Address by President Nelson Mandela at the State banquet hosted by President Kim Young Sam of Korea

7 July 1995

Your Excellency, Mr President and Mrs Kim Young Sam;
Your Excellency, Mr Speaker;
Honourable Prime Minister;
Mr Chief Justice
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, we complete our second day of a historic visit to the Republic of South Korea.

That sense of history derives from the potential that our engagement in these two days has tapped - an emerging partnership between two nations with many common attributes. It derives from the consolidation of what is bound to be a positive trend of the new millennium - greater co-operation between Southern Africa and Asia. It issues, above all, from the confidence we have in one another, expressed in our discussions with your government, in the agreements we have signed and in the warmth among South Koreans towards our country.

To us, South Africans, it is a moving experience to be in a country with an outstanding five thousand-year civilisation and a rich cultural heritage. As South Africa undergoes her rebirth, we are confident that there is much that we can learn from one another.

Mr President, the people of Korea, like the rest of humanity, followed with keen interest the birth of our democracy. This you did, not as observers from the sidelines, but as participants who saw our suffering as your own, and our achievements as those of humanity as a whole.

We have thus come to report that the new South Africa is firmly established on the foundation of democracy, human rights and socio-economic progress.

It has become a full member of the African community, in the quest for peace and a better life on the continent as a whole.

Your country, Mr President, has performed an economic miracle. Within a historically short period, the Republic of Korea elevated herself to become one of the leading economic powers in the world.

Your outstanding economic and technological achievements in this region are a source of inspiration to our country and continent.

This afternoon we met a number of Korea's business associations. We are impressed by your efforts to revolutionise your economy and improve your industries while opening up your markets to trade. Your strategies of innovation, competitiveness, and high quality are precisely what our country is grappling with.

We are therefore inspired by the enthusiasm shown by Korean business to expand investments in our country. This will lay the basis for your greater involvement in the Southern African region.

Mr President, South Africa is also closely following developments on the Korean Peninsula. We are fully behind all the attempts to resolve regional problems by peaceful means. Be assured, Your Excellency, that our country will always be ready to contribute whatever we can in this regard.

We also wish to take this opportunity to express our condolences to the government and people of the Republic of Korea, and more particularly, to the families of the victims of the disaster at the Sampoong Department Store.

Tomorrow, Mr President, we return to our country, we do so reinforced in the knowledge that the relationship between our two countries has been further strengthened. As such, the cause of democracy, human rights and economic development world-wide has been reinforced.

We thank you for a splendid evening.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation