ROK delegation visit highlights common areas for mutual engagement on key emerging issues
BGIPU was delighted to host a reciprocal visit from Members of the Republic of Korea’s National Assembly on Wednesday 14 June, following a successful visit to Seoul last year. The visit was led by former Minister for the Environment, Hon. Jeoungae Han, who played a key role in hosting the BGIPU delegation in Seoul in 2022. She was joined by colleagues from the National Assembly, including Hon. Iljong Sung, Hon. Oseop Jo and Hon. Youngpyo Hong. The delegation included members from both opposition and governing parties in the National Assembly which allowed for fruitful discussion throughout the day. The visit was supported by Ambassador H.E. Yoon Yeocheol and his brilliant team from the Korean Embassy in London.
The day kicked off with a tour of parliament with Sir Chris Bryant MP during which the delegation learnt about the history of Westminster and gained key insights into the shaping of the Westminster system as we know it today. This was followed by the first official meeting of the day with Members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. The delegation was pleased to hear the thoughts of Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and the committee clerk, as they shared an engaging discussion around the work of both the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the International Monetary Fund’s parliamentary body, which is headed up by Mr Byrne. This exchange allowed the delegation to get to grips with some of the UK’s most challenging international engagements, as well as areas of common concern such as the situation in Ukraine. The committee was also keen to understand more about the current geopolitical situation in East Asia and learn about how it balances its relationships with its neighbours whilst continuing to be a key trading partner of the US.
Following this, the delegation met with the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Republic of Korea, Sir Edward Davey MP. Sir Edward has led the Korea APPG for several years, with strong connections to the country through the large Korean diaspora in his constituency. After enjoying another lively session of Prime Minister’s Question time, the delegation was hosted in Peers Dining Room by Lord Rogan and colleagues. This lunch provided an opportunity for 3 of the Members who had travelled to Seoul last year, Lord Rogan, Harriett Baldwin MP and Zarah Sultana MP to further develop the ties built through the previous exchange. The group was also joined by Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, the trade envoy for Korea, and long-standing expert on East Asia, Baroness Hooper CMG. This made for excellent conversation and helped to further build on the strong connections between UK parliamentarians and members of the Korean National Assembly.
The delegation then met the chair of the newly formed Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, Angus MacNeill MP, and Committee Clerk, Stephen McGuiness. One of the main aims of the Korean delegation’s visit was to learn more about the UK’s renewable energy industry, in particular the development of offshore wind power. The Korean government is pursuing a “Green New Deal” in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a key part of this is the installation of floating offshore wind systems by 2025. From here, sticking with the theme of climate change, the delegation met with members of Peers for the Planet. The meeting was hosted by Baroness Hayman, who was joined by Lord Jay of Ewelme, Lord McDonald of Salford and Baroness Sheehan. This provided a great opportunity for the delegation to explore another parliamentary model whereby parliamentarians are able to hold the government to account on, and promote, climate change policies.
The final order of the day was an official dinner at the oldest restaurant in London, Rules, hosted by the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Nigel Evans MP. Nigel was joined by BGIPU Executive Committee members, Rt Hon Baroness D’Souza CMG and Rt Hon Lord Dholakia OBE DL, along with Sir Mark Hendrick MP and Shadow Foreign Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Catherine West MP. Delegates were treated to a traditional British meal and discussion flowed around topics of common interest that bring our two countries together, such as sport, music and TV. There were also discussions about the international order and they looked at key areas the two countries could support each other and improve the already dynamic and flourishing relationship.