President Yoon Suk Yeol boards Air Force One at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam near Seoul on Monday morning. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol kicked off a weeklong trip on Monday that will first take him to the United Kingdom for a state visit and then onwards to France for a final diplomatic campaign to bring the 2030 World Expo to Busan.
Yoon boarded Air Force One at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam near Seoul on Monday morning, where he received a send-off from Kim Gi-hyeon, the leader of the ruling People Power Party, Yun Jae-ok, the floor leader of the party, Lee Sang-min, Minister of the Interior and Safety, and Lee Jin-bok, the senior presidential secretary for political affairs.
Yoon is the first foreign head of state to make a state visit to the U.K. since the coronation of King Charles III and his visit is the first by a Korean president to the country since former President Park Geun-hye’s visit a decade ago in 2013. This year is also the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
On his first day in the U.K. on Monday, Yoon will meet with the Korean community, and is scheduled to deliver a speech in English before Parliament on Tuesday. This will be the second time Yoon addresses a foreign parliament in a foreign language, following his speech at a joint session of U.S. Congress during his state visit to the country in April 2023. There will also be a welcome luncheon hosted by King Charles III and a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
On Wednesday, Yoon will hold a summit meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, where the leaders will discuss cooperation in various fields such as digital technology, artificial intelligence (AI), nuclear power, defense, biotechnology, space, and semiconductors.
In an interview with the UK daily The Telegraph published on Monday, Yoon said, “The fact that the Republic of Korea is the first country to receive a state invitation from the U.K. after the coronation of King Charles III reflects the significance and necessity the U.K. places on cooperation with Korea in the Indo-Pacific region and on the global stage,” and further expressed his intention to strengthen future-oriented cooperation. “During this visit, the two countries will develop future-oriented cooperation in various fields, including politics, economy, advanced science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges, and strengthen cooperative partnerships in fields such as digital technology, AI, cybersecurity, nuclear power, defense, bio, space, semiconductors, offshore wind power, clean energy, and maritime affairs.”
Yoon will travel to Paris, France, on Thursday, where he will stay until Saturday, engaging in diplomatic activities for Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo. Planned events include luncheon and dinner events with representatives from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the body in charge of overseeing the World Expo.
By Woo Je-yoon and Yoon Yeon-hae
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