In a first for Greece’s top diplomat here in the past five years, Greek Ambassador to South Korea Sourvanos Dionysios underscored commercial and political ties between his country and South Korea during a reception celebrating Greek Independence Day in Seoul on Wednesday.
The reception was the first of its kind for the Greek Embassy since 2009, when the previous Greek ambassador, Petros Avierinos, was posted here.
“After 400 years of occupation, the Greek people rose against the Ottoman rule, in order to fight for their freedom and they succeeded, through an arduous and lengthy struggle that claimed the lives of thousands of people,” he said.
Greece declared its independence in 1821, precipitating more than 10 years of fighting. Greece was recognized as an independent nation by the Ottoman Empire in July 1832.
Greece sent some 5,000 soldiers with the United Nations Command during the Korean War, one of 16 nations to send fighting forces and the fifth-largest contributor.
Some 192 Greek soldiers were killed in the war.
“They lost their lives in an unknown land while more than 600 were wounded in action, in order to protect the freedom of people they had never met and guarantee their right to live in a democratic country,” said Dionysios.
More recently, South Korea and Greece have become strong commercial partners.
The ambassador said that the first-ever customer of Hyundai Heavy Industries was the Greek shipping magnate George S. Livanos. In 1971, Livanos placed an order with Hyundai, before its shipyard was even built. This order made it possible for Chung Ju-young, founder of Hyundai Group, to attract further investment and build his business into the global conglomerate it is today.