The King’s Korean Speech: Charles makes references to K-pop culture (and even makes joke about Gangnam Style) at grand Buckingham Palace state banquet for South Korea’s President on official visit


King Charles gave a speech with references to K-pop culture at a grand Buckingham Palace state banquet for South Korea‘s President tonight. 

Speaking to more than 300 state banquet attendees, including singer BLACKPINK, he welcomed them with a smattering of Korean: ‘Yeong-gug-e osin geos-eul hwan-yeonghabnida [Welcome to Britain].’

Marking the 140th anniversary of Korea’s diplomatic relationship with the UK, the King described it as a ‘partnership in which close personal connections, fostered over many decades, have blossomed today into a real sense of affection, or jeong, between our societies at so many levels’. 

And he even joked about his own visit to the country in 1992 with the late Princess Diana, saying: ‘Sadly, when I was in Seoul all those years ago, I am not sure I developed much of what might be called the Gangnam Style!’

The King highlighted the ‘remarkable journey’ Korea has taken in the span of his lifetime, saying: ‘Koreans have created a miracle.’ 

President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol listens as King Charles speaks at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace

King Charles gives a speech with references to K-pop culture at a grand Buckingham Palace state banquet tonight

King Charles gives a speech with references to K-pop culture at a grand Buckingham Palace state banquet tonight 

King Charles raises a glass during his toast at the royal banquet this evening

King Charles raises a glass during his toast at the royal banquet this evening 

King Charles and his wife Queen Camilla ahead of the state banquet this evening

King Charles and his wife Queen Camilla ahead of the state banquet this evening 

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee ahead of the event at Buckingham Palace

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee ahead of the event at Buckingham Palace

William and Kate attending the state banquet at Buckingham Palace this evening

William and Kate attending the state banquet at Buckingham Palace this evening

Yoon Suk Yeol and King Charles during a toast at the event hosted in London

Yoon Suk Yeol and King Charles during a toast at the event hosted in London 

A general view as King Charles speaks at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace

A general view as King Charles speaks at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace

The Princess of Wales, Yoon Suk Yeol, King Charles and Queen Camilla at the table

The Princess of Wales, Yoon Suk Yeol, King Charles and Queen Camilla at the table

South Korean girl band BLACKPINK ahead of the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

South Korean girl band BLACKPINK ahead of the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty ahead of the state banquet at Buckingham Palace

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty ahead of the state banquet at Buckingham Palace

King Charles gave a speech with references to K-pop culture at a grand Buckingham Palace state banquet for South Korea 's President tonight

King Charles gave a speech with references to K-pop culture at a grand Buckingham Palace state banquet for South Korea ‘s President tonight

The King highlighted the 'remarkable journey' Korea has taken in the span of his lifetime

The King highlighted the ‘remarkable journey’ Korea has taken in the span of his lifetime

Queen Camilla wore a velvet red dress to the occasion tonight

Queen Camilla wore a velvet red dress to the occasion tonight 

Kate wore a long white dress with gloves to the banquet this evening

Kate wore a long white dress with gloves to the banquet this evening 

King Charles III listens as President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the banquet

King Charles III listens as President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the banquet 

King Charles, Queen Camilla and the Princess of Wales listen as Yoon Suk Yeol makes a speech

King Charles, Queen Camilla and the Princess of Wales listen as Yoon Suk Yeol makes a speech

The Duchess of Edinburgh ahead of the State Banquet at Buckingham Palac

The Duchess of Edinburgh ahead of the State Banquet at Buckingham Palac

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with his wife Victoria attending the event today

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with his wife Victoria attending the event today 

Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty arriving for a State Banquet

Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty arriving for a State Banquet

He added: ‘Even at the time of my last visit, that journey was clearly just beginning. The Republic of Korea’s drive and energy continued apace, and with it, the impact on British lives. From fridges and flatscreens to smartphones and semiconductors, it is clear that the model of industrial efficiency I glimpsed in Seoul thirty years ago has become the epitome of technological creativity today. ‘

Highlighting the ‘artistic creativity’ of the country, he praised the explosion of Korean culture.

