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Information on the Region
The ROK-Japan Relations
- The Republic of Korea and Japan are close neighboring countries with a rich tradition of exchanges and cooperation, and are important partners that share similar values and interests. The Korean Government has adopted a two-track approach in its relations with Japan, continuing cooperation in strategic and mutually beneficial fields such as the North Korean nuclear issue, economy and culture while taking a firm stance on history issues.
- As of 2016, the trade volume between the ROK and Japan amounted to $718 billion and people-to-people exchanges reached 7.4 million. High-level exchanges also continued, and two bilateral Summits and three foreign ministers’ meetings were held in 2016.
- In December 2015, the two countries reached an agreement on the “comfort women” issue. The agreement included the acknowledgement of responsibility on the part of the Japanese Government, expression of apologies and remorse by the Prime Minister of Japan, and the establishment of a mechanism to implement the commitment made by the Japanese Government.
- In the face of enhanced nuclear weapons and missile threats from North Korea that reached unprecedented levels, progress was made also in the field of defense cooperation. In November 2016, the two countries signed an agreement on the protection of classified military information. The agreement will enhance both countries’ abilities to deal with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile threats, and contribute to ROK-US-Japan trilateral cooperation.
- With regard to the Dokdo issue, however, the Korean Government has dealt firmly and resolutely with any claims made by the Japanese Government denying Korean sovereignty over the islets, which have been an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically, and under international law. It is the basic position of the Korean Government that ROK-Japan relations should be based on a correct understanding of history.
o Issue of the Victims of ‘Comfort Women’ by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War
- Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Republic of Korea and Japan at the Joint Press Availability (December 28, 2015)
- Report on the Review of the Korea-Japan Agreement of December 28, 2015 on the Issue of “Comfort Women” Victims (December 27, 2017)
- Announcement of the Republic of Korea’s Position Regarding the ROK-Japan Agreement on the “Comfort Women” Issue (January 9, 2018)
- Statement by Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea at the High-level Segment of the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council (February 26, 2018)
The ROK-China Relations
- Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, the Republic of Korea and China have witnessed a rapid development of their relations in various fields. In just 24 years, the annual trade volume and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries increased about 36 and 80 times respectively. Based on the "Strategic Cooperative Partnership" established through the mutual visits by the two heads of states in 2008, the two countries have been exerting greater effort to enhance their relations, sharing the strategic goal of maintaining peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
- In particular, the two countries have been strengthening political credibility and advancing the "Strategic Cooperative Partnership" by bolstering exchanges between high profile dignitaries. In 2012, five successful summit-level meetings as well as five foreign ministerial dialogues and one vice ministerial strategic talks between the two countries were held. Moreover, as of 2012, China was the ROK's largest trading partner and the ROK was China's third largest trading partner. Cooperation between the two countries in the economic field is expected to strengthen further based on the "Korea-China Economy and Trade Cooperation Vision Report", signed in 2009. Cultural exchanges have also been steadily promoted with the continued spread of the Korean wave(Hallyu) in China and the Chinese wave(Hanfeng) in the ROK. Such cultural exchanges have deepened the mutual understanding that will lay the foundation for future-oriented the ROK-China relations. In June 2013, following the state visit to China by President Park Geun-hye, the two countries adopted the joint statement of future vision for ROK-China relationship, which is expected to serve as a landmark and a blueprint for furthering and developing the strategic partnership. In July 2014, during Chinese President Xi's state visit to the Republic of Korea, the two leaders adopted a joint statement to further enrich the strategic cooperative partnership.
The ROK-Southeast Asia Relations
- ASEAN(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Republic of Korea(ROK) relations have exhibited a remarkable integration and interdependence since the establishment of the Dialogue Partnership in 1989.
- ASEAN-ROK acknowledged the strong momentum of relations particularly since the Special Leaders' Summit held in Seoul in December 2014 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Partnership.
- ASEAN is ROK's second largest trading partner and both sides committed to increase the two-way trade volume to reach USD200 billion by 2020.
