Citing the Preamble to UNESCO’s Constitution, President Park Geun-hye affirmed the Republic of Korea’s strong support for UNESCO’s work to enhance peace through education and culture and praised the country’s “mutually beneficial” partnership with the Organization, during a meeting with the Director-General in Paris on 3 November 2013.
Recalling her three visits to the Republic of Korea, the Director-General stated that “we share the same values, we work towards the same agenda and Korea knows the price of peace that is deeply enshrined in our Constitution, as you just stated.”
Noting that they belong to the same generation, Ms Bokova affirmed that “we have a joint responsibility to address the world’s biggest challenge – to advance peace and sustainable development,” affirming the need for education, the sciences and culture to build more sustainable and inclusive societies.
Proposing to host a global conference in 2015 to take stock of progress on Education for All and set the agenda beyond, President Park Geun-hye noted that “the Republic of Korea is a testament to the importance of education. The country’s focused investment on education has nourished our economic development.”
She also expressed her country’s interest in “being more involved in sharing experiences with the rest of the world to support the development of education” and stated that Korea was giving positive consideration to joining the Global Education First Initiative as a champion country.
Ms Bokova drew attention to the valuable support from the Republic of Korea for activities at country level, in particular technical and vocational education and skills in Africa. “This is an expression of solidarity – Korea has advanced through education and is now sharing its experience and expertise with others,” she said.
From the protection of cultural heritage in developing countries to an interest in playing a more active role in defining international norms for the return of cultural property, the President outlined several areas of cooperation. These include support for the establishment of a Cultural Centre in Bamiyan to protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage and the contribution to World Heritage trust funds managed by UNESCO. She also drew attention to the country’s involvement in UNESCO’s activities to preserve the murals of the Koguryo Tombs in the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, citing this as an effort to “preserve and protect the cultural heritage of South and North Korea” and to “restore homogeneity.”
The Director-General praised Korea’s contribution to safeguarding world cultural and intangible heritage and “its vision that reconciles heritage and modernity, promotes cultural industries and integrates them into the economy.” She reiterated that culture is an enabler that fosters social inclusion, drives economic growth and stirs creativity, suggesting that the Republic of Korea could assist UNESCO in its advocacy for the recognition of the role of culture in the post-2015 development agenda.
President Park affirmed that culture and development was a key tenet of her administration.
“I stand with you to place culture at the center of the development agenda and hope we can reach results in this endeavour,”she concluded.