President Yoon Suk Yeol
President Yoon Suk Yeol is on a six-day state visit to the United States, where he and his counterpart Joe Biden discussed ramping up the US security shield for South Korea. AFP / Jim WATSON


  • The Washington Declaration includes a manifesto that ROK will not pursue nuclear weapons on its own
  • Yoon is only the second global leader to pay a formal state visit to the Biden White House
  • Angelina Jolie, Broadway stars and bigtime Korean business leaders attended the state dinner

The White House hailed the "historic" alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) during the summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol Wednesday, marking only the second state visit of a global leader to the U.S. during the Biden administration.

"To commemorate this historic year for our Alliance, President Biden and President Yoon have committed to develop an ever-stronger mutual defense relationship and affirm in the strongest words possible their commitment to the combined defense posture under the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty," the White House said in a press release.

Wednesday's meeting between the two leaders marked the 70th anniversary of South Korea's alliance with the world's largest economy and also unveiled a new key agreement between the allies called the Washington Declaration.

"What began as a security partnership has grown and expanded into a truly global Alliance that champions democratic principles, enriches economic cooperation and drives technological advancements," the U.S. government said.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to engage in decision-making measures focused on nuclear deterrence and information sharing in consideration of the "growing nuclear threats to the ROK and the region."

The Washington Declaration also included a proclamation that renewed the South Korean government's pledge that it will not pursue nuclear weapons of its own, Reuters reported.

For his part in the summit, Yoon said the two nations agreed to "immediate bilateral presidential consultations in the event of North Korea's nuclear attack."

Yoon's statement came as opinion polls suggested that a majority of South Koreans want their government to acquire the country's own nuclear bombs, according to Reuters.

Biden clarified that no American nuclear weapons will be stationed across the Korean peninsula under the agreement. Instead, the U.S. will implement port visits as a show of closer cooperation and consultation, CNN reported.

Under the Washington Declaration, the U.S. promises to provide Seoul with detailed information and insights as well as a central role in White House contingency planning to deter and respond to nuclear attacks by North Korea, U.S. officials said, as per Reuters.

Ahead of the Biden-Yoon summit, an official said the U.S. will deploy a nuclear ballistic submarine visit to the ROK, as the Biden government aims to be "more visible" in the deployment of "strategic assets" to its allied nation.

Yoon's visit to Washington came months after that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who paid a visit to the White House last year, marking the first formal visit of a global leader to the country under the Biden administration.

The White House noted at the time that Macron getting the honor of becoming the first state visitor during the Biden administration was due to the French leader's "longevity in the job" and his involvement in global affairs, particularly in G7 matters.

Meanwhile, Biden's welcoming of Yoon largely leaned on fears of a North Korean nuclear attack against its neighbor. Biden reaffirmed his government's support to the Korean people during the Wednesday summit, saying the U.S.' commitment to the ROK was "enduring and ironclad."

Celebrities, influential people and performers graced Wednesday's state dinner that welcomed Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon-hee, to the White House.

Among the influential names who attended the dinner were Angelina Jolie, who was accompanied by her son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt; Olympian Chloe Kim; interior design TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines and Broadway star Norm Lewis, The Hill reported.

Actress and singer Lea Salonga was also present at the state dinner, as well as Broadway singer Jessica Vosk, along with more than 180 individuals in various sectors such as business, sports and entertainment.

South Korean business leaders from Hyundai Motor Co., LG Corp. and Samsung were also invited to the event, according to Bloomberg.

Earlier in the day, children donning traditional Korean clothing sang while waiting for the arrival of the two leaders at the South Lawn of the White House, as seen in photos obtained by The Korea Times that highlighted the welcoming parade for Yoon.

One photo reportedly showed the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps marching past Biden and Yoon, who watched the procession on a stage.

The photos also showed U.S. First Lady Jill Biden and ROK First Lady Kim standing side-by-side during the official State Arrival Ceremony.

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden receive South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keo at the White House
The Biden administration welcomed South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol Wednesday with a parade, an official ceremony and a state dinner. Reuters