See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Opinion

OP ED: Moon Jae-In writes about ASEAN before his visit to the region

South Korean – ASEAN ties important as Moon makes his visit to the region.


Written by

Updated: +00

Next week, I will be making state visits to Brunei, Malaysia and Cambodia. I am very pleased that ASEAN member states will be the destination of my first overseas tour this year. I extend warm greetings of friendship from the citizens of the Republic of Korea to our ASEAN friends.

ASEAN always reminds me of the sea that nurtured and raised me. I grew up in Busan, the largest port city of the Republic of Korea. My parents were displaced from their hometown, and it was the inclusiveness and understanding of those who lived with the sea that took in my impoverished family. From them, I was able to learn a lesson of courage and hope that no matter how harsh the storm and waves, we can weather them if we gather our strengths.

Most ASEAN member states not only lie by the sea but also possess infinite wisdom and power stemming from the sea. Among these, ASEAN’s openness and inclusiveness are particularly astounding. Diverse religions, thoughts and civilizations coexist harmoniously while respecting each other. Their levels of economic development and political systems vary, but they have pioneered the “ASEAN way” that guarantees equal participation and opportunities within the community.

The efforts of ASEAN people toward unity and mutual benefits have accomplished regional stability and peace as well. It was never by chance that ASEAN member states hosted both of the historic North Korea-United States summits aimed at dismantling the world’s last remaining Cold War rivalry. ASEAN is at the forefront of endeavors to usher in an era of Asia marked by peace and coexistence.

In its quest for people-centered growth, ASEAN has now grown into the world’s youngest and most dynamic community. As a mega market with a total population of 640 million and a GDP of US$2.7 trillion, it boasts a potential annual growth rate of five percent with a median age of 30 years. While practicing the inclusive growth that the whole world is pursuing, ASEAN is setting an example that peace will directly lead to economic prosperity. I send my respect to our ASEAN friends.

Surrounded by the sea on three sides, Korea also has openness, inclusiveness and innovation in its DNA. I am convinced that ASEAN and Korea, with so much in common, are optimal partners, playing off each other’s strengths. We will make up for what the other lacks and maximize the outcome of cooperation.

We have already shared profound friendship for a long time. Knowing how challenging it is to find the ways to survive among world powers, we have been one of the first to lend a helping hand to countries in crisis. When the Korean War broke out, ASEAN member nations dispatched troops to fight with us for freedom and peace. When the whole of Asia was reeling from the 1997 foreign exchange crisis, countries in the region joined forces and surmounted it together.

As friends with heart-to-heart understanding, ASEAN and Korea feel a natural attachment to each other, holding each other dear. Many Koreans enjoy Southeast Asian cuisine, and many countries in the region make ideal destinations for family vacations. In September 2017, the first ASEAN Culture House for one of ASEAN’s 10 Dialogue Partners opened in Busan, my hometown. Many Koreans frequent the House to better understand and familiarize themselves with ASEAN. It is truly welcome news that K-pop is received well by many people in ASEAN and the demand for Korean electronic goods and cosmetics is high there.

We can usher in a more prosperous and peaceful future. ASEAN leaders and I share a future vision encapsulated by such keywords as people, prosperity and peace. I have announced the New Southern Policy, which incorporates various measures for cooperation aimed at bringing about our vision, and have launched the Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy made up of various government ministries and agencies.

Recently, concrete results from cooperation are coming into sight. Last year, the number of visitors traveling between ASEAN countries and Korea surpassed 10 million for the first time, and bilateral trade recorded a new high at US$160 billion. Our cooperation will further expand into other areas going forward, including advanced science and technology, information and communication technology, transport, energy and the defense industry. Our cooperation will also make constructive contributions to strengthening connectivity in the region, a goal pursued by ASEAN.

This is a very meaningful year in that it marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between ASEAN and Korea. To celebrate, the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit will be held in Korea at the end of this year. I hope that it proves an opportunity to bring the future vision of creating a people-centered community of peace and prosperity closer to reality. I am confident that when ASEAN and Korea join forces, we will be able to enjoy unprecedented happiness, prosperity and peace that we have never experienced before.

Lastly, I especially express my sincere gratitude to all the people of ASEAN who helped bring an atmosphere of peace and harmony to the Korean Peninsula. The Korean people who have long aspired to peace will never forget the friendship ASEAN has shown to us. I look forward to peace on the Korean Peninsula leading to peace and prosperity in all of Asia.