‘Korea has matched Danny Boyle with Bong Joon-ho, James Bond with Squid Game, and the Beatles’ Let It Be with BTS’s Dynamite,’ he said.

‘Our cultures share a remarkable ability to captivate imaginations across the world, transforming a so-called soft power into a shared superpower. I fear, though, that I am unlikely ever to follow in King Sejong’s footsteps and create a whole new alphabet!’

He also praised Korea’s commitment to the environment despite the country’s great changes.

‘The Republic of Korea, as one of very few countries which ended the twentieth century with more trees than at the century’s beginning, has always grasped this,’ he said.

‘And I am delighted to observe your firm commitment to investment in carbon-free technologies, civil nuclear and renewable energy, in close partnership with U.K. industrial and policy expertise in vital sectors such as offshore wind.

‘It is especially inspiring to see Korea’s younger generation embrace the cause. I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, better known collectively as BLACKPINK, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as Ambassadors for the U.K.’s Presidency of COP 26, and later as advocates for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

‘I can only admire how they can prioritise these vital issues, as well as being global superstars. ‘

The King said his late mother, who last visited in 1999, was struck by the warmth of the welcome she received and the beauty of the country.

And he said he looked forward to a future with even closer connections in areas as diverse as football, to education, science and defence.

He also highlighted the close links between Korean and UK armed forces.

‘Seventy years ago, in the Korean War, British servicemen fought valiantly alongside your people, under the banner of the United Nations, for the freedom of the Republic of Korea,’ he said.

‘Over 1,000 of them perished and nearly 900 lie interred today at Busan. We are immensely proud to salute the veterans of that conflict, and to remember those no longer with us. All those who fought for the survival of your fledgling Republic are in admiration of what your country has become.

King Charles III with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol ahead of the State Banquet

King Charles III with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol ahead of the State Banquet

The Princess of Wales and Choo Kyung-ho, Deputy Prime Minister of South Korea

The Princess of Wales and Choo Kyung-ho, Deputy Prime Minister of South Korea

Kate is seen in the car on the way to the state banquet this evening

Kate is seen in the car on the way to the state banquet this evening 

Queen Camilla stands with Kim Keon Hee ahead of the state banquet

Queen Camilla stands with Kim Keon Hee ahead of the state banquet 

The Princess of Wales smiles as she attends the event at Buckingham Palace this evening

The Princess of Wales smiles as she attends the event at Buckingham Palace this evening 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, ahead of the event

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, ahead of the event 

The Archbishop of Canterbury attended the royal event today

The Archbishop of Canterbury attended the royal event today 

William and Kate smile as they attend the royal event in London tonight

William and Kate smile as they attend the royal event in London tonight 

King Charles gave a speech tonight littered with Korean and references to K-pop culture

King Charles gave a speech tonight littered with Korean and references to K-pop culture

Queen Camilla poses for photos before the event

Queen Camilla poses for photos before the event 

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee pose

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee pose

Kim Keon Hee wife of South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol arrives with Queen Camilla

Kim Keon Hee wife of South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol arrives with Queen Camilla

King Charles with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol followed by his wife Kim Keon Hee and Queen Camilla

King Charles with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol followed by his wife Kim Keon Hee and Queen Camilla

King Charles walks with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol

King Charles walks with President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol

Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Kim Eunhye attend the State Banquet

Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Kim Eunhye attend the State Banquet

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester walks with Ambassador Yoon Yeocheol

Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester walks with Ambassador Yoon Yeocheol

Prince William and Kate attend a ceremonial welcome for The President and the First Lady of the Republic of Korea

Prince William and Kate attend a ceremonial welcome for The President and the First Lady of the Republic of Korea

(From left) First Lady of South Korea, Kim Keon-hee; President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol; Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron; King Charles III; Home Secretary James Cleverly; Queen Camilla; Prince William and Kate Middleton at Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

(From left) First Lady of South Korea, Kim Keon-hee; President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol; Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron; King Charles III; Home Secretary James Cleverly; Queen Camilla; Prince William and Kate Middleton at Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

‘Through their own sweat and toil, and under the shadow of tyranny and the ever-present threat of aggression, over seven decades Koreans have built a bastion of democracy, human rights and freedom. In a world where these values are challenged, sadly, as rarely before in our lifetimes, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of all that we hold dear. ‘

The monarch concluded with another attempt at Korean – using the words for cheers – saying: ‘And so, Mr President, Madame Kim, it is with great pride and pleasure that I propose a toast to the next 140 years of Korean-British relations. Wihayeo! ‘

The king’s attempts at Korean clearly delighted the President and earned an unprecedented round of applause.

