SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, April 4, 2019 — The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it will donate a total of 1,079 books to the city of Mosul, Iraq, in a bid to support a campaign to build a library in a major city located some 400 km north of Baghdad. The entire city of Mosul was destroyed by Islamic State (IS), or Islamic extremist militant group.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon had a book donation ceremony at his office at 11:20 on April 4 and delivered the books donation form to Iraqi Ambassador to Korea Hayder Shiya ALBARRAK. When having a meeting with Mayor Park on August 3 last year, Ambassador ALBARRAK mentioned the campaign and requested the Seoul Metropolitan Government to donate books and brochures.
The Iraqi city of Mosul, which had been captured by IS for three years, was liberated on July 9, 2017, nine months after the Iraqi government forces launched the operation of retaking Mosul. The city of Mosul serves as a transportation hub linking Baghdad, the Capital of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and it is called the economic capital since it is located near the oil field.
IS, formed in 2003, occupied Mosul in June 2014 all of a sudden, and used it as their largest central city. It is reported that for the three-year occupation they slaughtered women and children, seized the civilians’ assets, and smuggled ancient relics. As a result, the population of Mosul had been greatly decreased and the city’s historic sites and urban infrastructure had been destroyed. Mosul used to be a big city with a population of more than 2 million.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it has decided to donate 1,079 books to represent their liberation day of July 9, 2017. Also, the Korean pronunciation of “79” is “Chilgu,” which sounds similar to “Chingu” that means “Friends.” In this context, this book donation is expected to become an opportunity to strengthen the friendly relationship between the two cities. The donated books include 441 books from the Seoul Metropolitan Library; 576 books published by departments of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and its affiliated organizations; and 62 books purchased separately.
South Korea and Iraq established diplomatic relations on July 9, 1989, and this year marks the 30th anniversary. Since then, the two countries have had ups and downs – the Korean Embassy in Iraq was temporarily closed in 1991 and the Iraqi Embassy in Seoul also temporarily closed in 1994. The Korean Embassy in Iraq reopened in 2003 and the Iraqi Embassy in Korea did in 2006.