Professional and amateur cyclists from Kazakhstan joined the “One Korea New-Eurasia” international bicycle tour to promote North and South Korean reunification as it passed through Astana on Sept. 25.
“This event not only promotes the unification of North and South Korea but also serves as an example of how it is necessary for people all over the world to live together and be united. By this bike ride, we want to convey this idea,” said the head of the Korean delegation before the Astana ride.
The international tour began on Aug. 13 in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany and will continue for 100 days and 15,000 kilometres through Poland, three Baltic states, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China before ending in Seoul, South Korea.The Brandenburg Gate was chosen as the starting point for the expedition because it symbolises the union of East and West Germany in 1989.
The Astana leg of the ride began at the Square of State symbols. Eight riders from Kazakhstan pledged to continue through Astana to Pavlodar and then to Russia. The event was attended by Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Baek Ju-hyeon, Press Secretary of Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry Nurzhan Aitmakhanov, representatives of Astana’s city administration, members of Astana’s professional cycling team and supporters.
The tour was organised by the Chosunilbo Media Group with the support of the South Korean Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for Culture, Sports and Tourism. Chosunilbo owns Korea’s largest newspaper with a 1.77 million circulation, several magazines and has book publishing and television divisions.
This year, the media group published a series titled, “Unification is the Future”and launchedthe “Peace Bicycle Expedition,” which is part of “One Korea New-Eurasia.”
“We received more than 5,300 applications [for the tour]. The secretariats were surprised and excited by this great interest. In addition, each of the applicants had strong training and experience, which made the choice of candidates complicated. We hope that this journey with beads of sweat on the foreheads of our members will be an opportunity to share our true wishes and hopes for peace in Eurasia,” said a Chosunilbo Media representative.
“The Eurasian continent represents peace, prosperity and integration, and develops a new frontier in the 21st century. The ‘Peace Bicycle Expedition’ on the road with ‘New Eurasia’ will create the opportunity to meet new people, build interesting dialogue and exchange experiences,” the representative added.
Nurzhan Aitmakhanov of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry thanked the Korean organisers for including Kazakhstan on the tour’s route. “It is a great honour for us that Kazakhstan was included on the international bicycle tour. I see that our professional and amateur cyclists from Astana also joined the event.Today’s gathering shows us how the people of Kazakhstan support physical culture and the sports programme of Kazakhstan for 2011-2015,” he said.
The Foreign Ministry official also noted that cycling is a popular form of transportation among diplomats in Astana and that last year Minister Erlan Idrissov installed bicycle parking at the ministry.
“It is great that cycling is becoming more and more popular in our country because the bicycle is still one of the most environmentally healthy forms of transportation,” said Aitmakhanov. “Today in Astana, you can find a lot of bike parking and bikes for rent, which is very convenient for busy and active people.”
Aitmakhanov also thanked the Korean side for supporting Kazakhstan’s initiatives, including its successful bid to host the international exhibition EXPO 2017.
The Astana ride was supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the Astana city administration.