My visit to Europe is finally complete. The journey has been very demanding physically.
However, as packed as the itinerary has been, much has been accomplished and I feel it has been very rewarding. Once again, I extend my gratitude to His Majesty King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Sánchez for inviting the Republic of Korea to be Spain’s first state guest since the outbreak of COVID-19 and taking time out for me on many scheduled events.
There are many fountains in Madrid, the heart of Spain. The fountains look refreshing and, at the same time, represent vibrant beauty. They seem to embody the dynamism of Madrid. Barcelona looks quite a lot like Busan in that it is a seaside city with a port stacked with cargo containers and a sandy beach like Haeundae.
When we think of Spain, the Camino de Santiago, the fine arts and architecture, passion and soccer come to mind. Marathoner Hwang Young-cho, the Hero of Montjuïc, also enters our thoughts. However, Spain is an eco-friendly energy technology powerhouse with new and renewable energy accounting for 40 percent of its energy mix, and it ranks second in the world in terms of construction orders received. Our two countries are cooperating with each other in the construction of solar and wind power plants, and Spain is also the biggest partner in the overseas infrastructure construction market.
Spain changed the history of the world by opening the Age of Exploration. Now, the country is venturing out into the world as it did at that time. The Republic of Korea also seeks to become a bridging country to connect the continent with oceans and advanced nations with developing ones. Above all, our two countries have similar historical experiences: overcoming a civil war and authoritarian era, approaching the ranks of the world’s top 10 economies and achieving democratization.
When considering both population and economic size, it is the country most similar to Korea. Our two countries have a strong desire to cooperate and develop together. We have become each other’s needed strategic partner.
Upon completing all of the scheduled events, I am now returning to Seoul. We affirmed the Republic of Korea’s international status at the G7 Summit. From Vienna, we return with a sense of pride in culture and the arts, and from Spain the determination and passion to usher in a new era. Talks with pharmaceutical companies about vaccine-related cooperation were also part of this trip.
Whenever on an overseas trip, I gain strength from members of the local Korean communities. This time again, they came to cheer on me and my delegation wherever we went: Cornwall, a remote English county; Vienna, Austria; and Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. I send special thanks to them.