South Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit Mongolia today to discuss their strategic partnership. The three-day trip is the
South Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit Mongolia today to discuss their strategic partnership.
The three-day trip is the first by a South Korean foreign minister since 2014. Bilateral relations improved last year, under the Moon Jae-in administration, culminating in a strategic partnership between the two countries.
Seoul is currently UlaanBaatar’s fourth biggest trade partner and aspires to become the third largest. While economic ties might strengthen, diplomatic cooperation will likely prove more difficult. The Yoon administration’s approach to North Korea differs greatly from that of Mongolia. Yoon favors a tougher stance and no real engagement unless Pyongyang agrees to denuclearization in exchange for economic aid. For his part, Mongolian counterpart Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh favors the traditional post-Soviet Mongolian policy of balancing North and South Korean relations. This means full engagement and mediation in a bid to denuclearize Pyongyang. Indeed, this engagement has an economic incentive, with land-locked Mongolia relying on North Korean ports to balance a traditional dependence on Chinese ports for its economic well-being.
Parameters of the strategic partnership may coalesce around economic cooperation with Korean investment particularly focused on areas such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals in Mongolia’s post-Covid recovery. This is likely a far less ambitious scope than originally envisioned last year.