United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres departed New York on Tuesday, 6 February, for Seoul, where he arrived on Wednesday afternoon for an official visit to the Republic of Korea.
On Wednesday evening, the Secretary‑General and his delegation were hosted to dinner by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung‑wha at her official residence.
On Thursday morning, the Secretary‑General went to Yonsei University in Seoul to speak at the inaugural Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development.
In his remarks, the Secretary‑General called for a new deal for fair globalization. He told the audience, which included former Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon as well as the President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, that engagement is essential if you really want to transform the Sustainable Development Goals into a blueprint that can be a basis for a new deal for fair globalization.
He underscored that globalization, together with technological progress, has led to meaningful improvements in the lives of so many people around the world. But, he added, it is also true that the combination of increased globalization and technological advancement has also dramatically increased inequality, and also left us with a number of tough problems to solve — youth unemployment being one of them.
The event was co‑hosted by the Institute for Global Engagement and Empowerment and the Ban Ki‑moon Centre for Global Citizens. With “Putting People and Planet at the Center” as its main theme, the Forum would serve as a platform for all stakeholders and actors to collaborate towards accomplishing the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While at Yonsei University, the Secretary‑General had an opportunity to meet with his predecessor, Ban Ki‑moon.
The current and former Secretaries‑General, along with the President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Lee Nak‑yon.
Before leaving Yonsei University, the Secretary‑General met with representatives of the United Nations country team based in the Republic of Korea.
On that day, the Secretary‑General also participated in taping of the popular Sebasi talk show on the CBS (Korea) television network.
Departing Seoul, the Secretary‑General and his delegation drove to the site of the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. He toured the Olympic village at Gangneung, where he was able to meet with a number of athletes, including Cheyenne Goh, the first Singaporean to ever qualify for the Olympic Winter Games. The Secretary‑General also met and encouraged competitors from Switzerland, Hungary and China.
On Thursday evening, the Secretary‑General attended the official dinner hosted by the President of the Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, for visiting dignitaries.
On Friday morning, the Secretary‑General travelled to the coast to Gangneung to attend an official lunch hosted in his honour by the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae‑in. Also attending was Foreign Minister Kang Kyung‑wha. During his toast, the Secretary‑General said this was a visit of solidarity with Korean people at a moment of great tension and opportunity. The Secretary‑General also said that the very courageous initiatives of the Government of the Republic of Korea in relation to inter‑Korean relations have the full support of the United Nations. (See Press Release SG/SM/18888.)
The Secretary‑General then met with Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary‑General congratulated IOC and the host Government for the organization of the Games. “Everything was done to make this event an extremely important event from the sports point of view but also from the very important message of peace which the games always convey,” Guterres added. He also expressed how grateful he is for the exemplary cooperation between the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations.
Prior to heading to the dinner hosted by the President of Korea for the heads of delegations, the Secretary‑General met with Han Zheng, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Special Representative of President Xi Jinping.
The Secretary‑General then travelled to the Olympic stadium to attend the opening ceremonies.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Secretary‑General returned by train to Seoul and left early Saturday morning for New York, where he arrived the same day.