3 Gifts for British Veterans of the Korean War -I

Written by on February 2, 2011 in Special Report

* This is the first in a three-part series on the Three Gifts for British Veterans of the Korean War.

Two and a half years have passed since the Korean Cultural Centre was established near Trafalgar Square in central London on January 30, 2008. I believe the Centre is finding its footing with a well organized internal system, despite the short period of time since its establishment. I have experienced much during the 18 months after my taking office at the end of August, 2009 and would like to share the special experiences through this article.When the necessity of a special event was suggested for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War in 2010, it was considered as a simple idea that anyone could have proposed.

The simple idea shifted however, when it started to develop based on the center’s motto: “From the Local View Point and For the Clients”. After searching data related to the Korean War, we discovered that the United Kingdom was the second-largest ally following the United States. Almost 58,000 British soldiers participated in the war, resulting in 1109 deaths and 2674 wounded. The agreement to hold an event focusing on the British war veterans came naturally.
The need for reflecting British values, such as social respect for war veterans and active donation, was added to the main idea. This resulted in the creation of the “Three Korean Cultural Gifts Set (exhibition, picture postcards, and charity auction)”, to express deep gratitude for those who fought for South Korea during the war.

The First Gift – Exhibition

The Korean Cultural Centre UK held a small exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War from June 15 to July 17, 2010. The exhibition title “Present from the Past” not only meant “the present caused by the past” but also “gift from the past”, emphasizing the exhibition’s objective of thanking the British war veterans who shed their blood for South Korea.

The opening of the exhibition

The opening of the exhibition

We invited 40 Korean artists and requested A4 sized works of art based on one of four given themes regarding the Korean War : ① Connection beyond time and space, ② Demolition and Creation, ③ The forgotten war and unforgettable people, ④ My Korea and unstable peace. They were given the small fund of 100 pounds as a symbolic gesture as the artwork was requested to be donated. All the artists showed generosity in their participation.

War veterans look at the art

By Yong-Ki Won, Head of the Korean Cultural Centre UK

The exhibition held on June 15 was a success. Various Korean and British media covered the event with the total of media and press coverage being 20 (17 news articles and 3 broadcasts). In particular, ‘Impact Asia’ of BBC World broadcast a 7 minute report, which let the exhibition to be known not only in the UK but also throughout the world. Mishal Husain, the upcoming main anchor of BBC, visited the center before the report and attended the exhibition. In her report, she mentioned specific art pieces which impressed her, recommended the viewers to visit the center, and even posted positive comments on her Twitter account. Influential magazines such as the Guardian and Art Monthly expressed special interest in the exhibition as well.

About the Author

Employees of both Korea.net and KOCIS write on the Korea Blog.