Mérida, Yucatán — Love was all around in a meeting between city authorities and representative of South Korea.
And to make the point, South Korea is giving Mérida a gift: A large modern statue and symbol of peace known as Greetingman.
At the municipal palace, Interim Mayor María Fritz Sierra received Han Byung Jin, consul general of the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea in Mexico, who expressed his desire to continue the work done by the Ambassador Chun Bee Hoo, whose commission in Mexico ended in December.
Byung Jin acknowledged the support received by the city of Mérida and expressed gratitude for the city’s re-naming of a street in Altabrisa for the Republic of Korea, as South Korea is known.
The Greetingman will be erected on that same street as a sign of good will.
The Korean community in Mérida consists of more than 2,000 descendants who have made this city their home.
At the end of the work meeting, the mayor gave her guest a miniature replica of Mérida’s iconic confidentes chairs, made in stone by Dzityá artisans. Byung Jin recipricated with a set of hand-painted tea cups.
The relationship between Mérida and Korea dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when it was the first Mexican city to receive the first 1,033 immigrants who had to leave their country due to the Japanese invasion.
The aluminum statue depicts a six-meter-high/20-foot-high blue man slightly bowing. His color indicates peace and neutrality. The work is attributed to a South Korean sculptor named Yoo Young-ho.
In October 2012, a Greetingman statue was unveiled in Montevideo, Uruguay, where it has become an iconic landmark, even appearing on the first page of a tourist guide. Another was unveiled on a battleground site in South Korea, and a third statue was erected in Panama City, Panama.
“In the future, I want to work with likeminded artists to set up 1,000 Greetingmen in places like Vietnam, Palestine and Berlin, places where the scars of war remain today,” Yoo said in a Korean publication. “I hope that Greetingman will become a messenger for peace that will help us overcome our religious, cultural, ethnic, and political differences and relate to each other.”
Sources: Reporteros Hoy, Hankyoreh