Korea and Luxembourg foreign ministers hold breakfast meeting

Amb. Jacques Flies of Luxembourg hosted a reception for the opening of its Embassy in Seoul

By Diplomacy Journal Lee Kap-soo


Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul held a breakfast meeting with Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Xavier Bettel on July 3 and exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional and international affairs.


Bettel was visiting Korea on the occasion of the opening of the Embassy of Luxembourg in Seoul. The Korean government is currently preparing to open an embassy in Luxembourg as well.



Minister Cho said that Korea and Luxembourg, a fellow Korean War participant and value-sharing country, have developed cooperation in various fields over the past 60 years, and he looks forward to further strengthening bilateral exchanges and cooperation through the mutual opening of resident missions.


Noting that Luxembourg is the country with the largest military contingent in the Korean War in terms of population, Bettel said it would be good news for veterans and their families to have President Yoon and Minister Cho visit Luxembourg.


Bettel also said that Luxembourg has always attached great importance to cooperation with South Korea, a major economy and advanced country in science and technology, and hopes to encourage Korean companies to expand their presence and investments in Luxembourg. He also expressed his desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including defense and medical technology. 


The two ministers also discussed recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including military cooperation between Russia and North Korea.



Cho said that the recent military cooperation between Russia and North Korea threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in Europe and around the world, and asked for Luxembourg's continued cooperation. Mr. Bettel expressed his support for the Korean government's policies and efforts to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.


They also agreed to continue close communication and cooperation on major international issues such as Northeast Asia and the Middle East.


Prior to the meeting, the two ministers signed the Korea-Luxembourg Working Holiday Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, about 100 young adults aged 18 to 35 from both countries will be able to experience local culture and lifestyle through a combination of short-term employment and language study.


On July 2, Amb. Jacques Flies of Luxembourg hosted a reception to celebrate the opening of the resident Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and mark the country's National Day at Shilla Hotel in Seoul.  

More than 100 foreign diplomats and representatives of government, business and cultural circles from Korea attended the gala event.


The following is the full-text of welcoming remarks by Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Xavier Bettel at the reception.


Mr. Vice-Minister,


Dear Luxembourgers and friends of Luxembourg,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Let me first welcome you all tonight at this reception to celebrate the opening of the first resident Embassy of Luxembourg in Seoul.


I also want to extend my gratitude to His Excellency Mr. CHO Koo-rae, Vice-Minister for Strategy and Intelligence, for being with us tonight and representing the Government of the Republic of Korea.


It is a pleasure and an honor to be with you tonight at this momentous occasion when we start writing a new chapter in the relationship between the Republic of Korea and Luxembourg.


We are of course not starting from scratch and I want to specifically greet tonight our current Consul Honorary in Busan, Mr. Suk-Pyo Hong and our previous Consul Honorary, Mr. Young-Chul Hong. The relationship between their family and Luxembourg started in 1979, when their late father and grandfather, Mr. Jong-Ryol Hong, became the first Honorary Consul of Luxembourg in Korea. The Luxembourg Government is immensely thankful to the Hong family for their continued engagement during all these years and I am excited to continue working closely together in the future.


The opening of the Embassy of Luxembourg in Korea and, later this year the opening of the Embassy of Korea in Luxembourg is a striking symbol of the ever-deepening relationship between our two countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962.  


As you may know, the relationship between our two countries is strongly rooted in the participation of 85 young Luxembourgish Volunteers in the Korean War, supporting the Korean people in their fight for freedom and democracy.


Earlier this afternoon, I had the privilege to officially open a temporary exhibition at the War Memorial of Korea, which shines light on the lives of these 85 young men, who left their homeland to literally travel around the world to devote their youth to the freedom of the Republic of Korea.


The Luxembourgish contingent was the smallest among the 22 countries participating in this mission under UN flag, about one platoon. But in the 1950s, Luxembourg had a population of about 200,000 people. Considering that the total number of troops in the military is about 1,000, it was the largest number of troops per population among the participating countries.


As my country stood with Korea in the early 1950s, we stand today with Ukraine fighting Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war of aggression. Russia’s rogue behavior reminds us that peace and democracy, as well as the very essence of the rules-based international order grounded in the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, are not granted. This is even more striking today here in Seoul where we see how Russia’s reckless behavior is also threatening peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.   


Mr. Vice-Minister,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This embassy is an illustration of the strong bonds that Korea and Luxembourg have cultivated over the years. It will serve as a hub for diplomatic engagement, economic cooperation and cultural exchange.


The opening of the Embassy should also further boost the economic aspect of our bilateral relationship.


The economic relationship between Korea and Luxembourg has developed strongly over the last decades in fields as various as manufacturing, finance, air cargo, space and satellites, ICT, health, and environmental sustainability, to only name a few. I want to express my appreciation to the dedicated efforts of the various economic stakeholders from both countries, from startups to large corporations, who have taken the lead in these endeavors.


Korean companies have found a welcoming environment in Luxembourg, and we are proud to host a number of Korean enterprises that contribute to our dynamic economy. Similarly, Luxembourgish businesses are making their mark in Korea, exploring new opportunities and contributing to the Korean economy. The Embassy’s Trade and Investment Office and its dynamic team stand ready to provide advice and assistance to all of those who want to explore opportunities in Luxembourg and Europe, Luxembourg being a great gateway into the European Union, a market of 450 million people.


Cultural exchange, cooperation in the field of education and research and people-to-people exchanges are other vital pillars of our relationship. The arts, education, and tourism sectors provide rich avenues for our peoples to connect, understand, and appreciate each other's unique heritages. The opening of this embassy will undoubtedly enhance these cultural connections, fostering greater awareness and appreciation between our citizens.


Looking forward and taking stock of the growing interest in Korean culture among young people in Luxembourg as well as of the desire of young Koreans to visit Europe, I am pleased that we are going to sign later this week a Work and Holiday Program with the Republic of Korea. It will allow young people from both countries to live in the other country for up to one year, giving them insights into the daily life and culture of the country, thus fostering mutual understanding and enduring friendships.


Ladies and gentlemen,

A little more than a week ago, on 23 June, we celebrated the National Day of Luxembourg. I am very happy to be able to do so today here in Seoul and I want to raise my glass, together with you, to the health and well-being of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxembourg as well as to the Republic of Korea and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.


The historic opening of our Embassy represents a renewed commitment to our shared values and aspirations, a promise of continued partnership, an invitation for deeper engagement, and a celebration of the enduring friendship between our Nations.


Thank you very much.