Wellington partners Seoul

19 July 2016

The capitals of New Zealand and the Republic of Korea have been brought closer together with the signing of a ‘Friendly City’ partnership.

Signing ceremony.
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Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and the Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon signed the agreement at a ceremony at the Seoul City Hall overnight.

Building upon the warm relations between Wellington and Seoul, the agreement seeks to develop and promote a wide range of economic, cultural, tourism, educational, creative industries and technology.

“The signing of this Friendly City agreement connects Wellington and Seoul on a city level, building on the strong relationship between our countries,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“This Friendly City agreement will provide local Wellington businesses with greater access to Korean markets and networks and further promote Wellington as an attractive education, film and tourism destination to Korea.

“It will also increase the sharing of information on common urban issues and new technology and establish Seoul as a strategic cultural and economic partner, and increase film co-productions, technology-sector and cultural exchanges.

“There is potential for a partnership between Wellington’s Collider Tech Hub and the Seoul Centre for Creative Economy and Innovation. I was impressed by Mayor Park’s commitment to a human-centred transport paradigm,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

Cr Jo Coughlan, who chairs the Economic Growth and Arts committee, says the agreement will enhance business opportunities with the Asian economic powerhouse, particularly in the film and television sector.

“Seoul and Wellington share an amazing strength in the entertainment sector,” says Cr Coughlan. “Ninety-five percent of all South Korean film, music and TV productions are produced in Seoul and of course Wellington has produced some of the world’s greatest blockbusters, so it’s an ideal match.”

While visiting Seoul, Mayor Wade-Brown attended a lunch hosted by New Zealand Ambassador Clare Fernley which brought together Korean-based New Zealanders working in the film industry and Korean people working with New Zealand film productions.

The delegation included The Orator producer Catherine Fitzgerald from Blueskin Films, who chairs the New Zealand Film Festival, and entertainment lawyer Michael Stephens who plays an active role in promoting the Wellington Korean Festival and fostering film business links between New Zealand and Korea.

The two capital city mayors discussed cooperation on biodiversity and citizen participation.

The Friendly City agreement formalises a close relationship that has developed between the two capitals over the past decade. Although Wellington’s Korean population is relatively small, at around 1000 people, the Korean Festival is extremely popular and the Wellington Central Library is host to a Korean Corner which promotes Korean literature and culture.

Wellington hosts the biannual Korean Film Festival which showcases the co-productions that are a direct result of the 2008 New Zealand Korea Co-production Agreement for film.

Now in its second year, the Gwangmyeong City Design Competition continues to forge a collaborative, creative relationship between South Korea and New Zealand. With support from WETA Digital and Massey University, the student exchange fosters new and innovative talent in the design industries of both countries.

In October 2015 with the support from the New Zealand Embassy in Korea, Korea hosted the first month-long New Zealand Festival which involved a hangi, a traditional haka and the announcement of the winner of the aforementioned competition.

The festival was attended by Councillor Simon Marsh who signed an MOU promoting further cooperation in the design field.