Millions of pounds and thousands of new jobs could flood into Gloucester when a new trade agreement is signed with the South Korean city of Paju.
Gloucester mayor Chris Chatterton and Paju mayor In-Jae Lee will sign an agreement between the two cities when they meet on April 22.
It could be an economic boon for Gloucester as fast-emerging, futuristic South Korean companies eye up the UK market as the next place to open up for business. The Gyeonggi-do Province, in which Paju lies, is home to technology giants Samsung and LG.
Gloucester will be promoted as a ‘gateway to the UK’ by Mr Chatterton when he visits Paju on a privately-funded trip with Robert Dixon OBE and Chris Ryland, chairman and vice chairman of the Trustees of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
It could mean millions of pounds of investment by private firms and thousands of jobs for Gloucester people.
The agreement is being signed on the back of strong historical ties between the two cities after the Glorious Glosters soldiers took a last stand in the Korean War in 1951.
Mr Chatterton said: “This is a truly unique opportunity. This is not about a fluffy twinning between two cities, this is about cementing the historical link we already have with economic and cultural benefits that could transform Gloucester’s future.
“The Korean economy is growing faster than most other places in the world. They have been developing at an astonishing rate and are now a powerhouse in the world with the likes of Samsung, Kia and Hyundai making for an impressive economy.
“There are a lot of businesses that want to come to the UK and Gloucester is perfectly placed. We have got great links to the rest of the country with the motorway.
“This is not about short term gain but rather a relationship that will benefit both cities for decades to come.”
The agreement to become ‘economic sister cities’ will also promote cultural links between Paju, a city which straddles the North Korean border and is home to 250,000 people, and Gloucester.
Seven schools will form links with their counterparts 5,500 miles away, including Beech Green, Severn Vale, King’s School, Stroud High, Marling School, Longlevens Junior and the National Star College.
South Korea’s ambassador to the UK, Sungnam Lim, who backed the agreement recently in London, said: “The relationship between the two cities is the seed of future developments.”
HONOURING THE GLORIOUS GLOSTERS
Glorious Glosters who took an heroic last stand in the Korean War are to be honoured with a multi-million pound giant monument in the South Korean city of Paju.
The towering beret, which is set against the backdrop of photographs of all the men who fought in 1951 from the Gloucestershire Regiment, is to be unveiled before the eyes of six veterans on St George’s Day.
The memorial is designed as a lasting tribute to the events of 1951 when for almost four days, fewer than 800 soldiers from the Glosters held off an army of 6,000 Chinese at the Battle of Imjin River, slowing down their advance into South Korea.
The monument will be 6.2metres wide and 2.2metres tall and will list all of the names of men who fought.
Paju is close to the border with North Korea and the battle in which the Glosters fought was near to the city at Imjin Hill. One of the hills that surround the city has been renamed Gloster Hill as a further tribute.
Gloucester mayor Chris Chatterton said: “In some respects the Korean War has been forgotten in Britain, maybe because it came relatively quickly after the Second World War. We perhaps don’t tell the story as well as we should do in the city, but in South Korea it is hugely important and their children learn all about what happened.
“The memorial is going to be extremely impressive and is a fitting tribute for the years to come.”
It follows on from a generous donation of £94,000 from South Korea to the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, in Gloucester Docks, last year when dignitaries from the country visited the city.
The museum is currently undergoing a major refurbishment but will eventually feature an impressive section on the Korean War, aided by the money that was donated in 2013.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS DURING VISIT
An envoy of Gloucester representatives are heading to the city of Paju from April 21 to 26 to promote economic, cultural and historical links between the two cities. This is their diary of events:
- Day 1: Travelling to Paju.
- Day 2: Both city mayors will sign an agreement between Gloucester and Paju.
- Day 3: Memorial to the Glorious Glosters unveiled on St George’s Day.
- Day 4 and 5: Visits to schools, museums, an ‘English’ village and other cultural meetings in the capital, Seoul.
- Day 6: Dignitaries, who will be promoting the world-class status of Gloucester Rugby, will enjoy a rugby match with Korean officials.
HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH SOUTH KOREA
The Gloucester envoy have all received a special briefing on what to do and what not to do during their visit to Paju since British and South Korean cultures are world’s apart from each other.
When presenting a business card, use both hands and take a slight bow when handing it over.
When receiving a business card, never put it in your back pocket as it is seen as rude. Study it thoroughly before putting it away.
When presenting gifts to the South Koreans, never present anything with red writing, objects that come in sets of four (such as four mugs), green head wear or knives or scissors as they all signify death.
VETERAN WELCOMES NEW MEMORIAL
When veterans of the Korean War get together it is always an emotion occasion.
Ben Whitchurch, 82, is one of six veterans hoping to travel to Paju for St George’s Day when the new monument to the Glosters is unveiled in the city.
It will be the first time he has returned to the city after he fought in the country in 1951. He was held as a prisoner of war in North Korea for two and a half years where he says men including himself were brainwashed for 14 hours a day and forced into hard labour.
He has welcomed the new memorial.
“This monument is going to be huge,” he said. “It will be very fitting for a city like Paju, which is such a thriving place.
“We are hoping to get over there for the unveiling. It will be a very emotional occasion for me because it is a reminder of what happened and of all the men that didn’t come back.
“The city of Paju has already given the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum thousands of pounds and this monument shows how much they care. It is going to be marvellous.”
Mr Whitchurch, from Bristol, was a private in the anti-tank platoon.