Anniversary Dinner, 17 November 2016
Written by: Derek Marsh | Posted on: November 28th, 2016
On Thursday 17 November the Society held its 60th Anniversary Dinner in the House of Commons Churchill Room. The Dinner was preceded by a Reception on the Terrace Pavilion overlooking the River Thames.
Over ninety members and guests were welcomed by our Chairman Warwick Morris who referred to the Society’s reliance for its existence on volunteers, modest fees and sponsorship, especially in order to maintain its outreach activities. This year there had been two new events: a UK-Korea Business Seminar for 120 people at Mansion House in cooperation with the Lord Mayor, and a meeting of European Korean societies in Budapest which the Vice Chairman had attended. He thanked Samsung Electronics UK for their continuing support of the Society, Maersk Line UK and Ireland for their support of the Dinner, and others for supporting the Seminar.
The Chairman also read out a message of congratulations from the Korea Britain Society in Seoul, signed by KBS President Park Jin and British Ambassador Charles Hay, Hon President. He welcomed the presence of longtime KBS member Lee Choon Kyung who, as a young man in London where his father was in charge of the Korean Legation, remembered the inaugural meeting of the Anglo-Korean Society – as it was then called – in 1956.
Introducing our host, Mike Gapes MP, Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Britain-Republic of Korea Parliamentary Group, our Chairman mentioned their common background in VSO in Africa many years ago. Mr Gapes referred to recent events in the UK-Korea relationship such as the State Visit, and to Korea’s vigorous Parliamentary democracy. There was, he said, an enduring relationship between the two countries, close economic and political ties and a shared interest in maintaining and strengthening human rights and freedom which were increasingly challenged around the world.
After the Loyal Toasts, our guest speaker, The Rt Hon The Earl Howe PC, Minister of State for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, spoke warmly of his visit to Korea, including his participation in veterans’ events, last April. The Korean War and the veterans were not forgotten: he saw their memorial outside his office every day. There was a unique kinship between the UK and the Republic and the same desire for freedom; and, from this, the inspiration sixty years ago to form the Anglo-Korean Society. Referring to the two countries’ shared goals, he said he admired greatly the Republic’s achievements over the last 65 years. These days we voted the same way in the UN and had common concerns about things like climate change, cyber security, the fight against piracy and peace-keeping, frequently acting together in the international arena. There was even a shared interest in Strictly Come Dancing and Gangnam-style! Post-Brexit, HMG were more determined than ever to look outwards and to turbo-charge the relationship with the Republic. He looked forward to continuing to foster a flourishing friendship.
After Dinner, our Joint President, His Excellency Joonkook Hwang, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, spoke. Ambassador Hwang said that in Korea the 60th birthday was a very significant event and was a rite of passage that called for big parties. The Churchill Room was the ideal venue for such a celebration. Sir Winston Churchill said that a pessimist was someone who saw the difficulty in every opportunity while an optimist saw the opportunity in every difficulty. We should all look for opportunities! Over sixty years the ROK had achieved full economic and democratic development. In the UK there had been many changes but remained a very attractive country, particularly for golf and premier league football. Korea would strengthen and deepen ties. The BKS was a facilitator, and had an ongoing role to play. He hoped the next sixty years would be as successful as the last sixty.
In closing, our Chairman thanked the BKS volunteers who had organised the dinner, especially Events Secretary Sylvia Park, and Cathy Kim. Finally, there was a draw for door prizes of a Korean Air return ticket to Seoul, a fine bottle of Diageo whisky, and two Korean gifts kindly donated by the Embassy.