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Asia - Pacific

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Information on the Region

Japan

The ROK-Japan Relations

China

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.

Southeast Asia

The ROK-ASEAN Relations
  • The relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) has exhibited remarkable mutual cooperation and growing interdependence since the establishment of Dialogue Partnership in 1989.
  • ASEAN and the ROK have acknowledged a strong momentum in their relations, particularly since the ROK hosted two Commemorative Summits with ASEAN in Jeju in 2009 and in Busan in 2014 to celebrate the 20th and 25th anniversary of ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Partnership, respectively.
  • ASEAN is ROK's second largest trading partner and the third largest investment destination, and both sides committed to increase the two-way trade volume to $US200 billion by 2020.
  • Socio-cultural cooperation between ASEAN and the ROK has been promoted including through various activities during the ASEAN-ROK Culture Exchange Year in 2017. In addition to the ASEAN-Korea Centre established in Seoul in 2009, the ROK established the ASEAN Culture House in Busan in 2017, which serves to boost bilateral cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. ASEAN is the most popular travel destination for Koreans.
  • The ASEAN-ROK partnership has witnessed substantive progress in cooperation projects under the Plan of Action (2016-2020) in areas such as food, agriculture, forestry, infrastructure development, science and technology, health, and the ROK's assistance in ASEAN's efforts to narrow the development gap within the region.
  • The next Plan of Action (2021-2025) will provide a comprehensive framework and practical measures to further strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation. The new Plan of Action will place a priority on programs 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 including ASEAN Plus Three (APT), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) 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 regional integration in East Asia.
  • The ROK government hopes to further strengthen the country's diplomatic relations with ASEAN and build a stronger than ever partnership with ASEAN and develop it to the level that the country enjoys with other global powers.
  • President Moon Jae-in announced the New Southern Policy in 2017 and presented a vision of creating a People-centered Community of Peace and Prosperity. Corresponding with the three pillars of ASEAN Community, the New Southern Policy is underpinned by the "3P" pillars - People, Prosperity, and Peace - with People placed at the center of the policy. It aims to build a people's community where people connect to each other heart-to-heart, a peaceful community that contributes to peace in Asia through security cooperation, and a prosperous community that thrives through reciprocal economic cooperation.
  • President Moon pledged to double the ASEAN-ROK cooperation fund (AKCF) to $US14 million and Mekong-ROK cooperation fund (MKCF) to $US3 million and increase the cooperation fund for the ASEAN-ROK FTA so that the volume of trade with ASEAN could reach $US200 billion by 2020.

South Asia

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.

Pacific

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.