and art. It is large and diverse country of creative people, beautiful nature, picturesque landscapes and admirable architecture. Despite these challenging pandemic times, Ukraine remains open for cultural, adventurous, rural, gastronomical, medical and wellness, mice and business tourism as never before.
Ukraine is a smart place to create great events, for the meeting can be combined with rich cultural heritage, authentic cuisine and excellent service. A variety of international chain-branded and national hotels, local and foreign cuisine restaurants, different types and kinds of venues for business events up to 1000+ participants, plenty of shopping malls and outlets, well-adapted for foreign visitors museums and touristic locations, wide spectrum of entertainment places and centers, convenient flights and trains between the cities are among the main advantages for planning the event in Ukraine.
Unquestionably, those who are doing business need rest and recuperation, and in this case, Ukraine has a lot to offer too. Ukraine is a prefect destination for quality and affordable relax and treatment. Ukraine is one of the leading countries in Europe in terms of availability of resort and recreational resources and every year receives thousands of visitors from abroad for medical purposes.
Our capital – Kyiv – and other beautiful cities - Odessa and Lviv are the main touristic destinations in Ukraine, in particular for healthcare treatments. Besides that, there are many rehabilitation centers located in districts with amazing climatic and landscape conditions, including the Carpathian Mountains, the coasts of the Black Sea, Dzharylgach Bay and the Azov Sea.
Moreover, there are plenty of most valuable resorts with mineral waters and therapeutic muds of almost all known balneological types such as Truskavets, Skhidnytsia, Morshyn, Berminvody, Myrhorod and many others. In addition, the diverse spa and wellness centers offer to their visitors a rage of therapies, detox, fitness and yoga programs.
Outstanding mountains, seas and rivers along with modern facilities and services, delicious local cuisine and traditional regional drinks guarantee that even a sophisticated traveler will find something special for himself in Ukraine.
Q: What are the most festive days in your country? Please elaborate.
A: Ukrainian holidays are a reflection of Ukrainian ancient history, traditions and identity. They feature a range of secular and religious holidays. Some holidays have been celebrated for thousands of years and some, particularly patriotic, have been recently added to the line up. Here are the most festive and favorite ones:
New Year, celebrated on the night of December 31-January 1st, is a massive holiday in Ukraine filled with merrymaking. Many Ukrainian cities host parties in the streets, complete with New Year’s trees and fireworks. The most important part of the holiday is gathering with loved ones to feast and celebrate.
Christmas, celebrated twice: on December 25 by the Julian calendar and on January 7 by the Georgian calendar, is a strictly religious holiday in Ukraine. Some observant Ukrainians fast all day on Christmas Eve (known as the Holy Eve), drinking only holy water. The fast is broken only when the first star in the sky appears, at which time, a feast begins. Twelve (often vegan) courses are served to represent the twelve disciples. After dinner, carolers dress in traditional clothing and parade with papier-mâché stars. Many attend a Christmas Eve church service.
Easter, celebrated at spring time on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox, marks the end of Lent, so meat and dairy dishes are abundant. Traditionally, the devout don’t sleep the night before Easter and go to their local church for a service followed by a feast that lasts until morning. Easter cannot be imagined without its two main foods – colored eggs and a kulich, which is a sweetened, decorated bread made in a tall cylindrical mold. As for the eggs, two forms of them are traditionally made in Ukraine: pysanka (the iconic decorated eggs hand painted with intricate designs) and krashenka (dyed eggs).
At spring time we have also many city days, especially Kyiv Day during last week-en of May when all our capital is blooming with chestnuts.
Along with the official holidays there are many unofficial holidays that are traditionally celebrated. Among them Old New Year (night from 13 to 14 January) that coincides with Malanka, a Slavic folk holiday that celebrates the coming spring (another name of the holiday is “The Generous Night”. People go caroling at night and perform skits and dances); Maslenitsya (Slavic holiday marked by a mass baking of flat pancakes called, in Ukrainian, mlintsi); Vyshyvanka Day (the day, celebrated by wearing a vyshyvanka, a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt, serves as a reminder of Ukraine’s unique identity and encourages feelings of unity); Kupala Day (refers to Kupalo, the Slavic god of love and the harvest. The joyful and lively holiday traditionally marks the beginning of the harvest and is celebrated with the elements – particularly water and fire).
Q: Do you have Honorary Consul in Korea? If yes, how are they contributing to the promotion of cooperation and friendship between the two countries?
A: Yes, the Honorary Consul of Ukraine (Mr. Kim Hee-joon) has its office in Asan City and Seoul as well.
The main contribution of the Honorary Consul of Ukraine to the promotion of cooperation and friendship between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea is the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between the two countries and otherwise promoting friendly relations, in particular:
--Providing support of Ukraine by the Korean side in international arena, including on the issue of deoccupation of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
--Intensification and promotion of cooperation within the framework of inter-parliamentary friendship group between Ukraine and Korea;
--Ensuring of the simplification of visa regime for citizens of Ukraine, traveling to the Republic of Korea;
--Creation of centers to promote bilateral business cooperation;
--Holding of big economic events (trade forums, exhibitions, etc.), usually twice a year;
--Providing support in celebrating Ukrainian national holidays in the Republic of Korea, particularly through diplomatic receptions especially Independence Day and Constitution Day.