Envoys Work Together on Embassy Row

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Envoys Work Together on Embassy Row

It could be said that every city in the world has a district, road, perhaps "row," where ten or 20 embassies are clustered together.

The intimate neighborhoods they form in Seoul's urban sprawl have a unique character of their own. It is not implausible that one could run into the Indian Embassy's counselor having lunch at the Indian restaurant Chakraa or an Egyptian diplomat grabbing something quick at Paris Croissant.

On a street named Taesagwangil, Embassy Row in Korean, Korea's foreign diplomatic corps is like a close-knit, extended family.

Embassy Row is the name of the street in Hannam-dong on which _ from Oak Village to the U.N. Village and beyond Soonchunhyang University Hospital _ fourteen foreign missions and numerous diplomatic installations are situated alongside foreign clinics and schools.

Diplomats say they particularly frequent three restaurants, most. They named the local Paris Croissant, and restaurants Chakraa and Puffin Cafe as the places from which they like to grab a bite on the run, call for delivery, or go to for a nice sit-down meal.

"Some staff from Malaysia, the U.N. Village and Indian Embassies come in all the time," Manikandan, manager of Chakraa said. "We also deliver and do the catering for luncheons, half of our patrons are from the foreign and diplomatic community."

The manager, who in the five years since he started his business has already opened franchises all over the city, says his restaurant is frequented by ambassadors and their staff. Languages in addition to English and Korean can be heard during the crowded lunch rush, testament to a cosmopolitan taste in this increasing international city.

The foreign missions on Embassy Row in Hannam-dong are of countries that span diverse regions such as Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Hannam-dong's Embassy Row also has foreign missions from an array of countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Italy, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

"This row represents embassies from all continents, so it helps diplomats like us doing their job efficiently," Hatem Yousri, third secretary of the Egyptian Embassy said. Africa, America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are present through their embassies on Embassy Row Yousri pointed out.

The diplomat further said that receptions on Embassy Row, particularly in the evening, are the right place for him to make diplomatic and non-diplomatic friends, which usually leads to strong relations among embassies.

This road is not for just embassies because many foreign communities also have meetings there. For expatriates, it is more convenient to have such gatherings with embassies for many reasons.

For example, the Indian Women's Club dubbed "Annapurna" has a regular meeting in the basement of the Indian Embassy twice a week. They learn yoga and traditional Indian dance as well as have class on traditional Korean things such as kimchi.

On Hannam-dong's Embassy Row it is not difficult to see policemen guarding all the embassies. They forbid strangers to enter foreign missions or take pictures of them for security reason.

For new visitors, the best way to locate any embassy on the road is to find a national flag flying above the building.


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