The 73rd Independence Day celebrations in New Malden

by Philip Gowman on 18 August, 2018

in Event reports and reviews | Expos and Festivals | Kingston + New Malden | Koreatowns

HE Ambassador Park Eun-ha

HE Ambassador Park Eun-ha in her first public engagement in the UK

Kingston’s Koreans today celebrated the 73rd anniversary of Independence Day. It was the first public engagement of the new ambassador, HE Park Eun-ha, who is to be thanked for making the time: she only arrived in London to take up her post two days ago.

In attendance were Kingston’s Mayor, Thay Thayalan, and the leader of Kingston’s Council, Liz Green. The event was organized by the Korean Residents Society, whose Chairman, Ha Jaeseung, was elected to the Kingston Council in May. He was supported at the event by several other councillors. Liz Green, in her congratulatory remarks, encouraged the community gathered there to approach the councillors with questions, problems and ideas.

Team photo of Ambassador, Mayor, Councillors and other dignitaries

Team photo of Ambassador, Mayor, Councillors and other dignitaries

The centrepiece of the opening ceremony was a recording of President Moon’s Independence Day address (English version here) in which he turned the spotlight on the role of women in the Independence Movement. “Over the past year since last year’s Liberation Day, the Government has identified 202 female independence fighters and had their names proudly registered in the history of liberation. Among them, 26 patriots have been chosen for the conferment of honours and decorations today. The remainder will continue to be honoured.”

When the annual festival was held on Kingston’s Fairfield Recreation Ground there used to be a march-past of the British Veterans from the Korean War. In the courtyard behind the Glasshouse pub there was no room for such a parade. But the formal part of the ceremonies concluded as usual with the three cheers of 대한 민국 만세.

There followed some folk song and traditional dance performances from the senior citizens of the Academy of Korean Culture (UK), talented amateurs who enjoy coming together to make music in their spare time. Kimbap and box lunches on sale – together with ales from the Glasshouse bar – made a perfect way to close the morning’s events. As the formal opening ceremony and cultural performances were coming to an end there seemed to be a younger audience gathering, perhaps anticipating the K-pop cover performances later in the afternoon. And the Glasshouse regulars were also looking on, enjoying the proceedings.

Independence Day banner

In other news from New Malden, the Fountain Pub is no more – demolished to make way for residential accommodation. The courtyard at the back of the Fountain used to host the annual Korean Food Festival in July. Maybe the Glasshouse can be persuaded to host it in future.

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