중앙데일리

Navy admiral builds on 200-year tradition in visit to South Korea

Jan 29,2007
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the British Royal Navy’s first sea lord. By Richard Scott-Ashe
As rumors of a possible second nuclear test filter out of North Korea, the United Kingdom dispatched a member of its top military brass on a diplomatic visit to the South. The Royal Navy’s first sea lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, came to the peninsula to gain a deeper understanding of the precarious political situation in northeast Asia. He was appointed head of the UK’s fleet in February 2006.
The British government often sends key military figures to meet with allies overseas. In this case, their choice was apt, as not only do Korea and the UK share a long history of naval ties, but Admiral Band himself is known for his interest in Admiral Yi Sun-shin, the undefeated, Japanese-fighting Joseon naval hero whose statue graces central Seoul near Gwangwhamun.
The First Sea Lord began his career in the navy after graduating from Exeter University and has seen service around the world.
After an impressive series of commands and promotions and involvement in conflicts in Bosnia and Iraq, he now finds himself at the top of his profession and the principal naval aide-de-camp to the queen of England. As part of his tour of Korea, which will take him to the Joint Security Area, the Fleet Command at Chinhae and the Naval Headquarters at Gyeryongdae, the admiral toured the War Memorial Museum in Seoul.
At the museum, he took part in a wreath-laying ceremony and a moment of silence in honor of the over 1,000 British soldiers who lost their lives in the Korean War.
Eight hundred of those are buried on the peninsula, in the Busan National Cemetery.
The relationship between the navies of Korea and the UK stretches back over 200 years.
The first contact was made by Captain William Broughton of HMS Providence in 1797.
Broughton had previously been exploring the South Pacific in command of the HMS Chatham, when, in 1791, he and his crew became the first Europeans to discover the group of South Pacific islands now named after their ship.
Having changed ships to join a mission to survey the coast of the North Pacific, he landed in Busan.
The link between the two countries was later cemented by sailors of the HMS Flying Fish during an 1882 visit to Incheon, when they introduced a future favorite of Koreans; the sport of soccer.
They taught the game to locals and left soccer boots and a ball behind so that the game could continue to thrive in their absence.
In 2006, to celebrate the legacy of that event, a “Challenge Cup” was held between the crew of the HMS Westminster and a Korean Navy team.
Korean ships also visit the UK, such as in June 2005, when they participated in 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar. Much like Yi Sun-shin in Seoul, Admiral Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, is immortalized atop the famed Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London.
When asked about possible Royal Navy participation in enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea, First Sea Lord Admiral Band said Britain was ready to act if needed. “As the Royal Navy has a strong relationship with South Korea and also acts under the auspices of the United Nations, it would act if it saw the need, Admiral Band said.
The Royal Navy sends ships to Korea on a fairly regular basis, the last time being in October 2006, the month of the first North Korean nuclear test.


By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Writer [richard@joongang.co.kr]


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