• Associated Press

King Charles III Honors K-pop Girl Group Blackpink during South Korean President’s State Visit

Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP
South Korean girl band Blackpink ahead of the State Banquet, for the state visit to the UK by President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee, at Buckingham Palace, London, Nov. 21, 2023.

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III honored the K-pop band Blackpink on Wednesday for their work in raising awareness about climate change, as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged closer cooperation between their two countries on technology and defense.

On the second day of Yoon’s three-day state visit to London, Charles made Blackpink members Jennie Kim, Jisoo Kim and Lalisa Manoban honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire.

Bandmate Roseanne (Rosé) Park also received an MBE, though hers came without the “honorary” qualifier because she has dual citizenship in New Zealand, one of the 14 countries where the U.K. monarch is head of state.

The honors were presented during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in recognition of Blackpink’s role in promoting the work of the COP26 summit on climate change two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland. The awards are part of Britain’s honors system, which recognizes outstanding service to the nation and the wider world.

Charles had lauded the K-pop girl group on Tuesday during a state banquet in honor of Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee “for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience.

I can only admire how they can prioritize these vital issues, as well as being global superstars, Charles said at the banquet.

The Korean president is being treated to royal and diplomatic pomp on the visit, which the U.K. government hopes will help cement an ” Indo-Pacific tilt ” in its foreign and trade policy.

Yoon met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the British leader’s 10 Downing St. residence for talks focused on trade, technology and defense.

To coincide with the visit, U.K. and Korean officials launched talks on an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace their current deal, which largely replicates the arrangements the U.K. had before it left the European Union.

The leaders also signed an agreement dubbed the “Downing Street Accord” pledging closer cooperation on defense and technology, including artificial intelligence. Britain hosted the first international AI Safety Summit this month, and South Korea intends to hold a follow-up event next year.

The two countries also agreed joint naval patrols to curb smuggling and to enforce U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea to curb its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Your state visit underlies the deep partnership and friendship between our two countries and the signing of the Downing Street Accord today strengthens that friendship, Sunak told the Korean leader.

Yoon has not commented directly on North Korea’s launch of a spy satellite on Tuesday. or its suspected failed missile test on Wednesday, both of which took place while he was in London.

In a speech to both houses of Britain’s Parliament on Tuesday, Yoon said Britain and South Korea would work together on “geopolitical risks like the war in Ukraine, the Israel and Hamas conflict, and the North Korean nuclear threats.”

Korea stands united with the United Kingdom and the international community to fight against illegal aggression and provocations, he said.