Moon hopes to give shape to Southeast Asian vision on tour of region

By Choi He-suk
  • Published : Nov 9, 2017 - 18:46
  • Updated : Nov 9, 2017 - 21:44
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday held a summit meeting with Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, taking the first step in his plans to strengthen relations with Southeast Asian nations.

Moon began his eight-day tour of Southeast Asia on Wednesday with a state visit to Indonesia.

In addition to holding one-on-one and expanded summit talks, Moon met with Indonesia-based Koreans, and with the two countries’ business leaders. 

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (left) and Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo partake in a summit in Jakarta on Thursday. (Yonhap)

From Jakarta, Moon is to travel to Danang, Vietnam for a two-day trip to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. 

The president will then go on to the Philippines to attend the East Asia Summit, and the summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three on Monday and Tuesday.

Seoul is working with Vietnam and China on arranging summit meetings on the sidelines of the two multinational events.

Since before taking office, Moon has said that he would expand the country’s diplomatic relations, placing particular emphasis on Southeast Asia. True to his word, he sent special envoys to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after taking office, becoming the first Korean president to do so.

Moon highlighted his vision at the first stop in Indonesia, telling Indonesia-based Koreans he has stressed the need to “expand Korea’s diplomatic horizons.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (second from right) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (second from left) are greeted by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) and his wife Iriana Widodo (left) in Jakarta on Thursday. (Yonhap)

“We must expand our vision beyond the four major nations (US, China, Japan and Russia) in order to capitalize on (Korea’s) geographical advantage as a country that connects the continent to the oceans,” Moon said at Wednesday’s event.

Moon’s economy adviser Kim Hyun-chul on Thursday added further details to Moon’s vision, saying the administration plans to expand trade with ASEAN to $200 billion by 2021.

The plans are thought to be aimed at reducing South Korea’s reliance on China for its trade. Annual trade volume with China, South Korea’s largest trading partner, currently stands at about $210 billion.

Speaking to media in Jakarta, Kim said that Moon’s ASEAN-related plans can be summarized as “‘3P -- People, Prosperity, Peace.”

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

According to Kim, the “people” element of the strategy aims to improve exchange in a range of fields including government, business and culture.

“The plan is to seek a win-win of shared prosperity. Korea will utilize ASEAN’s labor force and provide resource and technologies to create a synergy effect,” Kim said regarding the “prosperity” element of the plans.

Regarding the element of peace, Kim said that Moon hopes to aide ASEAN nations maintain peace, and capitalize in on the countries’ diplomatic relations with North Korea to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. All 10 ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines -- have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

By Choi He-suk (

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