From 24 March to 28 March, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were on a state visit to South Korea. While they had a busy schedule together on the first two days of the tour, they had a separate agenda for most of their third day in the country. Queen Mathilde’s programme focused on sustainable development.
She first attended the ‘Innovative solutions for the circular economy, sustainable mobility and climate change’ seminar that was held on the UGent Campus in Icheon. There, she met with former Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek. In 2016, Ban Ki-Moon appointed Queen Mathilde as a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.
Afterwards, Queen Mathilde visited the Smart City Operation Centre in Icheon which is the first smart city of South Korea before getting back to Seoul. There she visited UNICEF Korea’s headquarters and met with children to talk about sustainable development. The conversation focused on how they see their future and how they want to contribute to achieving the SDGs. Queen Mathilde is Patron of UNICEF Belgium.
In the evening, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde reunited to host a concert and a reception for the President of South Korea and his wife. The concert was performed by three former laureates of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. The next day, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde spent their final hours in South Korea visiting the Jeon Jin Sang Medical Centre which was founded by Dr Marie-Helene Brasseur who is from Belgium in 1975. They also opened the Belgian Life Festival before splitting again for the last events of the state visit. King Philippe attended an investment lunch with Korean and Belgian investors while Queen Mathilde participated in a lunch on mental health at the Jingwansa Temple.
It was then time to leave South Korea to go back to Belgium. Upon their departure, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde thanked their South Korean hosts: “We are very grateful to the authorities and the people of the Republic of Korea for the warm welcome and the excellent organisation of this state visit!”