There were lovely words, too, from the President of Korea, who said he was ‘deeply touched’ by the ‘kind preparations and the warmth of your hospitality’.

He added: ‘Under Your Majesty’s reign, the UK – with its renewed vigour- is flourishing in great strides.

‘Your Majesty’s splendid leadership is not only bringing the people of the Commonwealth together but animating the very spirit of the Commonwealth of Nations.

‘Along with the profound respected dignity that Your Majesty is showing to the people as Monarch, both the British people and the people across the globe are appreciative of your down to earth character. We all pay tribute to your warm-hearted passion towards protecting the environment, caring for the most vulnerable members of society, and inheriting a better future for our youth.

‘To me, fair friend, the United Kingdom, you can never be old.’

The King has started putting his own stamp on the royal tableware used for state banquets.

Charles’s CIIIR cypher has been added to the delicate glasses – six at each setting – and side plates of the 1953 Coronation Set, replacing the late Queen’s EIIR cypher.

However, with 171 guests dining with the King and Queen in honour of the South Korean President, the mammoth task of removing the original markings and re-etching or embossing has yet to be completed.

Glasses on the top section of the horseshoe-shaped table – where the King, Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales, the president and first lady Kim Keon Hee were seated – featured the updated glasses, but the rest of the glassware has yet to be rebranded in honour of the King’s reign.

Most of the white china side plates – edged in gold – show the King’s new golden cypher in the middle, but a remaining 17 – at the two tail ends of the horseshoe – still bore the late Queen’s EIIR at the top.

South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee, accompanied by Queen Camilla and King Charles III, view a special exhibition of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Korea in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace today

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee, accompanied by Queen Camilla and King Charles III, view a special exhibition of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Korea in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace today

Prince William and Kate Middleton stand at Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

Prince William and Kate Middleton stand at Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Guests including K-pop stars Blackpink – made up of band members Jenni Kim, Jisoo Kim, Lisa Manobal and Rose Park – and Birmingham City footballer Cho So-hyun dined on a menu of warm tartlet of soft poached egg and spinach puree, breast of Windsor pheasant with croquette of celeriac and calvados sauce and salad, with a mango ice cream bombe for dessert.

The King and Queen continued the late Queen’s tradition of personally inspecting the table on Tuesday afternoon to make sure everything was in order.

The in-house Palace florists created displays of vibrant purple, red and pink blooms and foliage from Windsor Home Park and the Orchid Garden at the glasshouses in Windsor.

After the banquet, the flowers will donated to Floral Angels, a charity of which Camilla is patron, based at New Covent Garden Flower Market.

The flowers will then be delivered to hospices, elderly care homes and shelters.

Also on the table were pieces from George IV’s silver-gilt Grand Service, comprised of more than 4,000 items.

Pink sugar-crafted centrepieces, representing the Hibiscus Syriacus – the national flower of the republic of Korea – were presented alongside petit fours.

Footage of the delicate pink floral decorations being hand made in the Palace kitchens were shared on the royal family’s social media account.

‘The Kitchens have been busy putting finishing touches to dishes that will be served at tonight’s State Banquet,’ the post said.

King Charles’s speech at the State Banquet 

Mr President, Madame Kim Keon Hee,

It gives my wife and myself great pleasure to welcome you to Buckingham Palace this evening. Yeong-gug-e osin geos-eul hwan-yeonghabnida [Welcome to Britain].  As we mark the 140th anniversary of our two nations’ diplomatic relationship, your visit to the United Kingdom celebrates our remarkable partnership. It is a partnership in which close personal connections, fostered over many decades, have blossomed today into a real sense of affection, or jeong, between our societies at so many levels.

We also wonder at the remarkable journey your nation has taken in the span of a single lifetime – my lifetime, in fact. From wartime devastation at the time of my early childhood, Koreans have created a miracle. 

