On behalf of the House of Lords, and everyone here today, it gives me great pleasure to thank you for your address. The reception you have received should give you an indication of the esteem in which you are held by members of this Parliament.
You have chosen to come to the United Kingdom in a year of anniversaries, making your visit especially relevant. 2013 marks the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. It marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice ending hostilities in the Korean War. And it marks the 25th anniversary of the Seoul Olympics and the unveiling to the world of the Sixth Republic of Korea. But beyond these notable events, our distant geography has restricted engagement between us. Until relatively recently our countries had little shared history.
But how things have changed. In the first recorded encounter between the United Kingdom and Korea, in 1797, Captain William Broughton sailed to Pusan on the survey ship HMS Providence. He remarked in his logbook upon the indifference with which he was met by the local inhabitants, and wondered at their reluctance to trade. Last year, little more than 200 years later, Korea made the largest contribution of any country in the world to the UK’s export growth rate.
It is not only in trade that this partnership is blossoming. Our shared approach to many of today’s global challenges bodes equally well. Your commitment to non-proliferation, environmental sustainability and global economic reform makes Korea an invaluable friend to the UK.
Indeed, I have had first-hand experience of these closer ties, through my efforts to cultivate interparliamentary relations. This year alone, I have had fruitful discussions with the Speaker of your National Assembly, and with members of your UK and Ireland Parliamentary Friendship Associations, as well as with your new Envoy in London, Ambassador Lim. I look forward to many more such encounters as Lord Speaker.
Madam President, the strides your country has made in the last 25 years, establishing and consolidating a robust and thriving democracy, confirm Korea as a vital global and regional player. I am an unfailing admirer of your own achievements in overcoming great personal tragedy to lead your country through such fraught times, when the balance on the Korean peninsula is so delicate. It has been an honour to welcome you to the Houses of Parliament, and I hope that your visit to the UK proves both constructive and enjoyable.'
Image: House of Lords 2013/Photography by Roger Harris