South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol heads to Britain on Monday for a state visit, hoping to boost economic ties and enhance security partnerships to counter North Korea’s evolving threats and other regional challenges. The 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. Yoon’s spokesperson Lee Do-woon said that the two countries have more room to cooperate on the economic front, noting that bilateral trade was worth $12.1 billion last year, fifth among European countries.
During his visit, Yoon will meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and adopt an accord on expanding a bilateral partnership. He will also hold talks on deepening cooperation with Britain on an “array of geopolitical risks,” including supply chains and energy security. In addition to his meetings with British leaders, Yoon will also receive a guard of honor and ride in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace before heading to France for another visit 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, which has its headquarters in Paris. The trip marks another opportunity for Yoon to strengthen South Korea’s relationships with key global players as he continues his efforts to promote peace and stability in East Asia.