BKS Annual Dinner, House of Lords, 17 February 2022

Written by: Ian Simm  |  Posted on: February 26th, 2022

At the second attempt, following postponement last November as COVID numbers started to rise, the BKS Annual Dinner took place in February with just over 100 members, friends, supporters and sponsors participating. We gathered in the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace at the House of Lords, hosted by Viscount Trenchard.


The evening began with a drinks reception which allowed people to catch up after long months of little if any social contact.  The dinner proper opened with a welcome from BKS Chairman Martin Uden, who said how pleased he was that we were able at last to hold a full social event face to face after over 2 years. Viscount Trenchard also welcomed participants to the House of Lords, noting that parliament was in recess, which had unfortunately meant that no Minister was available to join the dinner or speak.


ROK Ambassador Gunn Kim

Following the meal, which allowed further conversation among guests, Martin led the loyal toasts to the Queen and the President of the Republic of Korea and we were then addressed by the Ambassador of ROK to the UK, HE Gunn Kim. The Ambassador opened by contrasting his first experience overseas, as a student in the USA, with his situation now in London. He said that his ability to communicate with his family in Korea 30 years ago was severely limited by the cost of phone calls, whereas now he can hold lengthy conversations for free! In so many ways, he said, the world has changed enormously in recent times. But the relations between the UK and the Republic of Korea remain extremely positive and close, with no significant problems and trade sharply increasing.  Ambassador Kim expressed his gratitude to the BKS for its continuing work to strengthen friendships between Britain and Korea.


Viscount Trenchard

Our host, Viscount Trenchard, in his address also remarked on the changes to the world in recent years, particularly since his first visit to Korea in 1982. Now his son is about to take up a post in Korea, continuing the family association with the ROK.   Viscount Trenchard noted the strong defence co-operation between UK and Korea with a recent visit by the Queen Elizabeth II carrier group conducting joint exercises with the Korean navy.   He also mentioned the signature of a continuity free trade agreement and a strategic agreement to support supply chain resilience. Viscount Trenchard congratulated Colin Crooks on his move from Pyongyang to Seoul as  UK Ambassador in succession to Simon Smith, and David Ellis on his appointment as Ambassador to the DPRK.


Marin Uden, in his closing remarks, thanked Viscount Trenchard for hosting the dinner, and also warmly acknowledged the continuing support of the society’s sponsors over a period when BKS had found it difficult to maintain a high level of activity.   He hoped that the fact the dinner had taken place was a herald of a return to more engagement, and gave a preview of planned events starting with an on-line talk on Korean Buddhism and the forthcoming AGM in March.   He also thanked the BKS committee for their hard work, and offered particular thanks to Sylvia Park for again arranging the event at the House of Lords, which always required a lot of work.  His thanks were echoed by applause from all present.   Martin then introduced the door prizes, two bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label courtesy of Diageo, a shopping experience at Bicester Village and a return business class ticket from London – Seoul offered by Asiana.


All in all, a very welcome return to face to face contact in a superb setting, much appreciated by all attendees.


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