- ASEAN has established itself as the top travel destination for Koreans, and become Korea's second largest partner in the areas of trade, investment and overseas construction.
- In addition to the ASEAN-Korea Centre established in Seoul in 2009, the ROK intends to establish an ASEAN Culture House in Busan which would serve to boost bilateral cultural cooperation and people-to-people contact. The plan is to complete the ASEAN Culture House by 2017 to coincide with ASEAN's 50th Anniversary.
- Substantive progress has been made in cooperation projects under the Plan of Action(2011-2015) in areas such as food, agriculture and forestry, infrastructure development, science and technology, health and assisting ASEAN narrow the development gap. A new Plan of Action is being developed for the period 2016-2020 which will provide a comprehensive framework and practical measures to further strengthen the mutually benefical cooperation.
- The next Plan will facilitate and contribute to the next phase of ASEAN's Community-building beyond 2015. The new Plan will place priority on programmes that will have region-wide impacts including development cooperation, narrowing development gap and enhancing regional connectivity.
- The ROK is committed to working together with ASEAN in the ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus and East Asia Summit to promote regional peace and prosperity and shape the future regional architecture. The ROK reaffirmed its support for ASEAN's central role in these regional frameworks. ASEAN acknowledged the active role and contribution of the ROK in promoting EAST Asian integration.
- Our new administration hopes to further strengthen the country's diplomatic relations and to build stronger partnership with ASEAN to the level of those with four global powers under the government of President Moon Jae-in.
- Presidient Moon introduced his plan to establish a so-called "3P Community" that emphasizes people, peace and prosperity during ASEAN Summit In November 2017. It's a 'people community,' where people and people connect heart-to-heart, and a 'peace community' that contributes to peace in Asia through security cooperation, and a 'prosperity community' that thrives through mutually reciprocal economic cooperation. And he pledged to double the Korea-ASEAN cooperation fund to USD 14 million by 2019, and increase the cooperation fund for a Korea- ASEAN FTA so that the volume of trade with ASEAN could reach USD 200 billion by 2020.
The ROK-Southeast Asia Relations
- During the Korean War in 1950, India made its first connection with Korea by dispatching medical support units.
- After the Korean War, relations between Korea and India remained lukewarm, but in December 1973, they established diplomatic relations.
- Since the 1990s, the relationship between Korea and India has shifted from the existing political - diplomatic - oriented relationship to more practical-centered relationship in various fields including trade and investment.
- President Kim Yeong-sam visited India for the first time in 1996 as& the president of the republic of Korea and set up an opportunity to consolidate the real cooperation between the two countries.
- President Roh Moo-hyun paid a state visit to India in 2004, and the leaders of both countries upgraded bilateral relations with 'Long-term Cooperative Partnership for peace and Prosperity.'
- In 2010 President Lee Myung-bak visited India on a state visit to promote bilateral relations as a 'strategic partnership' and to strengthen cooperation in all aspects of bilateral relations including diplomacy, economy, society and culture.
- Through the visit of India's Prime Minister Modi in 2015, bilateral relations have been upgraded to 'special strategic partnership' and agreed to strengthen cooperation in various fields such as manufacturing, ict(information and communications technology), infrastructure, science and technology, and cultural exchanges.
The ROK-SAARC(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Relations
- Saarc is a Regional Cooperation Body designed to strengthen economic, social and cultural exchange cooperation among countries in South Asia.
- * The member countries are India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
- In 2006, South Korea joined the SAARC as an observer, with the aim of complementing bilateral relations with the SAARC member states, and strengthening, cooperation with countries in Southwest Asia.
- In economic perspective, korea's joining the SAARC as an observer was aiming to create a favorable environment for expanding of trade and securing of resources in Southwest Asia, which emerged as the "second largest market" following China.
- Since joining SaarC as an Observer in 2006, Korea has been promoting relations through such activities as attending high-level members of the SAARC Summit, conducting special training programs for SaarC officials with the help of Koica, and hosting annual seminars to seek ways to promote cooperation among SAARC.
- 'ROK- SAARC Partnership Semina'r is held annually in Seoul to seek ways to strengthen cooperation through consultation with the SAARC secretariat staff, SAARC member countries, and their experts.
