Korea, Southeast Asia discuss improving regional ties

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 2, 2014 - 19:59
  • Updated : Mar 2, 2014 - 19:59
Chung Hae-moon (second from left), secretary-general of the ASEAN-Korea Center and Le Luong Minh (second from right), secretary-general of ASEAN, pose with key leaders at the International Conference on the Prospects of ASEAN-Korea Relations in Seoul on Tuesday.
(Philip Iglauer/The Korea Herald)

Southeast Asia includes 600 million people of different ethnicities, cultures, languages, religions ― and disparate income levels. But despite these differences, the region is marked by widespread peace and economic development. The challenge now is how to take it to the next level.

High-level national and regional leaders from Southeast Asia and South Korea convened on Wednesday in Seoul to review decades of forward-looking regional building, 25 years of ties between Seoul and ASEAN and the path forward.

Le Luong Minh, secretary-general of ASEAN, said elevating South Korean-ASEAN two-way trade to $150 billion a year by 2015 and strengthening political security dialogue on issues of piracy and terrorism are two top issues.

Close ties between South Korea and ASEAN have global importance because they could ameliorate tensions between China and Japan, the world’s largest and third-largest economies, respectively, according to regional observers at the conference.

Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin also spoke at the conference, focusing on goals for the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

Myanmar assumed the rotating chair of ASEAN this year for the first time since joining the regional group in 1997. Releasing Nobel Peace winner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2010 and agreeing to democratic reforms since 2011 made it possible for Myanmar to play a more active role in Southeast Asian affairs. This year’s East Asia Summit, a forum for discussing regional peace and security issues, will be hosted by Myanmar.

Including South Korea, ASEAN has 11 Dialogue Partners and 71 ambassadors are accredited to the regional organization.

By Philip Iglauer (