Korean Ambassador, Santhush Woonjin JEONG met the Secretary-General of Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Punchi Nilame Meegaswatte who visited the Korean Embassy on May 19, 2021. Dr. Meegaswatte explained in detail about the upcoming session of the Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is scheduled to be held from the 13th to 18th December 2021 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
They engaged in a fruitful discussion regarding diverse aspects such as education, incorporating culture into the development of both countries and promotion of multilateral partnership with UN bodies.
Dr. Meegaswatte commended the Korean government for its unwavering commitment to raise the visibility of UNESCO’s projects in the areas of culture and education, both essential for building the mutual ties of Korea and Sri Lanka. He recalled that the 12th session of the Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Seoul, Korea in 2017.
Among the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee, only five countries including the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Kazakhstan represent the Asian region. As of 2020, the Republic of Korea has 21 elements of intangible cultural heritage inscribed, which will lead to the sustainable development of the Korean society by harmonising time-honoured Korean culture with development.
The 16th session of the Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Colombo will provide an opportunity for Korea and Sri Lanka to integrate further as both countries are enriched with cultural and natural heritage.
Ambassador Santhush remarked that UNESCO plays a notable role through the organisation of educational and cultural programmes in Sri Lanka. In times of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the role that UNESCO plays to integrate society and protect our intangible cultural heritage universally is noteworthy.
Korea and Sri Lanka both share many common values and close links in tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The Ambassador further reiterated his devotion to deepen our cultural ties and hoped that it will help to enhance tourism in both countries. He also wished that the upcoming conference will be a big success in Sri Lanka.
The Ambassador also expressed his satisfaction regarding the official adoption of the Korean language as a foreign language for the advanced level classes by the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka from 2021. By 2023, students can also select Korean language as a subject for the advanced level examination.
The introduction of Korean language to advanced classes will build bridges of friendship and also empower young students with advanced Korean language. There is infinite collaboration between Korea and Sri Lanka in the fields of education, culture and tourism. He stated, “As Ambassador to Sri Lanka, I will do my best to bring our countries closer together, and elevate our bilateral relationship”.
Furthermore the public health cooperation between our countries has been robust. Under the ‘stay strong’ campaign, the Republic of Korea has stood in solidarity with Sri Lanka in this hour of need to provide tangible support to successfully combat the battle against COVID-19.
Last year, government of the Republic of Korea donated COVID-19 Test Kits amounting to the sum of USD 300,000 to contain and control COVID-19. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea donated re-usable fabric masks to Sri Lanka Army and Police who have dedicated themselves to protecting people in Sri Lanka including Korean residents amid COVID-19.
The Ambassador also invited Dr. Punchi Nilame Meegaswatte to join the ‘#Live Together Campaign’ which was launched by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with UNESCO, to raise awareness of and to end recent racism and discrimination against Asian people shown in some countries internationally during the pandemic.