See More on Facebook

Current affairs

‘Time to focus on people to create sustainable community with ASEAN’

A deeper understanding of member-states’ cultures is the key, says Secretary-General of ASEAN-Korea Center.


Written by

Updated: October 9, 2019

People-oriented diplomacy will empower South Korea’s pursuit of stronger partnership with Southeast Asian nations, Secretary-General of the ASEAN-Korea Center Lee Hyuk said.

“We need to make efforts to get to know and respect ASEAN through deep understanding of their cultures and people in order to create an intimate community,” he said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the ASEAN-Korea Center in Seoul.

The United States’ “America First” policy and similar policies adopted by China and Russia have led Korea to seek to strengthen its strategic leverage beyond its major partners.

“The era has come where reinforcing relations and developing cooperation with ASEAN countries perfectly fit the interests of South Korea, which seeks to open up a new diplomatic horizon,” Lee said.

Korea has long viewed ASEAN as a potential market, but the country did not pursue it as it focused on its own rapid industrialization and economic growth.

“We’ve got to try to move away from excessive focus on the economic aspect and make bold investments for cultural, academic and people exchanges,” said Lee, who served as ambassador to Vietnam and the Philippines before heading the center.

Leading those efforts has been the ASEAN-Korea Center, an intergovernmental organization that promotes economic and sociocultural cooperation between ASEAN and Korea, established 10 years ago.

The year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-Korea dialogue relations and the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-Korea center.

Lee believes that Korea and ASEAN have the potential to further develop relations for the next 30 years.

“South Korea and the ASEAN nations don’t have many obstacles in joining hands for cooperative development and peace in the region. There’s no historical baggage. They basically are able to share each other’s feelings culturally and emotionally.”

His advocacy of people-oriented diplomacy is in line with President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy, announced in 2017, which aims to elevate partnerships between the two sides.

The initiative places people at the center of the policy with the “3P” pillars — people, prosperity and peace.

In tandem with such policy commitments, the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit will be held in Busan from Nov. 25-26.

As a side event for the summit, the center will organized the ASEAN-Korea Train under the theme of “Advancing Together,” which promotes people-centered connectivity between ASEAN and Korea.

“The train trip is designed to help ASEAN people experience various aspects of Korea, including the natural environment, culture, economic situation and the people, for a deeper understanding and relations-building through the broad personal network that will be formed during the event,” he said.

Lee hopes that the some 140 people from ASEAN and 60 Koreans invited to the event will play the role of honorary ambassadors after the train journey around the country, which includes stops at major attractions in Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan, Suncheon and Gwangju.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

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

Current affairs

North Korea has not given up hope for nuclear talks with US yet

Kim has mentioned a possibility of a ‘Christmas’ gift. Tensions between the US and North Korea have heightened as the two sides exchanged threats and bellicose rhetoric of possible military actions if necessary, amid their stalled nuclear talks. But they appear to have no intention to wind up their diplomacy at least for the next few weeks, experts said. On Wednesday, Heino Klinck, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said the US has been refraining from responding to every single one of North On Wednesday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck said the


By The Korea Herald
December 6, 2019

Current affairs

Pyongyang to hold party meeting ahead of year-end deadline

Kim Jong-un rides up Paektusan again, highlights self-reliance and revolutionary spirit. North Korea will hold a plenary meeting around the end of December to decide on “crucial issues,” its state-run news agency said Wednesday. On the same day, the Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode up Paektusan on a white horse accompanied by military commanders, raising speculation that the communist regime may take more provocative military actions as the year-end deadline it set for denuclearization talks with the US quickly approaches. North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea announced Tuesday that the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the WPK would convene around the end of December, Korea Central News Agency reported, “in order to discuss and decide on crucial issues in line with the needs of the development of the Korean revolution and the chan


By The Korea Herald
December 5, 2019

Current affairs

Typhoon Tisoy touches down in the Philippines

The typhoon may affect the Southeast Asian games which is currently underway. Typhoon Tisoy slightly weakened early Tuesday morning as it bears down on Burias Island but it remains strong and destructive, the weather bureau reported. In its 5 a.m. Severe Weather Bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that Tisoy’s eyewall is currently bringing violent winds and intense rainfall over Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Masbate. Its eyewall is also expected to affect Southern Quezon, Romblon, and Marinduque in the next three hours. Frequent to continuous heavy to intense (with isolated torrential) rains will be experienced in the Bicol Region, Romblon, Marinduque, Mindoro Provinces, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan between Tuesday early morning and late afternoon, Pagasa said. Occasional to frequent heavy


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 3, 2019

Current affairs

Thousands return to Hong Kong streets in fresh round of protests

Police fire tear gas at those outside of approved route. After a week of relative calm, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday (Dec 1) chanting slogans such as “revolution of our time” and “liberate Hong Kong”. The protest, which took place in the bustling shopping district of Tsim Tsa Tsui, came after hundreds of people marched to the United States consulate earlier in the day to show “gratitude” for US support for the demonstrations that have roiled the China-ruled financial hub for nearly six months. Waving posters that read “Never forget why you started” and black flags with the logo “Revolution now”, protesters marched past the city’s Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls. Police in riot gear were out in force for the Tsim Sha Tsui march – the third one of the day. The


By The Straits Times
December 2, 2019

Current affairs

N. Korea says it tested super-large multiple rocket launcher

KCNA says it tested the rockets ‘under leader’s guidance’. North Korea said Friday it successfully tested a super-large multiple rocket launcher’s successive firing system under leader Kim Jong-un’s guidance in the launch of two projectiles the previous day. On Thursday, South Korea’s military said the North fired two projectiles from what is presumed to be a super-large multiple rocket launcher from Yeonpo in the country’s eastern South Hamgyong Province toward the East Sea. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the Academy of Defence Science conducted the drill to “finally examine the combat applicability” of the launcher. Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the test results.


By The Korea Herald
November 29, 2019

Current affairs

NO MERCY for café attack perpetrators

Sentencing 7 militants to death, court says Holey Artisan attack was designed to assassinate the non-communal character of Bangladesh.  A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced seven militants to death for their involvement in the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, terming it a disgraceful attack aimed at assassinating the non-communal character of Bangladesh. The Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal acquitted one accused as it found him not guilty in the atrocity that left 22 people, including 17 foreigners, dead in the capital’s Gulshan. The judgment came more than three years after the country’s deadliest café siege which, according to the court, was aimed at endangering public safety and drawing attention of the international militant organisation IS. The grisly attack followed a spate of target killings of bloggers, writers, members of religious minorities a


By Daily Star
November 28, 2019