Long-time British residents of Korea speculate about how long the annual tradition of the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea’s Christmas Lunch has gone on. None can say for sure, but it is at least as long-lived as the British Chamber itself. This year’s event was at the Grand Ballroom of the new Four Seasons Hotel on Friday.
Attended by over 400 distinguished guests from the local business, diplomatic and academic communities, the event featured traditional holiday fare as well as Christmas music by the Salvation Army Band, Dulwich College Seoul Junior Choir and Camarata Music Company. Demonstrating true British spirit during this season of giving, the chamber collected over 50 million won (US$42,800) for its charities Jeon Jin Sang and Helping Hands Korea. Jeon Jin Sang provides medical care to the less fortunate, and Helping Hands Korea helps support North Korean children in need.
“This year featured strong growth for the chamber, including a doubling of event attendance and strengthening our new role in assisting British enterprises in doing business in Korea,” remarked BCCK Chairman Michael Reed. “The Christmas Lunch was a huge accomplishment and ended the year quite well, with the highest attendance ever and the most money raised for our charities.”
In his toast to the gathering, U.K. Ambassador to Korea Charles Hay congratulated the BCCK for hosting a wonderful event and for its impressive work for charity.
“During this momentous year of 2015, the Chamber has shown vision and ambition in its new role – in partnership with U.K. Trade and Investment – helping British companies seeking to do business in Korea,” remarked Ambassador Hay. “The partnership is already working well, and as the BCCK enhance their services in the years to come, I am sure that that the trade relationship between the U.K. and Korea will continue to go from strength to strength.”
The BCCK implemented a dramatic change in 2015 by hiring full-time CEO Sean Blakeley and other staff to manage the promotion of the entrance and development of British trade, commerce and investment in Korea, as well provide assistance to Korean companies doing business in the U.K.
“The relationship between the British Embassy and UK Trade and Investment and the Chamber has become a lot closer, and we expect great things in 2016,” noted BCCK CEO Sean Blakeley. “We plan to hire new staff to expand our membership support and market entry services.”
The festive lunch featured an appearance by Father Christmas, a four-course meal, top-quality wine and the opportunity for guests to get into the holiday spirit by taking part in a “12 Days of Christmas” singing competition. Over 80 sponsors offered raffle prizes and auction items, with top prizes and cash donations coming from Barings, British Airways, Standard Chartered Bank, Jo Malone and Mini.