Amb.Adrien Theatre of the Embassy of Belgium in Korea hosted a farewell garden party at his official residence in downtown Seoul on May 10 on the occasion of his returning home after completion of his tour of duty as ambassador.
On hand at the event were 200 plus friends and welwishers who missed his departure from Korea.
Strong diplomatic ties between Korea and Belgium have existed since 1892, even before the two countries entered into a treaty of friendship in 1901. Accordingly, the first legation of Belgium was inaugurated in Korea in 1903.
Testament to this longstanding friendship is the unique Belgium Consulate building built in southern Seoul in 1905 and renovated in 1983.
The building's classical ionic columns and fireplaces have been kept intact, allowing it to serve as a tool for studying classical architecture of the 1900s as well as modern art. It is now part of the protected Korean architectural heritage as Historical Site No. 254.
With Japan annexing Korea in 1910, the majority of foreign missions were expelled. Belgium closed its diplomatic post in Seoul in 1918 but became one of the first countries to recognize Korea as a sovereign nation after Korea gained independence and established a new government in 1948.
It was not until 1970 that Belgium re-established its embassy in Korea. The most dramatic demonstration of Belgium's involvement with Korea was the participation of 3,000 volunteer soldiers during the Korea War (1950-1953) under the flag of United Nations Command.
More than 100 of these valiant Belgians sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Korea.
While in Korea. Amb.Adrien Theatre was quite active in strengthening ties between Korea and Belgium in cultural areas in particular.
Most recently, Korean dignitaries were honored to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium to Seoul as she led a 256-strong Belgian delegation on its 4th economic mission to South Korea.
While in Korea, Princess Astrid was appointed an honorary citizen of Seoul. Another high-profile event during the mission was a visit to Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea called the "Joint Security Area," or JSA.
The JSA was created in 1953 after the ceasefire and is nowadays controlled by United Nations forces.
More recently, Amb. Adrien Theatre, was presented the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara by the Eighth Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, during the 35th ADA Brigade and the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment's St. Barbara's Ball at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Jan. 20, 2017.
The decoration is reserved for individuals that have made extraordinary contributions to the artillery branch.