Director-General visits the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Director-General visits the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • © UNESCO/A. Vohra

At the invitation of the Government, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, undertook his second official visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 10 to 12 September 2008.

In a meeting with the Minister of Culture Mr Kang Nung Su, the Director-General recalled that their previous discussions in 2000 had led to close collaboration between UNESCO and DPRK in the preparation of the nomination of the Complex of Koguryo Tombs to the World Heritage List. Mr Matsuura recognized the ongoing efforts of DPRK to conserve the Complex and noted with satisfaction that Phase III of UNESCO’s extrabudgetary funded Project for the Preservation of the Koguryo Tombs and Mural Paintings was already in effect.

Concerning the World Heritage nomination of the Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong, which was examined by the World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada (July 2008), the Director-General explained that in light of the ICOMOS and World Heritage Committee’s recommendations, UNESCO would shortly field an expert mission to DPRK to work closely with the concerned authorities in preparing a revised nomination file. Noting a growing interest in DPRK in intangible cultural heritage, Mr Matsuura observed that DPRK’s eventual ratification of the 2003 Convention would pave the way for a new partnership. Mr Kang extended his sincere gratitude to the Director-General for his efforts to promote excellent relations between DPRK and UNESCO and expressed confidence that the cooperative relationship between them would continue to expand and develop under his guidance and leadership.

Mr Kim Yong Jin, the Minister of Education, informed the Director-General that DPRK was finalizing its mid-term review of programmatic action in education. Mr Kim also said that tremendous efforts had been deployed in the quest for quality education and thanked Mr Matsuura for the UNESCO extrabudgetary funded project which had helped enhance the quality of education in the country. Mr Matsuura indicated his willingness to provide further assistance, using extrabudgetary resources to help improve and modernize DPRK’s education system.

The Director-General’s meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Pak Ui Chun, focused on overall bilateral cooperation. Mr Matsuura welcomed DPRK’s participation in the Organization’s various activities organized at the sub-regional, regional and international level, which reflected their growing partnership. The Director-General expressed his conviction that there was a need for strengthened cooperation among the five East Asian countries, and noted with satisfaction that the respective National Commissions now meet regularly. He also encouraged DPRK’s continued participation in the annual East Asian Children’s Performing Arts Festival (CPAF).

All aspects of bilateral cooperation, which are being promoted in line with the Strategic Framework for Cooperation between the United Nations and DPRK (2207-2009), were reviewed in a meeting with the Chairman of the National Commission, Mr Pak Gil Yon. During this meeting, the Director-General observed that the DPRK National Commission had become an important part of the East Asian Network of National Commissions. Mr Matsuura expressed his hope that this cooperation would continue. He also recalled that the National Commission had facilitated the participation of children from the DPRK in the CPAFs held in Mongolia and in China, and hoped it would do so on future occasions.

At the end of his visit the Director-General met Mr Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, to take stock of the development of the cooperation between DPRK and UNESCO since the Director-General’s first visit in 2000. Mr Matsuura summarized his preceding meetings with the three Ministers and the National Commission and noted with satisfaction the growing cooperation in the key areas of culture and education. He also welcomed the inscription in 2004 of the Complex of Koguryo Tombs as the first World Heritage site of DPRK. Mr Kim expressed his gratitude for UNESCO’s support to the country, especially in the areas of culture and education.

During his visit, the Director-General also visited the City of Kaesong, and the Anak Tomb, part of the Complex of Koguryo Tombs.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 115-2008
  • 17-09-2008
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