Politicians and academics from Korea and ASEAN member countries gathered in Seoul on Thursday for a conference on the theme of "Peace and Co-prosperity in Asia."
"Peace is something that Korea strongly desires as the Korean peninsula remains divided despite the end of the Cold War. Peace is also valued by ASEAN member states, which went through long periods of war and foreign interference. We believe that we can cooperate closely for peace in Asia."
All 10 ASEAN countries have diplomatic ties with North Korea, meaning South Korea and ASEAN can work together to contribute to North Korea's denuclearization and pull the North into the East Asian community.
The conference also discussed co-prosperity. South Korea's economic achievement and technological advances are expected to create synergy with ASEAN, which has an economic growth rate of five percent a year and a population of 640 million people.
Trade has increased 20-fold between South Korea and ASEAN in the last thirty years, and the RCEP mega trade deal is expected to further help boost trade at a time of increasing uncertainty and rising trade protectionism around the world.
"Participants also shared their insight on the Moon Administration's New Southern Policy, including areas that can be improved.
Of the three pillars of people, peace and prosperity, participants said coming up with detailed policies to boost people-to-people exchanges is critical.
"ASEAN is in the spotlight, caught between China's Belt and Road Initiative and the United States' Indo-Pacific policy. But they do not want to be at the center of a geopolitical fight. Korea, as a middle power country, needs to boost trust and find commonality with ASEAN through cultural exchanges and educational exchanges for economic cooperation in the long-run."
Student exchanges, continuing tourism, and establishing research centers dedicated to the understanding of Korea-ASEAN relations were pointed out as ways to work together.
To boost cooperation in renewable energy, technological development and business, policy consistency is also needed.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.