Skip to content

South Korean cash shines bright for ASEAN

South Korean cash shines bright for ASEAN

South Korean national flags fly at the International Horticulture Goyang Korea exhibition in Goyang, Gyeonggi province, South Korea, on Friday, May 10, 2019. The Bank of Korea faces rising speculation that it will reduce its benchmark rate from the current 1.75% when it meets July 18. The BOK forecast 2.5% economic growth for this year in April. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ended a three-nation tour of Southeast Asia, his biggest push yet to increase engagement with the fast-growing region – overtures experts believe are well needed at a time of heightened concern over US-China competition in the area.

Moon visited Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, signing a number of high-profile deals that included a military intelligence pact with Bangkok, a US$1bn aid offer to Naypyidaw and business partnerships with Vientiane, where he became the first South Korean president to make a state visit.

His trip indicates the widening scope of South Korea’s Asian diplomacy. Previously, Seoul focused its regional foreign policy efforts on North Asia and Russia, but under Moon, the nation is looking to elevate ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in an attempt to diversify its economic relationships and reduce its reliance on China.