It is often said of diplomats that they are exceptional bridge-builders, and that is certainly the case for Soongu Yoon. He has done more than anyone to step up relations between Korea and the European Union in areas such as climate, the green energy transition, digitalisation, science and health, and particularly in peace and security. It is for these societal efforts, as well as for his commitment to encouraging scientific research into relations between the EU and Korea and to support the KF-VUB Korea research chair, that the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has decided to award him an honorary doctorate. This is a particularly fitting tribute in the context of the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the EU and Korea, in which Yoon has played a crucial role.
As ambassador, Yoon has played an exceptional role in recent years in strengthening links between South Korea and the EU. He has concluded three major treaties, promoted the signing of several International Labour Organisation conventions and the EU’s GDPR legislation, as well as facilitating the annual EU-Korea Summits. He has been a driving force behind Korea’s involvement in the EU commitment to a carbon-neutral society by 2050, and has actively worked on collaborations with the EU on health, green and digital policies. Additionally, he has contributed to structural relations with NATO.
Key link at Belgian level
Yoon has had a remarkable impact at both national and international level. He coordinated the celebrations of 120 years of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Korea, honoured the Belgian soldiers who fought in the Korean War and played an important role in promoting Korean culture in Belgium.
Facilitator of research into EU-Korea relations
Yoon has also been closely involved in research into EU-Korea relations. The Korean embassy made an essential contribution to the success of the prestigious EU in International Affairs Conference, organised by the Institute for European Studies alongside the Université libre de Bruxelles, UNU-CRIS, Warwick University and the Egmont Institute. Since 2021, the embassy has supported the organisation of the annual Brussels Forum, an event that brings together Korean and European academics to promote dialogue and collaboration.
Via the KF-VUB Korea Chair, numerous scientific seminars, conferences and meetings are held each year, in which peace, security and sustainability are central and the role of the EU and Korea are explored. The chair therefore plays a crucial role in promoting research and dialogue about EU-Korea relations and contributes to strengthening links between Korea and the EU on an academic level. While similar chairs exist in the US, this is the only one of its kind in Europe, underlining the importance of VUB in the region.
The chair is held by Prof Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, of King’s College London, under the supervision of Prof Dr Luis Simon.
The presentation of the honorary doctorate to Soongu Yoon followed by a lecture will take place on Thursday 26 October at 16.00 in the U-Residence, Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussels.
We are pleased to invite journalists to attend the ceremony and lecture, as a unique opportunity to meet Soongu Yoon.
Would you like to attend? Please confirm your presence via [email protected]