Chairman’s Message Christmas 2020

Posted by: Hannah Giles  |  Posted on: December 22nd, 2020

Chairman’s message to BKS members


At a time when we are asking you for another year’s subscription, as well as asking you to make use of a new online mechanism for membership, it is high time to let you know how things look for 2021.


I am sure you share with the committee our enthusiasm to re-start the Society’s operations as soon as we can, even though there are clearly many bridges to cross before anything like normal operations can be resumed.  But we believe it is now possible to start (albeit in modified form) some of our regular events.  We are therefore planning on:


  • Two Ambassadors’ Briefing. The British Ambassadors in Seoul and Pyongyang have agreed to take part in an early evening online event to bring us up to date on developments on the Korean Peninsula. I am currently speaking to Chatham House to see if we could repeat the successful joint meeting we held in 2019, but this is something we would be able to take on as a Zoom meeting by ourselves if need be. We hope to hold this in the first few months of 2021, and will let you know of firm plans once they are fixed.
  • Our Annual General Meeting in March. We believe we should hold our AGM even if it will have to be done over Zoom this time. We shall try to include the normal elements, like the Korean Ambassador’s remarks and reports from our grant recipients, if at all possible.  We have 25 March marked down as the date and will circulate papers nearer the time.
  • An event honouring British Veterans of the Korean War. Plans are still going ahead for this event, to be held on 12 May. In expectation that we will still have some COVID restrictions in force, this will be an online meeting in the afternoon, which you will be able to see on Zoom or YouTube.
  • Diners’ evenings. Most of you will be familiar with our popular diners’ evenings when we meet at a London Korean restaurant to enjoy each other’s company and Korean food.  Since these can be organised at quite short notice and we can be guided by government guidance on meeting in restaurants, we believe this could be an agreeable way to re-start face-to-face meetings when the time is right.
  • Lectures at the National Army Museum. I am delighted that the NAM is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Imjin next year with three lectures in March, April and May, including one by our own Brigadier Brian Parritt. These are designed for their own members, but they have agreed that BKS members will be allowed access. We will circulate details when available.
  • The Committee has also confirmed that we will make a booking in the House of Lords for our annual dinner this autumn. We will let you know of the date once it is fixed.
  • I am sure that when circumstances allow the Korean Ambassador will wish to welcome us once again to the Embassy or Residence – but when that will be is clearly too far off to predict at present, unfortunately.
  • We also hope that some of the above events may be able to intersect with Lunar New Year on 12 February (a Diners’ evening, if restaurants are open by then?) and Chuseok on 21 September.


We will continue to look out for other events which might be of interest, including online lectures, but we would also greatly value input from our members on events or projects that you would like the Society to support or arrange.  Please do let us know.


The Committee has agreed that when looking at the price to be charged for some of the events above, we will ensure that an appropriate margin is set between the price for members and for non-members so as to return to you the value of the subscriptions you have been paying.


I should stress that while our events have had to be suspended, we have been continuing our programme of grants for ventures that will promote UK/Korean relations.  Sadly a good number of such proposals have themselves fallen victim to COVID restrictions but enough worthwhile projects have sought funding that we have been able to make very good use of our funds.  I would especially like to mention that one of our grant recipients, Sukyeon Cho at Sheffield University, has been honoured with an award from President Moon for her contribution to the teaching of Korean.  The President’s award was quite separate from our grant, but it is demonstrative of the quality of the recipients who apply to us.


On behalf of the Committee and of my own family (which I am delighted to say now includes a Korean daughter-in-law following my son’s wedding in October) I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with the profound hope that we will all stay safe and be able to meet often in 2021!


Martin Uden

BKS Chairman

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