Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)
The foreign ministry said Friday that its budget has been set at 2.84 trillion won ($2.62 billion) for next year, with a focus on bolstering noncontact diplomacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The total amount includes a 6.4 billion-won increase for what it calls "digital plus public diplomacy," which is aimed at improving infrastructure for virtual meetings that have become a new standard for diplomats since the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted in-person talks, the ministry said.
The budget was approved by parliament on Wednesday.
Under its budget plan, 6.5 billion won will be spent to build its own platform for videoconferencing equipped with a high level of security so as to prepare for multilateral gatherings that Seoul is due to host or will take part in.
South Korea is the host for next year's Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030, a multilateral conference on climate change and sustainable growth. It is also looking to host a cooperation forum on coronavirus responses and vaccines.
The ministry has set aside 950.5 billion won for official development assistance (ODA), up 3.5 percent from a year earlier. Of the amount, 61.7 billion won will be spent to help developing countries with anti-virus efforts.
It has allocated 560 million won for projects related to preparation for the incoming US administration led by President-elect Joe Biden, as part of efforts to beef up the alliance and bilateral ties.
The budget will also be used to promote the government's New Southern Policy Plus, an upgraded version of a key regional initiative designed to deepen ties with Southeast Asian countries and India, the ministry said. (Yonhap)