King Charles was out and about in New Malden, one of Europe’s largest Korean expatriate communities, on Wednesday, as Buckingham Palace announced the dates and details for the upcoming State Visit from South Korea.
According to the Royal Family social media, Kingston-upon-Thames, where New Malden is located, can also be known as Koreatown and has one of the most densely Korean populations outside of South Korea.
The Royal Family’s social media shared photos and videos of The King’s visit to New Malden, billing it as “Getting ready to welcome the Republic of Korea!”
King Charles paid a visit to the New Malden Methodist Church to learn more about Korean culture and food; later visited the Cake & Bing Soo cake shop to meet with members of the local Korean community; and finally stopped at the New Malden War Memorial to speak with members of the Royal British Legion ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The King was accompanied by the United Kingdom’s Ambassador from South Korea, Ambassador Yeocheol Yoon, and the Mayor of Kingston, Diane White. He enjoyed a Korean dance performance with musical accompaniment from the London Korean Hummingbirds Choir.
During the visit, he met with members of various Korean community organisations, including the Korean Residents Society, the Korean Restaurant and Supermarkets Association, and faith leaders.
The King also took a keen interest in K-pop music. Local resident Sunny Lee told The Independent, “He was saying how he got to see the traditional performance and that it was a shame that we didn’t get to see a real K-pop performance live as well.”
Ahead of his 75th birthday on 14 November, the King received a special gift of kimchi, and jokingly asked: “Will it blow my head off?”
He also received a Korean recipe book and said, “I shall know a lot more before the president arrives.”
Buckingham Palace announced that the South Korean State Visit will take place between 21 and 23 November, with King Charles and Queen Camilla hosting President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon-hee.
Upon their arrival in London, the Prince and Princess of Wales will meet the South Korean President and First Lady at their hotel and travel to Horse Guards Parade for an official welcome from King Charles and Queen Camilla.
Following the welcome ceremony—which will include inspecting the Guard of Honour—the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the President and the First Lady will travel by carriage back to Buckingham Palace.
The first evening will be marked by a glittering state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Other engagements include a wreath-laying ceremony with the Duke of Gloucester to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, a tour of Westminster Abbey, wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and meeting with veterans at the Royal Chelsea Hospital who served in the Korean War.
President Yoon Suk Yeol will also be given the chance to address the Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery; the couple will attend several business and governmental meetings; and will attend, with the Duchess of Edinburgh, a roundtable on scientific advancement.