South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is set to embark on a state visit to Britain on Monday, aiming to strengthen economic ties and enhance security partnerships in the face of North Korea’s evolving threats and other regional challenges.
The four-day trip will be the first state visit hosted by Britain since the coronation of King Charles, and comes as North Korea appears to be making final preparations for another attempt at launching its first spy satellite. In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, Yoon said the wars in Ukraine and in Gaza, coupled with growing Russia-North Korea ties and tensions in the South China Sea, had compelled him to seek “very close security cooperation” with the West.
During his visit, Yoon will be greeted with plenty of pomp and ceremony. He will receive a guard of honour and ride in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, according to the palace. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday and adopt an accord on expanding a bilateral partnership.
Yoon has expressed hope for deeper cooperation with Britain on an “array of geopolitical risks,” including supply chains and energy security. The two countries have more room to cooperate on the economic front, as bilateral trade was worth $12.1 billion last year, fifth among European countries.
After his visit to Britain, Yoon will head to France for a trip aimed at bolstering support for South Korea’s hosting of the 2030 World Expo. The expo host is expected to be decided this month by a vote of member states of the International Bureau of Expositions, whose headquarters is in Paris.