Yoon harkens to Churchill, Shakespeare and Beckham in address to British Parliament President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, gives an English-language address to both houses of the British Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London Tuesday during his state visit to Britain. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] If Britain produced top football player David Beckham and iconic musicians like The Beatles, Korea has Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and K-pop boy band BTS, President Yoon Suk Yeol said in his address to British Parliament Tuesday. Yoon appealed to strengthening both strategic and soft power cooperation between the two countries in an English-language address to members of both houses at the Palace of Westminster in London, the first time a Korean leader has spoken there in a decade. “Korea will work with the United Kingdom to bolster the political and economic security in the Indo-Pacific region,” Yoon said during his state visit to Britain to mark the 140th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations this year. He addressed geopolitical risks like the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict and North Korean nuclear threats which imperil unity of the international community, pointing out that “one country alone cannot defend peace.” “Korea stands united with the United Kingdom and the international community to fight against illegal aggression and provocations,” Yoon said. “We will uphold established norms and international order.” On a lighter note, Yoon referred to popular musicians, entertainment and football players from each country, noting that the two countries “share our charm in culture and arts.” “The United Kingdom is the country of the Beatles, Queen, Harry Potter and David Beckham’s right foot,” Yoon said. “Korea is the country of the BTS, Black Pink, Squid Game and Son Heung-min’s right foot.” The remark earned chuckles from British lawmakers. The two countries’ diplomatic relations date back to the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1883. Honoring Britain’s contributions to Korea’s development, Yoon recollected that the United Kingdom sent 80,000 troops to defend South Korea during the Korean War, becoming the second-largest sending state. More than 1,000 British troops died. After the war, Britain contributed more than $26 million to the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency and supported the establishment of Ulsan shipyard, Gori nuclear power plant and Ulsan Institute of Technology. He noted that Britain, as the second-largest contributor, helped Korea lay the foundation as an emerging industrial country and transform from a recipient of aid to becoming the “only nation in modern history to become a donor.” President Yoon Suk Yeol gives an English-language address to both houses of the British Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London Tuesday during his state visit to Britain. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] Yoon said that he and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will sign the “Downing Street Accord” in their bilateral summit Wednesday so that the two countries relationship will be reborn as true “global strategic partners.” He said Korea and Britain will “build a free and open international order” and “cultivate sustainable growth and prosperity for all of humanity.” Yoon said that Korea and Britain are also “building new mechanisms for intelligence sharing and cybersecurity cooperation,” recalling that U.K. forces participated in a South Korea-U.S. combined exercise for the first time last spring. The two countries plan to tackle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats together. Related Article Korea, U.K. to sign ‘Downing Street’ accord establishing ‘global strategic partnership’ Yoon’s state visit a ‘crowning moment’ in thriving Korea-U.K. ties Korean president gets a royal welcome during state visit to Britain Their cooperation will further be broadened to digital, AI, cybersecurity, nuclear energy and defense industry and also include bio, outer space, semiconductors, offshore wind, green energy and the maritime sectors. Yoon said the two countries will seek ways to utilize nuclear power and other clean energy sources and assist countries most affected by climate change in their efforts for a green transition. Noting that the new digital age presents new challenges to freedom and democracy, Yoon highlighted that “AI and digital technology must serve to enhance freedom and well-being.” The visit will also be an opportunity to update the Korea-U.K free trade agreement which took effect in 2021 after being hastily implemented following Brexit. “We will begin negotiations to modernize the FTA to strengthen cooperation on supply chains and digital trade,” Yoon said. He said that Korea and the United Kingdom are “authors of dynamic and creative histories” and therefore “must stand in solidarity and respond to many of the world’s challenges.” Yoon credited Britain as giving birth to modern parliamentary democracy and opening the era of global market economy. During his speech, Yoon quoted former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill as saying, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” On Thursday, Yoon will visit the Churchill War Rooms, where Churchill commanded World War II. Yoon said that Korea and its “innovative partner” Britain “will join hands to promote freedom, peace and prosperity for the international community” and “contribute to a better future for humanity.” Yoon concluded with a quote from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “For this friendship may so happy prove, to turn our challenges to pure opportunity.” Also in attendance was Colin Thackery, winner of “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2019 and a 1950-53 Korean War veteran and Seoul’s honorary veterans minister. He visited Busan in July and sang in a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement. During her state visit in 2013, then-President Park Geun-hye gave an English-language address to the British Parliament, calling on the two countries to develop new engines for economic growth. Yoon arrived in Britain on Monday for a four-day state visit at the invitation of King Charles II as a part of a two-country Europe trip that will take them to France later this week. BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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