The title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Seoul was awarded to President Reuven Rivlin today, Thursday, by Mayor Park Wen-soon at Seoul’s City Hall.
The president was received by a guard of honor playing traditional Korean music, signed the guest book. He spoke to the mayor, who told him about his visit to Israel and about the "Smart City" project, which allows him to see what is happening in the city and to be updated in real time via the city’s camera system. President Rivlin and Mayor Park made remarks at the ceremony, which included music played on traditional instruments by the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Music: a piece of Korean folk music and ‘Hava Nagila’.
"It is a great privilege to become an Honorary Citizen of this beautiful city. The State of Israel and the Republic of Korea share many things and in that long, shared list it is innovation that stands out. What our countries lack in natural resources we compensate for in human capital: in education, in entrepreneurship and in our commitment to the next generation," said the president, and thanked the mayor for the moving reception.
The president added, "when I look at Seoul, I feel at home. I learn about what is going on here and feel that I am in the heart of Tel Aviv's bustling start-up. When I look at the streets of Seoul my heart returns to Jerusalem and the way it interweaves history and modernity - past, present and future." The President concluded his speech by saying thank you in Korean, to the applause of the audience.
Mayor Park spoke about his visit to Israel and the warm relations between the two countries, and chose to quote from the Talmud, Pirke Avot 4: 1: "Who is wise? The person who learns from everyone." The mayor said that many Koreans learn from the wisdom of the Talmud and shared his belief that Israeli audacity and the willingness to challenge oneself stems from this statement. He also mentioned his desire to further strengthen ties between the cities and the countries, noting that in 2020 the Seoul Museum of History will host an exhibition on the Holocaust and World War II.
Earlier this morning, the president met Ban Ki-moon, the former UN Secretary-General. The two discussed the president's impressions of his visit to Korea as well as the challenges facing the Middle East at present.
Later today, the president will return to Israel and is scheduled to land this evening.