Moon Jae-in is President of the Republic of Korea. He contributed this article to Asia News Network members ahead of visits to Brunei, Malaysia, and Cambodia



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Moon Jae In
About the Author: Moon Jae-in is President of the Republic of Korea.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Opinion

Diplomatic thaw prompted active inter-Korean exchanges in 2018

The number of South Koreans visiting the North and vice versa increased sharply to 7,498 in 2018 from 115 in 2017. South Korea greatly expanded exchanges and cooperation with North Korea last year, buoyed by a diplomatic thaw following three inter-Korean summits, according to a new white paper published by the Ministry of Unification on Thursday. The surge in visits was attributed to government initiatives to cooperate with the North on an inter-Korean railway connection project, a forestry project and various sports events. Social and cultural exchanges driven by civic groups and local governments also played a role, according to the 2019 White Paper on


By The Korea Herald
March 22, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Italy to play a key role as Belt and Road opens new doors across globe

Italy will be a major part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. East-West relations have entered a new phase. Global integration, with sustained increases in crossborder exchanges of goods, technology, knowledge and resources, has reshaped international relations, spurring economic development of traditionally marginal regions and encouraging economic convergence among poorer and richer areas. The phenomenon has received great impetus from the possibilities offered by technological progress and the increase in physical and digital connectivity, strongly enhanced by the modernization and innovation efforts of Asian countries. What we have seen and are still seeing, indeed, is not a simple shift of production from the West to the East, but a real change in production models. The production and consumption of goods and services have followed value chains that are no longer confined to a local scale, but are


By China Daily
March 22, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

How competing masculinities inform Pak-India escalation

Devaluing the other in gender hierarchies often takes place through feminisation. Last month, tensions reigned high between neighbouring nuclear powers that share an ugly history of separation and bellicosity. Once more, India and Pakistan seemed to be at the brink of war. Airports were shut down, the Line of Control was violated, and de-escalation — especially in the newfound absence of dedicated third-party intervention — looked out of bounds for the most part. War-mongering through media outlets prevailed while fake and selective news circulated in this situation of crisis. Yet, it is baffling — if also not amusing — that even in such delicate moments, rhetoric of ‘putting them in their place’ was omnipresent on both sides. Similarly, a few months ago, when Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted his disappointment regarding peace talks with India, he chastised that he ha


By Dawn
March 21, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Moon holds meeting with US intelligence chief in Seoul

The meeting comes after the failed Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim. President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday met with US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in Seoul to discuss bilateral issues, Cheong Wa Dae said. According to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, Moon and Coats held an “in-depth and wide ranging discussion about current issues between South Korea and the US.” Coats’ visit is seen as aimed at sharing information and assessment of North Korea following the breakdown of last month’s summit between the two countries. Earlier, a local newspaper reported that Coats arrived at a US air base in Osan, south of Seoul,


By The Korea Herald
March 21, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Thais wont mobilize in protest even if junta wins elections.

Thailand’s ersatz elections will not bother most Thais even if army comes back to rule. Every country has their breaking point, where corruption, abuse and living standards reach a point where people are compelled to take to the streets and demand a change. Thailand’s breaking point appears to be much higher than most. After all, a decade of political infighting, street riots, and military crackdowns has made mass protest much less palatable for the common Thai. Despite this, the military seem to be doing their utmost to push the populace to their limit. Reports from early and overseas voters tell of an election deeply flawed with spoiled ballots, discounted votes and confusing polling procedures. Some votes have been disregarded altogether, including those that voted for the Thai Raksa Chat Party who was disqualified by the Election Commission for running a princess to be p


By Cod Satrusayang
March 20, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Is Kim Jong-un considering ‘new way’?

Post Hanoi summit failure, speculation grows on what new mode of defense may be. Following the failure to reach an agreement at last month’s summit between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, tension has been building between the two sides, threatening the negotiations that they have built over the past year. While the breakdown of their second meeting did not lead to a war of words, North Korea said it was considering suspending talks with the United States, while Washington accused Pyongyang of “not doing what it needs to do.” The communist leader warned in his New Year’s speech this year he would have to find a new way for defending the North if the US did not keep its promises. As the US appears to have no intention of taking the “commensurate measures” the North seeks for the denuclearization steps it has taken, speculation has grown as to whether


By The Korea Herald
March 20, 2019