Annual General Meeting, 24 March 2015

Written by: Ian Simm  |  Posted on: April 9th, 2015

AGM_2015 (a)

Jim Thomson gives the Outreach report

The AGM, kindly hosted as so often before by the Korean Cultural Centre, was attended by 43 members.   A number of others, notably our Joint Presidents ROK Ambassador HE Sungnam Lim and Dr Robert Hawley, sent their apologies.

In his opening address, BKS Chairman Warwick Morris welcomed Korean Embassy representatives Minister Kim Chang-mo and Second Secretary Won Hwang (who is relatively newly arrived in the UK) and thanked the Embassy and the Korean Cultural Centre (under its Director Kim Kab-soo) for their continuing support of the society.  He noted that this was the first AGM of the newly renamed British-Korean society and drew attention to the much improved website demonstrating the new BKS logo.   We also, under the management of Elizabeth Ryan, have a Facebook group which has attracted over 500 members.  He hoped that members would use social media to communicate their ideas of how the society could develop, especially since our 60th anniversary falls in 2016.

Warwick noted that, while most of the existing committee members were willing to continue, Jim Thomson and Martyn Allen would be standing down.  He thanked these two in particular for their work over recent years.   In addition, Stephen Brown wished to scale back his involvement, though he would continue to support the Chairman, and vice-Chairman Derek Marsh, in seeking new sources of sponsorship.  Three new committee members, Mark Baumfield, Hannah Giles and Juyeong Yoon, were welcomed.

As usual, the year had seen a good range of events.  Notable were the Chuseok reception kindly hosted by Ambassador Lim and a new departure was to hold a drinks reception at the House of Lords in place of the usual dinner.   This was regarded as a successful experiment, allowing more opportunity for members and guests to network.   Again kindly hosted by Baroness Perry, the event also afforded an opportunity to bid farewell to Sir John Stanley, outgoing Chair of the Parliamentary All-Party RIK-UK Group.   One of our corporate members, Laura Devine Solicitors, kindly hosted a summer party in the City; the Chairman invited other corporate to take note!

Other notable events of the year included the award of a MBE to our Events Secretary Sylvia Park and the unveiling of the Korean War Memorial (to which BKS made a donation) on the Embankment in December 2014.   The BKVA has now formally wound up, though some branches will continue to operate. Several former BKVA members attended the AGM. Chairmans Report 2015.

Treasurer Chris Hollands reported that the Society was in good financial shape, despite a fall in income since last year (which was exceptional).   Echoing some of Warwick Morris’ remarks, Chris noted that sponsorship was down from last year (although Samsung Electronics have confirmed they will continue to support the society) and we would be seeking other sources of funding which would primarily support our expanded outreach programme.   The website development constituted a major expense for the year, though it represented excellent value for money.

Peter Poole reported that 4 new members recruited at the AGM brought the total membership (including corporate members) to 198, a similar number to recent years.   Some members, however, still have not paid their subscriptions even 3 months into the year.  Peter asked members to communicate their ideas on how we might effectively recruit new members.

Jim Thomson, who has been instrumental in developing this work over the past few years, gave his report on the Outreach programme of bursaries and small grants.  BKS had awarded 4 bursaries, each of £1000, to assist students in research programmes of relevance to UK-Korea relations.   The grants programme generally supports about 50% of those who apply, and of these a good proportion become BKS members.  Jim believes that the outreach programme contributes to broadening the membership profile, making it younger and more diverse.

Events Secretary Sylvia Park introduced the society’s programme for the coming year, including the London Walk with Blue Badge Guide Sue King, a Chuseok reception and, in October, the second drinks reception at the House of Lords.  The BKS diners group would also meet to share a Korean meal. British Ambassador to ROK Charles Hay would talk to the society in July, possibly together with his counterpart based in Pyongyang.   The society is always on the lookout for new ideas for events, and the idea of an introduction to the game of baduk is under consideration.  A suggestion was made for a guided tour of New Malden, which might take place in conjunction with the ‘Kingston Welcomes Korea’ festival which will take place from late July this year.  This might also be a platform for recruiting new BKS members.

Following the formal AGM business, two bursary recipients, Youngeun Koo and Yejin Kim, gave brief presentations on their work and how the bursary funding had helped them.

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