The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is awarding an honorary doctorate to Soongu Yoon, ambassador of the Korean Republic to Belgium and the EU. The award is in recognition of his role as an important bridge builder between the European Union and Korea on societal themes such as climate, green energy transition, science, digitalisation, peace and security. He is also closely involved in research into relations between the EU and Korea and supports the KF-VUB Korea research chair. 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.
This honorary doctorate is a token of our appreciation and friendship. It is recognition of the contributions of Ambassador Yoon to relations between the EU and Korea and between Belgium and Korea, as well as VUB’s role as a centre of excellence on Korea. It has been a privilege to work with Ambassador Yoon and we look forward to continuing to do so,” says Karel De Gucht, president of the Brussels School of Governance.