President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea is currently in the United Kingdom for a three-day state visit, which aims to strengthen trade and defense ties between the two countries. This visit is of particular importance to Britain as it hopes to solidify its “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy.
During his visit, Yoon will be treated with various ceremonial and diplomatic honors, including a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, a speech to Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on trade, technology, and defense, with the two countries officially launching discussions on an “upgraded” free trade agreement.
Since leaving the European Union in 2020, the United Kingdom has been actively pursuing trade talks with multiple countries. While agreements have been finalized only with Australia and New Zealand thus far, the U.K. plans to sign an agreement covering cooperation in defense and technology, including artificial intelligence. The country also plans to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components.
In addition to these agreements, the two countries will boost defense cooperation by jointly patrolling their respective waters to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea. These measures are expected to drive investment, boost trade, and build a long-term friendship between the U.K. and South Korea.
Overall, Yoon’s visit marks an important step in strengthening relations between South Korea and Britain as both nations work towards building a more robust economic partnership while promoting peace and security in East Asia.