President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea is currently on a three-day state visit to the UK, where he will focus on strengthening trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit holds particular importance for Britain as it aims to solidify its “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy.
During his stay, Yoon will be treated with various forms of ceremonial and diplomatic treatment, 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, during which the two countries will officially launch discussions on an “upgraded” free trade agreement.
Since leaving the EU in 2020, the UK has been actively pursuing trade talks with multiple countries. While agreements have been finalized only with Australia and New Zealand so far, the two leaders are expected to sign an agreement covering cooperation in defense and technology, including artificial intelligence. Additionally, the UK plans to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components. The two countries will also boost defense cooperation by engaging in joint naval patrols to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
The agreements made during Yoon’s visit are expected to drive investment, boost trade, and build a long-term friendship between the UK and South Korea.