|Anna Komorowska, left, first lady of Poland, receives an honorary Korean name from Synn Il-hi, president of Keimyung University and former honorary consul of Poland, during a dinner party at the school's Unje Hall in Daegu, Oct. 26. / Courtesy of Keimyung University|
By Ryu Chang-gi
The piano competition held last Friday at a local university based in the southeastern city of Daegu generated a media frenzy due to the Polish first lady's rare visit to the university.
Speaking to the 2nd Asia Pacific International Chopin Piano Competition at Keimyung University, Anna Komorowska said the musical contest played a key role in upgrading Korea-Poland ties.
"Chopin has found a second home in Korea," the Polish first lady said.
After arriving at the university in the afternoon, Komorowska had a campus tour, planted a tree in front of the statue of Chopin, gave a speech to the competitors and participated in a dinner with key figures of the university.
Synn Il-hi, president of the university and also a former honorary consul for Poland, and 10 others received awards in recognition of their role in promoting bilateral relations.
Approximately 2,000 people, including distinguished guests, Polish Ambassador to Korea Krzystof Majka, and students of the Academy Music Keimyung-Fryderyk Chopin, gathered at the Keimyung Art Center for the competition as well as a commemoration ceremony.
More than 100 competitors from 18 countries, including Poland, China, the United States, Russia and Japan, participated in the contest.
Winners of the competition include Knoll Carmen Jessica from United States and Tsou Ming-hsuan from Singapore.
"Chopin was a great composer and pianist. He was also a genius poet of the piano," said Synn. "I hope this event can serve as a venue for cultural exchanges for young music talents."
Synn is the first Asian who earned an honorary doctorate from the Pryderyk Chopin University of Music.
During a speech to the competition, Ambassador Maika said, "Poland and Korea, although geographically distant, are continually getting closer thanks to the growing mutual interest arising from the cultural richness."
"Both countries have many similarities of historical fortunes. Fryderyk Chopin is an excellent example of the affinity bridging two classic cultures."
The university has strong bond of ties with Poland.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland, visited Keimyung University in 2002. This was rare, given foreign leaders find it difficult to spare their time to visit a university far away from Seoul during their stay in this country.
Keimyung University forged partnerships with Fryderyk Chopin University of Music to share the specialized education music school Academy Music Keimyung-Fryderyk Chopin in 1999.