From Shakespeare to K-pop, Yoon and King Charles celebrate partnership in state banquet Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, accompanied by first lady Kim Keon Hee, and Britain’s King Charles III, center left, with Queen Camilla enter the ballroom for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in central London on Tuesday evening. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] President Yoon Suk Yeol and King Charles III highlighted the two countries’ strengthened strategic partnership and global soft power reach on multiple occasions during the Korean leader’s state visit to Britain. King Charles, in his speech at a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday, paid homage to a revered Korean independence fighter poet and K-pop, while Yoon quoted William Shakespeare and shared his decades-long love for British bands, including the Beatles and Queen. “It is probably artistic creativity which has brought about the most dramatic shift in Korea’s place in the British cultural landscape,” the king said. “Korea has matched Danny Boyle with Bong Joon-ho, James Bond with Squid Game, and the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ with BTS’s ‘Dynamite.'” His remarks highlighted Korea and Britain’s popular culture, referring to famous directors, entertainment and music from the two countries that have taken the world by storm. Charles also highlighted Korea’s strategic role as a “bastion of democracy, human rights and freedom.” Topping a day filled with pomp and ceremony, the dinner banquet was attended by more than 170 people from both countries, including Korean business leaders and all four members of K-pop group Blackpink. Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin were among the Korean guests, while British attendees included Prince William and Catherine of Wales and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee are Britain’s first state guests since the king’s coronation in May, as Korea and Britain mark 140 years of bilateral ties that date back to an 1883 Joseon-era commerce and navigation treaty. “Korea and Britain are comrades who shared blood to protect freedom,” Yoon said in his banquet speech. “That is why there’s nothing we can’t do together for the future.” Charles praised the Korean younger generation’s commitment to environmental issues and acknowledged each of the four members of Blackpink attending the banquet by name. “I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, better known collectively as Blackpink, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as ambassadors for the U.K.’s presidency of COP26, and later as advocates for the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the king said. COP26 refers to the UN Climate Change Conference. Charles also gave a nod to K-pop singer Psy as he referred to his 1992 visit to Seoul and said he sadly didn’t pick up “much of what might be called the ‘Gangnam Style!'” Members of K-pop girl group Blackpink head into the state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday, celebrating the state visit to Britain by President Yoon Suk Yeol. [AP/YONHAP] President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, listens to King Charles III speak at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday. [AP/YONHAP] Yoon, in turn, relayed his love for the Beatles, Queen and Elton John during his school days, though he didn’t share his crooning abilities this time around, unlike his U.S. state banquet in April. The king recited an English-translated passage from “The Wind Blows” by Korean poet Yun Dong-ju (1917-1945): “While the wind keeps blowing; My feet stand upon a rock. While the river keeps flowing; My feet stand upon a hill.” Yun, who died in prison in Japan at the age of 27, was known for his poetry dedicated to the Korean independence movement during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule. “Korea’s preservation of its sense of self, amid bewildering change, was perhaps what the poet Yun Dong-ju, who so tragically died in captivity on the very eve of Korea’s liberation, anticipated,” Charles said about the passage. “To me, fair friend, the United Kingdom, you never can be old,” Yoon said in homage to a sonnet by Shakespeare, not even his first time quoting the British playwright that day. Related Article Yoon hearkens to Churchill, Shakespeare and Beckham in address to British Parliament Korean president gets a royal welcome during state visit to Britain Yoon’s state visit a ‘crowning moment’ in thriving Korea-U.K. ties At the banquet, Yoon emphasized the endless potential for future cooperation between the two countries. He said that Korea would continue to cooperate for “global freedom, peace and prosperity with Britain, which has led the liberal democratic political system based on the universal values of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law,” the presidential office said in a statement Wednesday. He added that Korea has become a powerhouse of cutting-edge science, technology and IT and is leading the international community’s discussions on AI and digital norms. Yoon pointed out that the “significant” cultural cooperation between the two countries resounds with youths worldwide, best exemplified by the 2021 song “My Universe,” a collaboration between Korea’s BTS and Britain’s Coldplay. For the glamorous white-tie affair, first lady Kim was decked out in a floor-length long-sleeved black gown with silver accents, while Yoon wore a black tuxedo. The queen was in a crimson gown, and Kate Middleton in ivory, both wearing tiaras. The banquet was described by BBC as an “opulent” occasion, using a 19th-century dinner service with more than 4,000 pieces. Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee, left, stand with Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla, center, along with Prince William and Princess Catherine of, right, during a ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade in central London on Tuesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, and King Charles III arrive by carriage at Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday following a welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] Earlier that morning, Yoon and Kim received a ceremonial welcome from King Charles and Queen Camilla at Horse Guards Parade featuring a 41-gun salute and a review of the Guard of Honor. The red-carpet welcome included a royal carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, where the king hosted a private lunch, and the two couples exchanged gifts and viewed an exhibition of Korea-related items from the Royal Collection. Yoon and Kim took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Korean War Memorial to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. They also visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, 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 later gave an English-language address to both houses of the British Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, the first time a Korean leader had 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. On a lighter note, Yoon referred to famous musicians, cultural phenomena and football players from each country. “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 BTS, Black Pink, Squid Game and Son Heung-min’s right foot.” Honoring Britain’s contributions to Korea’s freedom and development, Yoon recollected that the United Kingdom sent 80,000 troops to defend South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. During his speech, Yoon quoted former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill as saying, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” He said Korea and the United Kingdom are “authors of dynamic and creative histories” and “must stand in solidarity and respond to many of the world’s challenges.” He concluded with a line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” saying, “For this friendship may so happy prove, to turn our challenges to pure opportunity.” On Wednesday, Yoon will have a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Sunak, an occasion to sign the “Downing Street Accord” to elevate relations to a “global strategic partnership.” He will conclude his four-day visit to Britain Thursday with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, where Churchill commanded World War II, and bid farewell to the king at the palace before heading to France. Britain’s King Charles, right, with Queen Camilla, shows President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and first lady Kim Keon Hee, center left, a display of Korean items from the Royal Collection inside Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday. [AP/YONHAP] King Charles III speaks at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London Tuesday, for a state visit to Britain by President Yoon Suk Yeol. [AP/YONHAP] BY SARAH KIM []

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