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South Korean President to make state visit to UK

Published September 26, 2023 Updated September 26, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

LONDON — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will make a state visit to Britain in November after accepting an invitation from King Charles III, Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday (Sept 26).

Mr Yoon will be only the second foreign leader to make a state visit to the United Kingdom since King Charles became monarch in September last year, following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the first, last November.

King Charles, 74, and 76-year-old Queen Camilla will host Mr Yoon, 62, and his wife Kim Keon Hee, 51, at Buckingham Palace. No date has been given yet for the visit.

The South Korean leader garnered global attention in April during a week-long state visit to the United States (US), when he surprised guests with a rendition of his favourite song, “American Pie”.

The impromptu singing performance occurred at a White House dinner, after a request by US President Joe Biden.

However, a repeat in London is seen as unlikely. State banquets in Buckingham Palace’s grand ballroom are typically more sedate affairs, with speeches and toasts alongside a formal dinner.

A string orchestra usually provides the musical backdrop to such events, which are normally attended by more than 160 guests.

King Charles and Mr Yoon met previously at the reception for heads of state and official overseas guests at the palace on the eve of his late mother’s funeral.

The South Korean president, a conservative, was accused by opponents of being disrespectful during the visit, after missing the opportunity to view her coffin lying in state. 

He blamed that on heavy traffic.

He also courted controversy last year after being caught on a microphone swearing and making disparaging comments about US lawmakers after a chat with Mr Biden at the United Nations General Assembly. 

The footage went viral in South Korea.

Mr Yoon, who narrowly won power in a presidential election in March last year, is constitutionally prohibited from serving more than a single term, which ends in 2027. AFP

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