His Majesty to Visit Korean Community in New Malden

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Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence, during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador from the Republic of Korea, Gunn Kim, accompanied by HeeJung Lee (left), at Buckingham Palace, London, October 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence, during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador from the Republic of Korea, Gunn Kim, accompanied by HeeJung Lee (left), at Buckingham Palace, London, October 2021.

HIS MAJESTY THE KING WILL VISIT THE KOREAN COMMUNITY IN NEW MALDEN, SURREY

Wednesday 8th November 2023

His Majesty The King will visit New Malden on Wednesday, 8th November to spend time with the area’s Korean community, ahead of the state visit by the President of the Republic of Korea and the First Lady later this month.

The King will meet community groups at New Malden Methodist Church and hear about Korea’s culture and cuisine, before visiting a stall showcasing a selection of Korean specialities. His Majesty will also visit the nearby Cake & Bing Soo Shop to meet young Koreans.

Before departing, ahead of Remembrance Day, the King will visit New Malden War Memorial and meet members of the local Royal British Legion branch.

On arrival at New Malden Methodist Church, the King will meet the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the UK, His Excellency Yeocheol Yoon, as well as local council representatives including the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston.

Once inside the church, His Majesty will meet representatives from community, cultural, culinary and faith groups based in New Malden and the surrounding area, including the Korean Residents Society, the Korean Restaurant and Supermarkets Association and local faith leaders.

The King will view an exhibition on the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, organised by the Korean British Cultural Exchange in collaboration with Kingston Museum.

His Majesty will also stop at a presentation of Korean food in the church, where a variety of items will be on display. The King will also watch a contemporary dance performance and listen to the local London Korean Hummingbirds Choir sing a traditional song ‘Beautiful Country’.

Finally, the King will meet a group of residents representing the diversity of the communities living in New Malden.

After visiting the church, the King will stop into nearby Korean-owned cake shop, Cake & Bing Soo, to meet young Koreans who live in the local area. Before departing, His Majesty will be presented with a special cake by the owner of Cake & Bing Soo.

Finally, ahead of Remembrance Sunday, His Majesty will visit New Malden War Memorial and meet local representatives from the Royal British Legion.

The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has one of the largest expatriate communities of Koreans in Europe, particularly focused around the New Malden area, which is sometimes described as Koreatown. It is reputed to be one of the most densely populated areas of Koreans outside South Korea.

There are estimated to be around 10,000 Koreans in New Malden itself and up to 20,000 Koreans living in surrounding areas. As well as the Korean population, New Malden also has a substantial wider Southeast Asian population and is the most ethnically diverse area in the borough.

A number of reasons are cited to explain why New Malden has such a significant Korean community. Lord Chancellor’s Walk in Coombe Lane West in New Malden previously served as the original residence of the Ambassador of South Korea to the United Kingdom. Samsung Electronics also had its UK offices in New Malden until 2005. A combination of these factors seems to have led many Koreans to settle in New Malden in the 1970s.

The New Malden and wider Kingston area is notable for the number and prominence of Korean businesses and community amenities. These include Korean language churches and nursery schools as well as restaurants and shops. New Malden functions as the shopping and cultural centre for a Korean population spread more widely across southwest London and the neighbouring counties, with Korean supermarkets and more than 20 Korean restaurants and cafes.

Kingston Council works closely with local community organisations to ensure that the Korean contribution to the diverse life of the borough is celebrated. These organisations include the Korean British Cultural Exchange, The Korea Town Foundation, the Korean Resident Society, the North Korean Residents Society, Korean Senior Citizens CIC, Korean Culture & Arts Centre, the London Korean School and the New Malden Town Centre Partnership.

In January 2023, the Royal Borough of Kingston became the first place in Europe to declare 22 November as Kimchi Day, to be celebrated annually. This was intended both as a reflection on the central role the Korean communities play in the cultural life of the borough and an appropriate way to celebrate 140 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and the United Kingdom.

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