Unveiled by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in November 2017 after his trip to South East Asia, the 'New Southern Policy' envisions more cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN, from culture to the economy.
The policy boils down to more exchanges among citizens, economic cooperation and regional security. In other words: People, Prosperity and Peace.
"The 'New Southern Policy' is the core of South Korea's national development strategy. ASEAN enjoys faster growth and has greater growth potential than any other region around the world. We must open the future of peace and co-prosperity in Asia with ASEAN."
The ambitious plan began amid growing tensions between South Korea and China over the deployment of the U.S.' THAAD missile defense system on the peninsula.
Traditionally, the Korean Peninsula has been affected politically and economically by global superpowers, which has made Seoul feel the need to diversify its foreign policy as a 'middle power'.
"Amid strategic competition between the U.S. and China and increasing protectionist mood, ASEAN prefers to build an inclusive and multilateral cooperation mechanism rather than taking sides between the two big powers."
Seoul has expanded its ties not only with individual ASEAN members through bilateral free trade agreements but also with broader regional blocs, such as through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Based on this driving force, the two sides have been fostering cooperation in other fields as well, including science and cyber-security.
"ASEAN, Korea explore new business opportunities by streghtening platforms or mechanism of cooperation in many areas such as infrastructure, ICT, start-ups, financing and so on."
For a sustainable relationship, experts say, both sides should build trust based on mutual respect and interests. They say that in the long run, the policy will see more tangible outcomes.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.