Ambassador and Mrs. Edmundo Fujita of Brazil hosted a gala dinner reception at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in eastern Seoul on Sept. 12, 2014 to celebrate the Brazilian National Day.
Unlike the downtown hotels, the Walker hill Hotel was a bit far, but there seemed to be little absenteeism as the seats were almost filled.
Attending the guests from the Korean side, among other guests, were Deputy Minister Han Chong-he of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for Economic Affairs, Deputy Minister Choi Kyong-lim of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and Rep. Jasmine Lee and representatives from business, media and various other segments of Korean society, including Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
From the Diplomatic Corps came many mission chiefs with their spouses, who included Ambassadors Ngovi Kitau of Kenya, Krzysztof Majka of Poland and Hilton A. Dennis of South Africa.
There were music presented by Professor Marcos Troyjo (co-director of the BRICLab Center of Columbia University), an ensemble by Quinteto Violado and dance by Brazilean Dance Group formed by expatriaes in Korea led by Alessandre Potes. Performers from the Korean side were Ensemble Coreyah and Fluitist Yoon Hye-jin.
The food was specially prepared under the direct guidance of Brazilean Chef Klaus Limoli Pahl, and was extremely tasteful.
There also was a presentation ceremony of Letter of Appreciation to a number of Korean contributors to the promotion understanding and friendship between Korea and Brazeil.
Ambassador Fujita gave a welcome speech appreciating the attendance of the guests as well as introducig the National Day of Brazeil. Excerpts from the speech follow:
I would like to welcome you all, especially those who have come from such distant places as the northern side of Seoul and Brazil, to celebrate the Brazilian National Day with us this evening. Tonight, I do not intend to make a long address talking about past and current developments in Brazil, because I prefer to leave that in the hands of more competent interpreters, who will grace us with their knowledge and talents.
This occasion is mainly to highlight the fact that this year we are commemorating the 192nd anniversary of our Independence and the 55th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations with Korea. The current state of Brazil and our relations with Korea is certainly well known.
Perhaps as a matter of interest, I will only note that an acclaimed Brazilian historian Laurentino Gomes published in 2010 a best-selling book titled “1822 ? How a wise man, a sad princess and a money-crazy Scotsman helped Dom Pedro create Brazil--a country that had everything to go wrong”.
Effectively, by 1822, when Brazil became independent from Portugal, it had all the conditions to go wrong. The majority of the population was formed by slaves, the population was poor, the economy was based on a rudimentary agrarian system, and the rate of illiteracy was about 99%. The isolation and rivalries among the provinces forebode a possible civil war, dismembering the territory into many separate countries as in the case of the neighboring Spanish colonies. To make it even worse overall, when the Portuguese crown left Brazil in 1821 to return to Portugal, it took along all the resources of the Treasury. Thus, the new country was born already bankrupt. There was no money to pay the salaries of soldiers and public servants. The prospects for the new independent country to survive were more on the failure side than on success.
Since then, Brazil has been striving continuously to overcome one difficulty after another, crisis after crisis, transformation after transformation, throughout almost 200 years, and today, it has become the 7th largest economy of the globe. We have become a large democratic multiethnic and multicultural nation, living in an indivisible territory, and speaking one common language, and being proud of being a most peaceful and creative people. We have not had any conflicts with our neighbors for over 150 years. Our creativity is not only in our music, soccer or volleyball, but also in the sciences. For example, most recently, a Brazilian mathematician, Artur Avila (which some misinformed media referred to as a Frenchman) was awarded the Fields Medal, considered as a Nobel Prize in Mathematics.
In fact, he was born in Rio de Janeiro and did all his studies in Brazil. He got his PhD at the age of 21 years old from IMPA, Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics, which is a world reference in the field. Today, he holds a double research position at IMPA and Le Conseil National des Recherches Scientifiques in France.
Programs like the Brazilian Mathematics Olympiads, which inspired Artur Avila to follow his fields, and “Science without Borders” are being promoted to foster more talents like him. Younger generations are being prepared to widen the country’s educational base and Brazil’s qualified human resources. Also, social infrastructure projects are being improved and strengthened to ameliorate the quality of life of ordinary citizens.
We are aware that more challenges are ahead, as well as opportunities. Brazil is a large and complex country, with diversified regions, populations and conditions. But the people of Brazil will not give up, and will continue striving with determination and purpose, in order to build a more advanced and equitable society. And with the support and cooperation of friendly partners, such as Korea, we are confident that we the goal will be achieved sooner rather than later.
Our relations with Korea have kept a most dynamic pace for over a decade, and should reach ever higher levels. Economic and trade relations as well as educational exchanges are intensifying noticeably. And today, the peoples of Brazil and Korea know more about each other than in decades past.
First, we will have the awarding of appreciation plaques to those personalities who have rendered relevant contribution to the strengthening and deepening of relations between Brazil and Korea in their fields. Then, a Brazilian gourmet dinner will be served, prepared by a young and talented rising star chef. After dinner, we will have a presentation on BRICS and Brazil as emerging markets by Professor Marcos Troyjo, co-director of the BRICLab Center at Columbia University.
As the last part of the evening, we will present the Brazilian ensemble Quinteto Violado, who will play typical regional melodies, accompanied by Coreyah Ensamble and flutist Hyejin Yoon and a Brazilian dance group formed by expatriates in Korea.
Tonight’s program was organized to present a small sampling of Brazilian culture in order to strengthen the people-to-people friendship and cooperation between Brazil and Korea. This is an occasion for deepening our visions and efforts for an ever synergistic partnership between Brazil and Korea.