Monday 8 October 2007

Margrethe & Henrik in South Korea

The official part of a visit to South Korea has begun for Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik. The State Visit is to discuss ways to promote bilateral relations between South Korea and Denmark and exchange views on common issues in history, culture and education. There are various Danish business representatives accompanying the Queen in what she refers to as "economic diplomacy". The Regent Couple arrived early for their visit on Saturday, since the Queen has never been to South Korea and both are keen to see places outside their official schedule. After the three days of the official program as the guests of the President of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, which began today, there will be a couple of days spent privately at the (Gyeongju archeological site among other things. Prince Henrik visited South Korea last year.

Today the Queen was given an official welcome without Prince Henrik present, as he is ill with bronchitis. Yesterday (7 October) the Queen visited the arts and antiques district of Insadong in Seoul and a ceramics factory. Today, after an official welcome, the Queen visited the National Cemetery in Seoul and Samsung, where she was shown an electronic photo album with photos of Princess Isabella's christening. Since she told South Korean journalists before leaving Denmark that she doesn't use either a mobile phone or use a computer or the internet, we can assume she will be sticking to older photo storage techniques!

TV2 news story 'Margrethe maler, Henrik ligger syg' - the Queen was out and about after arrival but Prince Henrik was unwell and stayed in the hotel
B.T. 'Dronningen mødte Sydkoreas præsident alene' - the Queen began the official part of the visit to South Korea with the President Roh Moo-hyun, while Prince Henrik has stayed in their hotel suffering bronchitis
Berlingske Tidende 'Dronningen mødte Sydkoreas præsident alene' - while Prince Henrik is ill, Queen Margrethe has been given a spectacular welcome by the South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's official residence the Blue House in Seoul

On the Queen's artistic ceramic handiwork:
Jyllands Posten 'Margrethe imponerer med sin malerkunst'
Margrethe impresses with ability to paint
Queen Margertehe started her state visit to South Korea on Sunday with a visit to a ceramics pottery. Denmark’s Queen had an opportunity to display her talent with a brush, when on Sunday she visited a traditional Korean pottery. Queen Margrethe jumped at the chance at the beginning of her first official visit to South Korea with a visit to the Icheon Ceremics Village near the capital Seoul, where the traditional craft is still very much alive with old fashioned kilns and potters wheels.
During the visit the Queen had the opportunity to decorate two plates in a shop at the Haegang Ceramics Museum. She resolutely took off her coat, put on an apron and painted with a steady hand first a simple flower motif and then a cock on the other dish, while a large gathering of both Danish and Korean press looked on.
“I haven’t done this for a while,” said the Queen, when she started to paint, but the founder of the museum, professor of art Yoo Gwang-yeol look on and replied “But the Queen has still got magic hands.”
Fire in the kiln: The Queen took her time to look at a male potter conjure a jar from a large lump of clay and she also had a look at the open kiln where the clay-pots are fired. That is done with open fire in a traditional clay-furnace. Queen Margrethe threw a couple of logs on the fire, so that the sparks flew and the Regent had to jump to the side and brush her skirt.
Prince Henrik should also have been to the ceramics village but the Prince Consort was ill and rested at the hotel room in order to fresh for the visit in the upcoming days.
The official state visit will start on Monday, when the Regent Couple is received in Seoul by the Korean president Roh Moo-hyun. (thanks Muhler!)
DR news article 'Dronningen greb penslen og viste sit talent'
TV2 news article 'Margrethes malerkunst imponerer'
Politiken 'Dronningen viste malerkunst på keramikværksted'
Politiken 'Prins Henrik er sygemeldt' - Prince Henrik is ill
The Copenhagen Post 'Royal touch on Korean ceramics'

TV2 photo gallery of the Queen out and about and at the ceramic factory and Insa-dong (market)

DR1 NetTV update (0:38) from today on the beginning of the official visit
DR1 NetTV update (1:12) yesterday's visit by the Queen to the ceramic factory and Insa-dong
Jyllands Posten web TV (1:20) - runs better than Politiken's web TV
Politiken TV (1:18) - same as above JPwebTV
TV2 video clip (1:21)
DR1 video clip (1:43)

Queen of Denmark Arrives in Seoul

"Denmark is a small country with no coal or iron industry. Its solid human resources are the source of its competitiveness. Small and medium-sized Danish businesses boast of world-class competitiveness through innovation and brilliant ideas."
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, the "land of fairy tales," has arrived in South Korea for the first time, accompanied by her husband Prince Consort Henrik.

During her three-day official visit from Monday, the queen will meet with President Roh Moo-hyun, tour Samsung Electronics' Suwon Complex, a shipyard in Ulsan, and the Insa-dong area of the city. A Denmark-South Korean business forum will be held during the trip.

In an interview with South Korean reporters in Denmark before her departure, the queen said she was especially interested in "economic diplomacy."

"Representatives from large and small Danish companies will accompany me on the trip to South Korea," she said. "I hope my visit can open the way for more lively trade and cooperation between South Korea and Denmark."

The Danish queen has a strikingly tall figure as befits a lady of northern European. She has a deep knowledge of art and is an accomplished painter. "I'm looking forward to the visit because I'll get an opportunity to experience South Korean art and introduce young Danish artists to the country."

Denmark has a population of 5.4 million. A constitutional monarchy, it maintains its royal tradition although it is among the most advanced nations in the world in terms of democracy and press freedoms. The royal family remains popular among the Danish people because of its reputation for modesty and kindness.

"The Danish royal family is a symbol that represents the times and the Danish people. As my grandfather and father represented their own times, I represent our time, standing at the center of the Danish people's lives," the Queen said.

Although Denmark is known for its advanced design and IT industries, the lifestyle of the royal family is oriented around tradition. The Korean reporters met with the queen and prince at Fredensborg Palace on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Antique furniture dotted its halls and rooms, like a palace from a fairy tale. The queen said she uses neither the Internet nor a mobile phone.

Margrethe II acceded to the throne in 1972 at the age of 32. Before that she studied archaeology at the University of Cambridge and later she studied at the Sorbonne. She speaks fluent English, French, German and Swedish. In 1967 she married Prince Henrik, a Frenchman. They have two sons, Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim. "Denmark is my homeland now," Prince Henrik said. "I root for the Danish team during Danish-French soccer games."
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