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Yoon delays trips to Germany, Denmark

Presidential office dismisses report on potential Yoon-Kishida meeting in Seoul in March

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : Feb. 14, 2024 - 15:33

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a government-public debate to discuss ways to improve people's livelihoods through balanced regional development at City Hall in the southeastern port city of Busan on Tuesday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a government-public debate to discuss ways to improve people's livelihoods through balanced regional development at City Hall in the southeastern port city of Busan on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has postponed his scheduled overseas trip to Germany and Denmark, according to Yoon's office on Wednesday.

The presidential office had initially prepared for a week-long trip to the two European countries beginning on Sunday. Detailed schedules were being coordinated with each country.

However, after careful consideration, the presidential office has reportedly decided to postpone the trip.

Yoon's office, however, did not provide further details or reasons behind the last minute postponement.

Yoon's sudden postponement came amid his administration facing escalating domestic pressures, including staunch opposition from medical associations to the government's proposal for expanding medical school quotas and the controversy surrounding graft allegation involving first lady Kim Keon Hee.

Some political commentators here say that if Yoon's visit had proceeded as planned, considerable attention would have been directed toward whether first lady would have accompanied Yoon, particularly in light of the scandal surrounding her allegedly accepting a Dior bag from a Korean American pastor who approached her citing his acquaintances with her late father.

With legislative elections being set for April, considered as a litmus test for the Yoon administration, the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea has also been criticizing the expenses linked to Yoon's overseas trips.

The presidential office also dismissed a report by Japanese media regarding a potential meeting between Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida next month.

"There are currently no developments regarding this matter," an official at the presidential office said on condition of anonymity.

Fuji Television Network on Wednesday reported that Yoon and Kishida might meet for another in-person summit in Seoul in March.

Kishida is reviewing a plan to have his trip coincide with the Major League Baseball season-opening games scheduled for March 20 and 21 in Seoul, according to the Japanese broadcaster. The timing aligns with the potential presence of Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani at the event.

A resumption of "shuttle diplomacy" was agreed upon by the South Korean and Japanese leaders, with Yoon's visit to Tokyo in March last year, followed by Kishida's visit to Seoul in May of the same year.

Last year, the leaders of South Korea and Japan engaged in a total of seven summit meetings, which included reciprocal visits to each other's countries.