Reflecting on ASEAN Day 2020 and Korea-ASEAN relations

8th August is a special day for the ASEAN Community. On this day in 53 years ago, five officials from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines came together in Thailand to sign the historic Bangkok Declaration, also known as the ASEAN Declaration, which laid the foundations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Since then Brunei, Viet Nam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have joined the ASEAN family. Today, there are 10 ASEAN member states contributing to the regional peace, prosperity and development of the ASEAN Community!

Motivated by the motto of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”, ASEAN’s advocacy focuses on three pillars: (i) Political Security, (ii) Economic and (iii) Socio-cultural. There are numerous mechanisms that operate within the umbrella of ASEAN to work on different areas, from education, Human Rights, trade and commerce to digital empowerment. ASEAN is a bedrock of accelerated regional economic growth, cultural development and social progress through the spirit of multilateralism and partnership.

Looking back at this year’s ASEAN Day celebrations, a series of activities were held across the region to commemorate this special day! This included Facebook watch parties, a compilation of Instagram stories about youths’ wishes for ASEAN, a new music video featuring ASEAN artists released by C ASEAN, ZOOM webinars organized by the ASEAN Foundation, dedicated posts from Asia Pacific Youths Service, as well as the ASEAN Information Centre, and celebratory posts from the Mission of ROK to ASEAN’s first batch of online supporters.

As an Honorary Reporter from Thailand, I took this day to learn more about the history between ASEAN and South Korea, and the region’s future. ASEAN and South Korea share a strong friendship built on 30 years of bilateral relations. Beginning from 1989, ROK has transformed from ASEAN’s sectoral dialogue parter into an economic and strategic partner. Moreover, with President Moon Jae-in’s term, Korea-ASEAN relations are being taken to new heights. President Moon unveiled Korea’s ‘New Souther Policy’ in 2017 to increase cooperation with the region. Aiming to strengthen relations in the areas of people, prosperity and peace, the ‘New Southern Policy’ celebrates the ASEAN Community as an important partner for South Korea.

With welcoming visa measures, the exchange of tourists between Korea and ASEAN also improved cultural exchanges. Kpop, Korean drama series, Korean food, cosmetics and digital products are now found across almost every ASEAN city! When the ‘Descendants of the Sun’ series was first released, even our/Thailand’s Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth praised the show! In addition to the Korean or Hallyu Wave that took Asia by storm, the ASEAN Wave is also gradually starting to take shape as ASEAN countries introduce their cultures, food and items to the Korean society.

I strongly believe that this blossoming mutual relationship between Korea and ASEAN lays the foundation for greater people-centered exchanges that will spillover to other areas like economics, education and regional stability. Armed with tomyumkung in one hand and kimchi in another, I can’t wait to be a part of a Smart and progressive Korea-ASEAN region with flourishing arts and cultures!

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Suthida C.

Suthida C.

Korea.net Honorary Reporter. Full time foodie and earth-explorer. Would travel the galaxy if I could.