The ROK-Australia Relations
- ROK-Australia partnership has developed into a quasi-alliance through Australia’s participation in the Korean War, the 54-year-long diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the ROK-Australia FTA, which took effect in December 2014.
- the Second Republic of Korea-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministers’ (2+2) Meeting(2015) was held in Sydney, Australia, on September 11, 2015, and discussed regional situations, issues related to the Korean Peninsula, and ways to enhance defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
- ROK-Australia share the activities of major regional and global cooperative mechanisms in politics, security, defence and economy where the two countries are participating together, including the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM Plus), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the G20.
- In 2016, On the sidelines of the eighth MIKTA Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met bilaterally with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop of Australia on November 25. In their meeting, the two top diplomats discussed in depth ways for the Republic of Korea and Australia to coordinate on North Korean issues; the bilateral political and economic ties; and ways to step up cooperation on regional and global stages.
- In the ROK-Australia Strategic Dialogue 2017, the two countries especially shared the view that North Korea’s reckless provocations, including the North’s continued nuclear and missile tests, and the assassination of Kim Jong-nam with a chemical weapon, pose a direct threat not only to the Korean Peninsula, but to Australia. The two sides also engaged in in-depth discussions on ways to step up cooperation between the two countries on North Korea in order to proactively and effectively respond to North Korea’s provocative acts, which undermine regional stability.
The ROK-New Zealand Relations
- The eleventh meeting of the Joint Economic Commission between the Republic of Korea and New Zealand took place in Wellington, New Zealand, on March 21, 2014.
At the meeting, the two sides hailed the resumption of negotiations on an ROK-New Zealand FTA in February 2014 in nearly four years since their latest round. They shared the view that their bilateral FTA, when concluded, would serve as an important opportunity to greatly deepen their relations in not only trade and investment but also various other sectors.
- On July 9, 2014, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met with his counterpart from New Zealand Murray McCully, who is on a visit to the Republic of Korea on July 9 and 10. In their meeting, the two Ministers discussed in depth ways to work more closely together in a wide range of fields, including politics, economy, trade and the Antarctica, as well as the situations on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
- On the sidelines of the ASEAN-related foreign ministerial meetings 2016 in Vientiane, Laos, from July 24 to 26, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met bilaterally with Foreign Minister Murray McCully of New Zealand in Vientiane on July 25. In their meeting, the two top diplomats exchanged views on major matters of mutual concern, including the Republic of Korea-New Zealand cooperation on political affairs and economy as well as issues concerning the Korean Peninsula.
The ROK-Pacific Island Countries Relations
- The third Korea-Pacific Islands Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) was held in Seoul on October 6, 2015. Director-General for South Asian and Pacific Affairs Kang Young-hoon of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea presided over the meeting, which was attended by senior officials from the 14 Pacific island countries and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat. The meeting came amid the strengthening friendship and substantive cooperation between the ROK and the Pacific island countries (PICs) on the back of ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s visit to Fiji in September, which marked the first of its kind by an ROK Foreign Minister in 44 years since the establishment of the ROK-Fiji diplomatic relations. In the meeting, the ROK and the PICs reviewed the progress in cooperation on climate change, development, maritime affairs and fisheries. They also engaged in an extensive exchange of views on ways to promote cooperation in the future. (They adopted the attached Chair’s Statement as the outcome document.)
- The Foreign Ministry held in Singapore on December 12 the 2016 meeting of heads of its diplomatic missions in South Asian and Pacific countries. First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam presided over the meeting. At the meeting, the mission chiefs discussed in depth ways for the ROK to cope diplomatically with the rapid changes in the international situation caused by the forthcoming launch of a new US administration and trade protectionist moves, as well as ways to support bids of Korean companies to expand their presence overseas. The meeting is seen to have served as a very timely opportunity for the ROK diplomatic missions in the South Asian and the Pacific region, which is drawing attention as an emerging market and a geopolitically important area, to seek pre-emptive diplomatic strategies for addressing their challenges.