New Indo-Pacific Cooperation from South Korea, Does Indonesia Benefit?

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo shakes hands with South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol at the Presidential Office in Seoul, South Korea, July 28, 2022. (Yonhap via REUTERS)

South Korea is known to have renewed Indo-Pacific cooperation. This latest collaboration is a concrete step by the South Korean government toward the Indo-Pacific countries. So, what is the positive impact on Indonesia?

Indo-Pacific cooperation was explained by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the Asean Summit in Cambodia last month. South Korea uses an approach to freedom, peace, and prosperity for countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

This policy can be said to be a substitute for The New Southern Policy (NSP) which was popularized by the previous President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in.

South Korean Embassy diplomat in Jakarta Choi Shin-Hye said that the cooperation was the latest concrete step by the South Korean government toward countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Choi Shin-hye explained in more detail the points of freedom, peace, and prosperity echoed by South Korea in Indo-Pacific cooperation.

He said that we are trying to expand the contours of our cooperation with many countries in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. To support this goal, Korea is committed to building a multidimensional and comprehensive partnership network.

“We will also promote strategic partnerships tailored to each sub-region, including North America, Southeast Asia or ASEAN; South Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Europe,” he explained.

He said every country in the Indo-Pacific region can adjust their needs to the 9 priority agendas.

Furthermore, Indonesia, Choi Shin-Hye said South Korea was ready to strengthen cooperation, especially in the maritime sector.

In addition to the relationship between the two governments (government to government/G-to-G), Indo-Pacific cooperation can also strengthen relations between residents.

“We actively facilitate people-to-people exchanges, especially among young people. By leveraging the shared appeal of dynamic K-Pop, South Korea is pursuing cooperative public diplomacy that enhances exchanges with diverse cultures across the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

On the other hand, Advisor for Political Relations and International Organizations at the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul Riza Hera Wardhana said the Indo-Pacific cooperation announced by President Yoon Suk-Yeol was actually almost similar to the NSP era of Moon Jae-in. However, he considered that one thing that distinguished the policies of the two South Korean Presidents was the range of countries that were the target of cooperation.

“The scope of Indo-Pacific cooperation is very broad compared to the NSP. We see that this policy does not only cover ASEAN, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Even the US and Europe have also entered. I think this policy has been eagerly awaited by the international community,” he said.

Reza also said that the latest Indo-Pacific cooperation from South Korea opened up opportunities for cooperation with ASEAN, especially Indonesia. Moreover, he said, next year will be the celebration of 50 years of bilateral relations between Indonesia and South Korea.