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South Korean minister commences Southeast Asian tour


South Korean minister commences Southeast Asian tour

Seoul Palace bundo kim unsplash
Photo: Bundo Kim

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gunn will today begin a week-long diplomatic tour to Southeast Asia, starting in Singapore and wrapping up in Indonesia, focused on improving bilateral ties.

South Korea’s in-person diplomacy and its New Southern Policy (NSP) is focused on bolstering economic, cultural, diplomatic and security ties with Southeast Asia and India. The policy was announced in 2017, in the midst of China’s economic boycott of South Korean products. NSP offers Seoul and ASEAN an opportunity to diversify their foreign policy strategies, reduce the risks of Chinese economic coercion and cushion the affect of US-China trade friction. Kim’s visit will allow South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia to deepen ties in a framework that is distinct from the Indo-Pacific strategies of the US, China and Japan.

As South Korea moves towards greater reliance on ASEAN’s export market, expect Kim’s visit to successfully push forward pragmatic economic and political cooperation. Seoul can be expected to continue taking a leadership role in brokering closer alliance with ASEAN. With regional tensions on the rise, and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s concerns about conflict with North Korea, security cooperation with Southeast Asia may also be a long-term focus.

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