Success of South Korea's ASEAN Plan May Depend on Indonesia's Chairmanship

Diana Mariska
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo during the G20 summit in Bali on November 15, 2022. (Photo: Mast IRHAM / POOL / AFP)
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo during the G20 summit in Bali on November 15, 2022. (Photo: Mast IRHAM / POOL / AFP) - Last month, during the ASEAN summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, President Yoon Suk Yeol mapped out an ASEAN-focused plan which will see the region as the centerpiece of the East Asian country’s brand new Indo-Pacific Strategy. It’s essentially formulated to encourage a stronger and deeper cooperation with ASEAN countries in various fields, including security, economy, and technology.

However, as Indonesia is to become the chair of ASEAN next year, the success of South Korea’s plan in the region may be greatly influenced (even depends) on how well Indonesia plays its role in ASEAN in 2023.

Speaking at an Indonesian Next Generation Journalist Network on Korea workshop initiated by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) and Korea Foundation, Choi Shin Hye from the Embassy of South Korea in Jakarta said President Yoon’s administration is “well aware” of Indonesia’s capability in playing a big role on the international stage.

Choi also stated that Korea is confident that Indonesia’s chairmanship will result in the much-needed resolutions to bring an end to conflicts within ASEAN, including the Myanmar crisis and South China Sea conflicts.

“Korea is very well aware of the leadership of Indonesia as we’ve seen this year as chair of G20 summit. [We] already know about the current obstacles, risks, and challenges faced by ASEAN countries … economic recovery, Myanmar, and the South China Sea issues,” she explained.

According to her, Korea is determined to back and support steps and suggestions made by Indonesia to solve the aforementioned issues because a peaceful and conducive ASEAN will also be key for the success of President Yoon’s foreign policy.

“Korea is very confident that Indonesia, as a chair, will wisely deal with all these sensitive issues in a very comprehensive and complete way. So we … support ASEAN Centrality and ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and we believe Indonesia will come up with very wise and creative solutions to the current obstacles,” Choi said.

As mapped out in his piece for the Bangkok Post, former South Korean ambassador to ASEAN Suh Jeon In said the Korea- ASEAN Solidarity Initiative (KASI) is a “tailored strategy” centered in the region under the larger Indo-Pacific Strategy framework.

“It seeks to strengthen political-security cooperation in addition to the economic, social, and cultural cooperation that previous Korean administrations have focused on,” Suh explained.

The Indo-Pacific policy itself will focus on achieving three key visions: freedom, peace, and prosperity. In aiming to achieve freedom, Choi said Korea “seeks to promote core values, including freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights”. Under this aspect, President Yoon’s administration is determined to strengthen cooperation and existing works with countries that share similar values in order to uphold the rule-based international order.

“We oppose unilateral use of force to change the status quo,” Choi emphasized.

She continued that to achieve peace, Korea will “play an active role in preventing disputes and armed conflicts” in accordance to the established rules, and it will also promote “peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue”. Included in this aspect is a continuous effort to achieve a complete denuclearization of North Korea as well as partnerships in non-proliferation and counter-terrorism fields.

Lastly, Choi said Korea also aims to build a “vibrant and prosperous” Indo-Pacific by ensuring an open and fair economic order.

“Korea will enhance supply chain resiliency, expand network for economic security, and foster cooperative and inclusive economic and technological ecosystem,” she stated.

Lastly, Choi once again emphasized that ASEAN will be Korea’s main ally to tackle issues on the international stage and to further cement its position in Indo-Pacific by achieving the three main visions.

“Our new strategy is based on our existing cooperation with ASEAN, so ASEAN will be the main partner to expand our diplomatic horizon to the Indo-Pacific region.”

Tag # korea foundation # fpci # indonesian next generation journalist network on korea # south korea # indonesia south korea relations # kasi # yoon suk yeol

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