The Straits Times says

Seoul's pivot to Asean makes sense

South Korean President Moon Jae-In's signature New Southern Policy (NSP) got a further boost at this week's Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit held in the South Korean port city of Busan. The NSP, which Mr Moon unveiled during his first official visit to South-east Asia in November 2017, seeks to deepen relations between Seoul and Asean, as well as India. It has both a strategic and economic rationale. Traditionally, South Korea's foreign policy has revolved mainly around issues relating to the Korean peninsula as well as bilateral relations with the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

However, developments in recent years have highlighted the risks of this relatively narrow focus. The US-China trade war has affected South Korea's exports of intermediate goods to China, and contributed to its slower growth. Bilateral relations with China were also affected by Seoul's deployment of a US-supplied missile defence system which, while intended as a defence against North Korea, was viewed by Beijing as a threat. South Korea's relations with Japan remain under a cloud because of an escalation of disputes relating to Japan's alleged atrocities during its colonial rule.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2019, with the headline 'Seoul's pivot to Asean makes sense'. Print Edition | Subscribe