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Acceptance remarks at the Seoul Honorary Citizenship Award Ceremony

Acceptance remarks at the Seoul Honorary Citizenship Award Ceremony © Office of the President


Your Excellency, Mayor of Seoul and e-resident of Estonia, Won Soon Park

Distinguished Guests


Ladies and Gentlemen

Anyoeng haseyo [an-jon ha-sejo]. And a Happy Hangul Day!

Thank you for the warm welcome. It is wonderful to be back in Seoul and a great honour to become an Honorary Citizen of Seoul.

Over a hundred years ago the first collection of Korean fairy tales was published in Estonia in Estonian language. This was a few years before the Republic of Estonia was born. Fairy tales always help to better understand other cultures and nations. In the preface of this fascinating collection the translator said to Estonian readers who knew of Korea or Koreans very little, that in these stories you will see Korean's deep love for human beings, spiritual kindness, exquisite talent for poetry, fine sense of humour and most importantly – impeccable ethics.

I have noticed these characteristics have survived to this day. And this is owing to your brightness. This brightness can be noticed at every step in this magnificent and smart city. For me, this is also a sign of your resilience, as well as a clear sign of a brilliant future as a digital powerhouse. I can feel your determination and it is inspiring. Inspiring also to the world's first digital society – my home country Estonia. Small countries don't have time for small ambitions. We shouldn't be constrained by the number of square kilometres and the number of people we have. Being open and innovative, embracing new ideas and being the sand-box for them can make small countries bigger than they are. This is what I also sense in Korea and its vibrant metropolis Seoul.

We have a lot in common despite the fact that we are thousands kilometres apart. We are both future orientated. We share a digital bond. There is a lot we can learn from each other in e-Governance and from best practices of being smart cities. By joining forces and cooperating together we can advocate together the benefits of digital societies as well educating our people about cyber hygiene and the societal disruption that comes with digital revolution.

I hope that our digital bond will enforce the cooperation between our capitals and countries. As well as boost tourism, student exchange, trade and cooperation even in cinematography. The potential is big and real. I as honorary citizen of Seoul and President of Estonia, will intend to be a advocate our of current and future cooperation.

I am really touched by your gesture of friendship and indeed privileged to be an honorary citizen of this proud city.

And I really hope that this time around I have an opportunity to explore Seoul. From historic monuments to Gangnam.

Gam-sa-hap-nii-daa! (aitah)