Even at the time of my last visit in 1992, that journey was clearly just beginning. The Republic of Korea’s drive and energy continued apace, and with it, the impact on British lives. From fridges and flatscreens to smartphones and semiconductors, it is clear that the model of industrial efficiency I glimpsed in Seoul thirty years ago has become the epitome of technological creativity today.

But it is probably artistic creativity which has brought about the most dramatic shift in Korea’s place in the British cultural landscape. Three decades ago, it would have been hard to imagine that the most popular exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2023 would be Hallyu, showcasing the Korean Wave, or that Korean would become the fastest-growing modern language among those studied at British universities. Korea has matched Danny Boyle with Bong Joon-ho, James Bond with Squid Game, and the Beatles’ Let It Be with BTS’s Dynamite. Our cultures share a remarkable ability to captivate imaginations across the world, transforming a so-called soft power into a shared superpower. I fear, though, that I am unlikely ever to follow in King Sejong’s footsteps and create a whole new alphabet!

And within these decades of enormous change, I am truly heartened to see that the environment has not been forgotten, nor the importance of achieving a healthy balance between development and our natural heritage. The Republic of Korea, as one of very few countries which ended the twentieth century with more trees than at the century’s beginning, has always grasped this. And I am delighted to observe your firm commitment to investment in carbon-free technologies, civil nuclear and renewable energy, in close partnership with U.K. industrial and policy expertise in vital sectors such as offshore wind.

It is especially inspiring to see Korea’s younger generation embrace the cause. I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, better known collectively as BLACKPINK, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as Ambassadors for the U.K.’s Presidency of COP 26, and later as advocates for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. I can only admire how they can prioritise these vital issues, as well as being global superstars. Sadly, when I was in Seoul all those years ago, I am not sure I developed much of what might be called the Gangnam Style!

Your country’s concern for the natural environment is matched by an appreciation of your unique built environment. Thus, alongside striking pieces of modern architecture, and the innovative partnerships between British and Korean cities to make urban environments more liveable, it gives me great encouragement to know that older pieces of traditional Korean design and architecture have been saved from redevelopment before it is too late. And it would have pleased Her late Majesty The Queen I know, who was struck on Her State Visit to Korea in 1999 not just by the incredibly warm welcome she received across your country, but also by the beauty and harmony of the traditional villages and temples of Andong, amongst your country’s majestic mountains. Korea’s preservation of its sense of self, amid bewildering change, was perhaps what the poet Yun Dong-ju, who so tragically died in captivity on the very eve of Korea’s liberation, anticipated when he wrote:

While the wind keeps blowing,

My feet stand upon a rock.

While the river keeps flowing,

My feet stand upon a hill.

Mr President, Madame Kim,

As our nations strive towards a harmony between progress and preservation, between the past and the present, we can look to the future with great confidence as our peoples forge ever closer links. In education, so many young Koreans and Britons study at each other’s world-class universities. In the arts, Korean singers and musicians delight audiences when they perform with British orchestras. In sport, Korean footballers grace the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, and a British coach manages Korea’s women’s football team. In science, our researchers collaborate to find new energy solutions through hydrogen and fusion technology. Our defence companies seek joint projects which will let them find new markets together. Our cyber experts work together to protect us from those who would do us harm.

In addition our armed forces exercise and share expertise at a level of intensity befitting two powers which bear global responsibilities. Seventy years ago, in the Korean War, British servicemen fought valiantly alongside your people, under the banner of the United Nations, for the freedom of the Republic of Korea. Over 1,000 of them perished and nearly 900 lie interred today at Busan. We are immensely proud to salute the veterans of that conflict, and to remember those no longer with us. All those who fought for the survival of your fledgling Republic are in admiration of what your country has become. Through their own sweat and toil, and under the shadow of tyranny and the ever-present threat of aggression, over seven decades Koreans have built a bastion of democracy, human rights and freedom. In a world where these values are challenged, sadly, as rarely before in our lifetimes, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of all that we hold dear.

And so, Mr President, Madame Kim, it is with great pride and pleasure that I propose a toast to the next 140 years of Korean-British relations. Wihayeo!



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