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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 2018, the trade volume between the ROK and Japan amounted to $85.1 billion and people-to-people exchanges reached 10.5 million. High-level exchanges also continued, and three bilateral Summits and seven foreign ministers’ meetings were held in 2018.
- 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 of the Republic of Korea’s Position Regarding the ROK-Japan Agreement on the “Comfort Women” Issue (January 9, 2018)
- Report on the Review of the Korea-Japan Agreement of December 28, 2015 on the Issue of “Comfort Women” Victims (December 27, 2017)
- Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Republic of Korea and Japan at the Joint Press Availability (December 28, 2015)
- Korea’s Position on Japan’s Review of the Details Leading to the Drafting of the Kono Statement (June 25, 2014)
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-ASEAN 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 established an ASEAN Culture House in Busan in 2017 which would serve to boost bilateral cultural cooperation and people-to-people contact.
- 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 beneficial 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 proclaimed the 'New Southern Policy' and 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-South 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 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 body designed to strengthen economic, social and cultural exchange cooperation among countries in South Asia.
- * 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 joined the SAARC as an observer with the aim of creating a favorable environment for expansion 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 activities such 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 Seminar' 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 59-year-long diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the ROK-Australia FTA, which took effect in December 2014.
- The third Republic of Korea-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministers’ (2+2) Meeting(2017) was held in Seoul, Korea, on October 13, 2017, where regional situations, issues related to the Korean Peninsula, and ways to enhance defence and security cooperation between the two countries were discussed
- 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 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the G20.
- In 2018, on the sidelines of the 26th APEC summit, President Moon Jae-in met bilaterally with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on November 17. In their meeting, the two leaders discussed in depth ways for the Republic of Korea and Australia to coordinate on North Korean issues; the bilateral political and economic ties; ways to step up cooperation on regional and global stages; and ways to strengthen cooperation between the ROK's New Southern Policy and Australia's Indo-Pacific Strategy.
The ROK-New Zealand Relations
- The relationship between the Republic of Korea and New Zealand dates back to the Korean War. During the Korean War, New Zealand dispatched more than 6,000 troops to the Korean Peninsula under the flag of the United nations Forces.
- The historic relationship between the ROK and New Zealand led to the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1962. Over the last 57 years, the ROK and New Zealand have built close ties of friendship and cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, science and technology, culture and people-to-people exchanges.
- On the occasion of President Roh Moo-Hyun's visit to New Zealand in 2006, diplomatic relations were upgraded to a "Partnership for the 21st Century." The ROK-New Zealand FTA, which was signed in 2015, has continued to strengthen economic relations. In 2018, the trade volume reached approximately 3.1 billion dollars, a 24 percent increase than the previous year. In addition, the number of Korean visitors to New Zealand has almost doubled in the last couple of years, and more than 30 thousand New Zealand nationals now visit Korea each year. The number of people-to-people exchanges has contributed to enhancing mutual understanding between the two countries. Furthermore, the ROK and New Zealand have been working together to address global challenges. Both countries are also in close coordination and cooperation with regard to North Korea's denuclearization as well as the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
- In 2018, President Moon Jae-In paid a state visit to New Zealand. President Moon and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern agreed to develop more friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries. The two leaders also agreed to explore ways to strengthen cooperation between the ROK's New Southern Policy and New Zealand's Pacific Reset.
The ROK-Pacific Island Countries Relations
- Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in the early 1970s, the Republic of Korea has maintained close ties with the Pacific Island countries in various areas including political, economic and development cooperation. Korea’s ODA to the Pacific Island countries, which amounts to 95 million dollars since 1987, has produced favorable outcomes in fields such as climate change, fisheries and healthcare. The 「Republic of Korea-Pacific Islands Forum Cooperation Fund」 is a case in point, which has contributed to fulfilling the substantial needs of the Pacific Island countries and their peoples.
- The Korean government has participated in the PFD(Post Forum Dialogue) annually since 1995 so as to discuss a better future for the Pacific Island countries. Since 2011, Korea has held the Korea-Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers’ Meetings and Senior Officials’ Meetings. These platforms have significantly been conducive to broadening the horizons of mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two sides. The Korean government will make continued efforts to strengthen and widen cooperative relations with the Pacific Island countries toward a more mutually-beneficial future.