One month ago, the Republic of Korea presented a national gift to the Peace Palace. Congressman Lee Byung Suk, who initiated the donation project, presented the gift, a smiling ‘Haechi’, to the Carnegie Foundation. This granite sculpture has been especially created for the Peace Palace. The ‘Haechi’, a mythical animal with a righteous temperament, is a Korean symbol of justice and fairness. The Peace Palace and The Republic of Korea share a sad chapter in our modern history. Mr Cho Tae-Yul, Vice Foreign Minister of Korea and speaker at the unveiling ceremony, explained our historical bond and spoke about our common interest to further international peace and justice in the world.
By H.E. Cho Tae-yul,Vice Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea
at the Ceremony of Donating “Smiling Haechi” to the Peace Palace
Dr. Bernard Bot, President of the Carnegie Foundation,
Honorable Lee Byung-suk, Vice Speaker of the National
Honorable Peter Tomka, President of the ICJ,
Honorable Song Sang-hyun, President of the ICC,
Honorable Kwon O-gon, Judge of the ICTY,
Mr. Choi Jin-ho, Korean sculpture artist,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to be here with you today at this memorable event of donating a piece of Korean artwork to the Peace Palace in the Hague -- the city of peace and justice . Let me first express my appreciation to those who have helped to organize this meaningful event, especially Honorable Lee Byung-suk, the staff of the Peace Palace, and the artist of this wonderful artwork, Mr. Choi Jin-ho.
Haechi is a mythological animal that can be compared to the Roman goddess Lady Justice. A difference, if any, would be that Lady Justice is blindfolded, whereas Haechi has big, bright eyes with which it can distinguish good and evil.
During Korea’s Choseon dynasty, placing Haechi in the royal palace or judicial agencies served as a warning against the corruption of government officials and unfair
rulings, as well as a symbol of love for the people and commitment to protect their lawful rights. Although Haechi is an imaginary animal, the Korean people have loved it for a long time.
Setting up the Haechi statue here in the Hague holds historical meaning to Koreans. 107 years ago in the Hague, Korea’s martyr Lee Jun, a prosecutor and a diplomat, died here having tried at the Hague Peace Conference to let the world know about Japan’s illegal attempt to annex Korea. A British journalist William Stead, who inspired Andrew Carnegie to build the Peace Palace, is known to have helped Lee Jun and his compatriots carry out their mission.
At the time when the fate of international relations was determined by power, Korea became a colony only to later experience the agony of a divided Korean Peninsula and war. Due to these painful experiences, Korea, more than any other country in the world, appreciates the importance of international law, justice and peace.
As such, the Peace Palace shares a sad chapter in Korea’s modern history. But it is also where we affirm our commitment to protect justice and contribute to global peace so that history will not repeat itself. As one of those born into the post-war reconstruction era, a law student, and a diplomat representing the government of the Republic of Korea, I am truly moved with emotion, standing here today to donate the Haechi statue that is an embodiment of our commitment to peace and justice.
Mother Teresa once said, “It is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” By donating Haechi to the Peace Palace, we Koreans are sharing love with the people of the rest of the world.
Together with the statues of William Stead and Andrew Carnegie here at this Palace, I hope that the Haechi statue will remain forever as a symbol of justice contributing to the enhancement of the prestige of the Peace Palace.