Following King Charles III’s visit to New Malden yesterday (November 8) to meet representatives of the largest Korean community in Europe, Kingston Courier spoke to Justina Jang, director of charity Korean British Cultural Exchange (KBCE), about the day and an exhibition opening in Kingston.
Jang escorted the King shortly after his arrival at New Malden Methodist Church. She talked to him about the exhibition The Ties Through Time, which opens this (Thursday) evening at Fusebox, a new multi-arts space under John Lewis on Kingston’s riverside.
The exhibition celebrates the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Korea.
After telling the King about the exhibition and the beautiful British Embassy building in Korea built in 1892, she gave him a Kimchi recipe book (the national dish of Korea), after collecting recipes from North Korean, South Korean and Chinese Korean people in the borough.
“His birthday is on 14 November, so we actually gave him Kimchi officially made for him. He doesn’t like spice so we put half the amount of chilli powder and boiled the garlic to reduce the smells. We never put any sugar and used pear instead.
“When he actually got it, he made the comment: ‘I hope it’s not going to blow my head off!‘ That was funny.
“He wasn’t sure what Kimchi was. The Korean ambassador explained to him it’s fermented cabbage.”
Jang said she would like people to come down and see the The Ties Through Time exhibition. “You could learn what happened before and what we can actually build together. Yesterday, we made history between Korea and the UK and that can be done every single day, not just by famous people but by people like us.”
At the launch of the exhibition Dr Jim Hoare will give a talk about diplomatic relations between the two countries from 1604 to 1905. The KBCE are expecting over 70 attendees, including the current Korean ambassador and the previous Korean and British ambassadors.
The exhibition runs until November 22, when the President of Korea Yoon Suk Yeol will be visiting the UK, as guest of the King.
November 22 is also Kimchi Day, celebrated by Kingston Council, which became the first place in Europe to declare the annual celebration earlier this year.
Leader of Kingston Council Andreas Kirsch said: “[The day] is a fitting celebration of the central role our Korean communities play in the cultural life of our borough.”
For anyone eager to try the best of Korean food and drink, Jang recommended a few of her favourite spots: Kang Nam, The Place and Cake & Bingsoo Café on New Malden high street, Jin Go Gae on Burlington Road and the newly-opened Cah Chi Korean BBQ on Kingston Road.
“That’s really good…They’ve even got the fridge for ageing the beef, which is really good for barbecues.”