South Korean President Park Geun-hye – UK Visit

Today sees the start of a very busy November for the UK as we look forward to the annual Korean Film Festival and not one but TWO Kpop concerts in the form of Kpop supergroup Super Junior and dancing sensation Infinite, as well as a visit from 2NE1 at the KBEE Expo. But the most impressive event this month will be South Korea’s President herself paying the UK a visit!

image from Korea Net

image from Korea Net – President Park Geun-hye (second from left) outlines her upcoming trip to Europe at a meeting with chief presidential advisors at Cheong Wa Dae on October 31. (Photo: Cheong Wa Dae)

It was announced early this year that Her Excellency Park Geun-hye accepted an invitation from The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 5th to 7th November, where she will stay at Buckingham Palace.

Park Geun-hye will be setting off on her first presidential trip to Europe since her inauguration this February, from the 2nd to the 9th November, heading to France, United Kingdom and Belgium.

It has been reported that whilst in Paris, along with the usual Presidential meetings and sight seeing of some of Paris’ most famous museums, President Park will also be attending a Korean TV Drama Festival! Does the busy President actually have any time to watch TV? Like us, is her secret guilty pleasure curling up on the sofa with some snacks and watching a marathon of K-drama episodes?!

To mark the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire of the Korean War and the continuing friendship between the UK and South Korea (130 years and counting!), Korea Net reports:

President Park will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a Korean War memorial, the first monument of its kind in the United Kingdom.

During her stay in the UK, President Park will also be meeting with all the big names in the UK at the House of Lords and the House of Commons as well as our Prime Minister and a very special State Banquet with The Queen at Buckingham Palace before heading to Belgium.

President Park Guen-hye delivers a speech during a Korean War at the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul, July 27, 2013
by KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea[/url], on Flickr

In Belgium, in addition to the Presidential activities, which includes meetings and visiting the Korean War memorial, President Park will be  signing a working holiday agreement with Belgium to further friendly relationships between the two countries and attend the opening ceremony of the new Belgium Korean Cultural Centre.

I’m sure Europe is busy preparing for the visit and if you want to find out more details about the South Korean President’s visit to Europe, make sure you check out the Korea Net website, the official website of the South Korean government, who will be reporting on the President’s travels.

Although this may be an exciting event for the UK, there is also a lot of controversy as reported in our previous post, as Park Geun-hye is not the most popular of Presidents. Her father was the infamous Park Chung-hee, credited as one of the main influences for bringing economic prosperity to South Korea yet also often called a military fascist dictator for his highly oppressive ways. Because of her father, Park stepped into the political world from a very young age, and after the death of her mother Park took on the role as First Lady and at the age of 22 she was receiving the spouses of foreign heads of state at South Korea’s presidential residence. 34 years after the assassination of her father, Park now takes on the role of President, being the very first female president.

Park Geun Hye Park Chung Hee father daughter Korea

Park Geun-hye with her late father, Park Chung-hee in 1977
image source: CNN

With South Korea being one of the most technically forward countries, it’s also one of the most backward first world countries when it comes to gender issues. Although many champion the fact that South Korea now has a female President (including Kpop girlband Girls’ day who sang about it), many of the South Korean public, the younger generations in particular, do not feel Park would help and may even result in regression of Korean democracy. Saying this, Park recently spoke at the annual convention of women’s advocacy groups and promised to make the country a better place for women, with more jobs and opportunities, and less gender-based discrimination.

But as the first year of her presidency comes to a close and with the publication of the 2014 Budget, controversy rises again as it showed the government backtracking on a number of pledges that helped Park Geun-hye win the election, including a number of cuts on items such as a welfare plan which is said to be the heart of her campaign. And even though the South Korean President seems to be travelling the world, working hard to strengthen international relationships, many have criticised the President’s lack of communication with the people of South Korea and the lack of domestic press conferences.

Park Geun-hye’s UK visit will no doubt be a controversial one, but we hope this visit will strengthen the friendship and understanding between our two countries. Don’t forget to check out and keep up to date with the Korea Net website and Korea Net Official Facebook page!

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