South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol embarks on a state visit to Britain on Monday, hoping to strengthen economic ties and enhance security partnerships with the UK to counter 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 preparing for another attempt at launching its first spy satellite.
In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, Yoon said that the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, as well as growing Russia-North Korea ties and tensions in the South China Sea, had prompted him to seek “very close security cooperation” with the West. The president will be greeted with plenty of pomp and ceremony during his visit. He will receive a guard of honor and ride in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace before holding talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday. They will adopt an accord on expanding their bilateral partnership.
Yoon expressed hope for deeper cooperation with Britain on a range of geopolitical risks, including supply chains and energy security. The two countries have significant room for cooperation on the economic front, as bilateral trade was worth $12.1 billion last year, fifth among European countries. Yoon’s visit follows his return from the APEC summit in San Francisco where he called for coordinated action against growing military ties between North Korea and Russia.
The president’s visit also includes a trip to France 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.