Netherlands seeks sustainable future with Korea

Reading Time: 6 minutes
The KOREA Times Posted: 2021-04-19 13:41
By Kwon Mee-yoo

Special relation South Korea – the Netherlands.

I am happy that I take a tiny, little part in this Special relation South Korea – the Netherlands. I am visiting South Korea now since 2003 and it was a real adventure. So, almost one-third of the 60 years I helped the Baedagol the park and the Goyang Koi farm to be known in Europe. I hope I succeeded and that there are many adventures to come. In this post, you can read what Joanne Doornewaard, ambassador of the Netherlands to South Korea has to say about this special relation between South Korea and the Netherlands. The interview was made with The Korea Times at the Dutch Embassy in central Seoul. Hugo J. Smal. Special relation South Korea!
The year 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Netherlands and Korea.
Joanne Doornewaard,
Joanne Doornewaard photo by Choi Won-suk
“Sixty years is something that’s really meaningful in Korea, though I must admit that in the Netherlands, we do 50, 75 and 100. So we had to explain the difference to Hague,” Joanne Doornewaard, ambassador of the Netherlands to Korea, said in an April 15 interview with The Korea Times at the embassy.

“It’s looking back, but we also want to look forward. So it’s about our past, what we have achieved together ― the Netherlands was one of the Sending States to the Korean War and then we established diplomatic relations in 1961. Over time, the relationship grew and now we are very important trading partners and with youth involvement, both our countries are much interested in innovations and new technology. We cooperate for the future, so that’s our slogan.”

Special relation South Korea – the Netherlands means Co-create tomorrow.

Under the theme “Co-create tomorrow,” the Netherlands and Korea laid out a series of events to strengthen ties between the two countries with various joint activities, exhibitions and events both on- and off-line.
The yearlong festivities kicked off April 5, the day after the Netherlands and Korea established diplomatic ties 60 years ago, at Everland, a theme park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, known for its annual tulip festival.
Tulips are is one of the Netherlands’ major products, exporting about 3 billion each year, and April is the month of the tulip, so the decision came naturally.

“Because of COVID-19, we would otherwise have done it with big parties. We thought let’s do it in another way but still show people an impression of the Netherlands,” Doornewaard said. “With fresh tulips, that was a nice event to kick it off. More events are coming up as we celebrate the whole year.”

The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics and Groninger Museum lent their collection to the National Museum of Korea’s “600 Years of East-West Exchange through Ceramics” exhibit through November 2022 and Dutch artist Femke Herregraven is taking part in the main exhibition of the 13th Gwangju Biennale from April 1 to May 9.

The Netherlands is the guest country of the 38th Busan International Short Film Festival. It took place in April. The Best Dutch Book Design 2019 exhibition is scheduled from June to August. In October, Dutch musicians will be featured at the 18th Jarasum Jazz Festival and the Seoul concert of the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is slated for November.

Joanne Doornewaard, ambassador of the Netherlands to South Korea, speaks during an interview with The Korea Times at the Dutch Embassy in central Seoul, April 15. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
Joanne Doornewaard, ambassador of the Netherlands to Korea, hands out a tulip in a pot to visitors in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries during a tulip festival at the amusement park Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, April 5. Courtesy of Dutch Embassy in Korea.

Past, present and future.

Dutch and Korean people have a long history. It was a Dutch sailor who first introduced Korea to Europe. “Here in Korea, the Dutch are known for Mr Weltevree and Mr Hamel, who came here in the 17th century. The Dutch at that time went all over the world with ships and some of them washed up on shore here. Mr Weltevree stayed here and not much is known about his stay as he served the king here. But Mr Hamel lived here for 12 years and he went back to the Netherlands, then wrote down his experiences in Korea. That was the first publication about Korea in Europe,” Doornewaard said.

[:en]Mantifang: always in full bloom[:]
Start your adventure at our Mantifang: the Korean hub

The two countries’ relations were highlighted once again during the 1950-53 Korean War. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War and Doornewaard attended a ceremony commemorating the occasion and received a plaque from President Moon Jae-in on behalf of the 22 U.N. Sending States.
“During the Korean War, we stepped in and sent our soldiers to help South Korea. The commemoration event was huge and very impressive with President’s Moon honouring the veterans. I felt very honoured. I did not fight in that war, but to be there to represent the Netherlands and the veterans in the Netherlands was so special,” she said.

“Korea is organizing revisit program of veterans and it is very meaningful for them. There was a program when I just arrived here and I spoke to them. They are very elderly and vulnerable people, usually assisted by their son or grandson. But they told me that it’s so special to be here to see Seoul and Korea free and prosperous and the idea that they contributed to that.”

Now the two countries are important trading partners. International trade is very important for the Netherlands and Korea, as both are exporting countries.

“For us, Korea is one of the main export markets in Asia and we also import some important items from Korea such as electric vehicles and batteries. As of 2030, there will be no fossil fuel cars sold, so there is a huge market for electric cars and there is a waiting list for Korean electric cars. The Netherlands is seen as a gateway to Europe so Korean companies invest in the Netherlands as a way to enter Europe,” the ambassador said.

“The other way round, we provide Korea with our semiconductor manufacturing machines and chips for the automotive industry. ASML and NXP are the big companies here.”

Joanne Doornewaard, ambassador of the Netherlands to South Korea, speaks during an interview with The Korea Times at the Dutch Embassy in central Seoul, April 15. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
Bicycles line a bridge over the canals of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. Bicycle is a major form of transportation in the Netherlands. gettyimagesbank

Riding bikes together deepens Special relation South Korea – the Netherlands.

Fighting climate change is an important issue in the Netherlands, a country with one-third of its land below sea level.

“Climate change is resulting in rising sea levels. We have dykes that protect us against the sea, but we cannot continue to build those dykes higher and higher. So we have to fight climate change. We cannot do it alone and that’s why it’s so important for international cooperation to fight together,” Doornewaard said. “Our population is requesting products that are sustainable. So companies have to invest in renewables and green energy because customers want that.”

The ambassador said the country’s long-standing bike culture contributes to the fight against climate change. “We love bike riding and it was important even before the climate change. Now it comes positive as a sustainable transport so we facilitate people to ride bikes. My ministry has hardly any parking place for cars but a huge parking place for bikes. It helps to be energy efficient,” she said.

Cycle paths in the Netherlands
Cycle paths in the Netherlands.

“Something we would like to promote here is bike lanes, which could help people to take a decision to ride a bike instead of a car. Being here for almost two years, I can see the increase in the use of bikes, but I can also see dangerous situations going through the traffic. In the Netherlands, we have bike lanes that cars cannot intrude in and if you have a safe bike lane, that could help more people to switch to sustainable transport.”

She also mentioned the Netherlands’ efforts in producing clean energy such as wind farms in the North Sea, Smart City plans to make old city centres more efficient and designing new neighbourhoods in a more sustainable way.

Doornewaard emphasized the involvement of the young generation in the green economy.

“We could work together in transition to a green economy. It involves innovation and new technologies such as hydrogen. Focus on technologies that are important for tomorrow. Don’t invest in a coal-fired power plant. That’s yesterday’s technology. Korea is an amazing country that has shown it is capable of making very big changes in a very short period of time. A lot is possible here and I hope we can work together in the way to build a more sustainable future,” the ambassador said.

Start your adventure at our Mantifang: the Korean hub
Start your adventure at our:
Mantifang: the Korean hub