The Place of Latin America in South Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Document

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South Korea’s Asia-Pacific Strategy Document was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea on December 28, 2022 with the title “Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region”. The document in question consists of a total of 4 chapters and 43 pages.[1] In general, this document shows current situation in the region and South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy, threat perceptions, bilateral and multidimensional relations with actors, political stance, goals, foresights, determinations, alliances, strategy, and geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic perspective.

As a matter of fact, in the last part of the second part of the document titled “Vision, Cooperation Principles and Regional Scope”, regional-based strategies are discussed. At this point, the evaluation made on Latin America is of great importance due to the region’s proximity to the United States of America (USA) and the positive relations South Korea has developed with the regional states. Because there is a strong relationship of dialogue and alliance between Seoul and Washington. South Korea is also an important ally of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Because, due to the strong ties that Seoul has developed with both the USA and NATO, the determinations on Latin America are extremely critical.

At this point, it was first stated that Latin America is home to many countries with which South Korea has traditionally had good relations. As a matter of fact, the emphasis on the traditional strong dialogue between South Korea and the region can be read as a sign that Seoul refers to historical ties and the past. Because it can be deduced that Seoul will work to develop stronger dialogues, and for this reason, South Korea will tend to implement a type of diplomacy that appeals to people of those states.

The document then underlined that South Korea has relations with 15 Latin American and Caribbean states. In the further part of the valuation, the 60th anniversary of the relations between South Korea and Latin America was emphasized. It can be said that this situation is an example of the emphasis of the Seoul administration on historical ties. In the following part, it is stated that these diplomatic relations, which have a history of 60 years, will be built in a stronger and more robust manner within the framework of mutual dependence and interests in the future. However, these dialogues will not only be about economy, security and trade relations; In addition, it was stated that international partnerships would be established on global problems.

As a matter of fact, at this point, it can be stated that emphasizing global unity rather than regional cooperation, not mentioning the security of the Indo-Pacific Region, and not mentioning the Chinese threat are due to the increasing Chinese influence on Latin American countries. Because 22 of the 33 states in the Latin America and Caribbean Region have participated in the Belt-Road Project, which Beijing is trying to implement.[2] At the same time, it was reported that as of 2010, Chinese investments in Latin America increased by 31% compared to the 2000s.[3] In addition, it should be noted that in the Chinese Military Strategy Document of 2015, it was mentioned that Beijing will increase its military and security-based relations with Latin American countries.[4]

Because of all these situations, it can be said that South Korea does not talk about the “Chinese threat” and Indo-Pacific security in Latin America, contrary to what it says about almost all other regions. However, it is known that although Seoul makes a regional security discourse without mentioning Beijing’s name on this issue, it will point to China as well as North Korea and South Korea cannot think of a security perspective independent of China.

In the last part about the region, it was emphasized that bilateral relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean would be developed. At this point, the names of states such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, which are in the Pacific Alliance, are specifically mentioned. In particular, the importance of organizations such as the “South American Common Market”, “Central American Integration System” and “Caribbean Common Market” within the alliance was underlined.

Trying to name each actor can be interpreted as an effort to give the message that every state is important, as South Korea does in other regions. At the same time, it can be argued that drawing attention to international organizations shows the importance South Korea attaches to multilateralism in its bilateral dialogues and regional perspectives.

As a result, it can be said that South Korea does not approach the Latin America and Caribbean Region with the discourse of “China and North Korea threats” and with the perspective of Indo-Pacific security, and that Seoul gives a message of multilateral cooperation for this region in the context of global problems. It can be argued that the reason for this is the increasing Chinese influence on Latin America and the Caribbean.

[1] “Strategy for a Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Korea,, (Date of Accession: 22.01.2023).

[2] Chris Devonshire-Ellis, “China Massively Expands Diplomacy And Investments in Latin America and the Caribbean”, Silk Road Briefing,,implying%20a%20significant%20YoY%20increase, (Date of Accession: 22.01.2022).

[3] Diana Roy, “China’s Growing Influence in Latin America”, Council on Foreign Relations,, (Date of Accession: 22.01.2022).

[4] “Full text: China’s Military Strategy”, China Daily,, (Date of Accession: 22.01.2022).

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten, 2021 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden “Amerikan Dış Politikası” başlıklı bitirme teziyle mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda Tezli Yüksek Lisans öğrenimine devam eden Gülten, lisans eğitimi esnasında Erasmus+ programı çerçevesinde Lodz Üniversitesi Uluslararası ve Politik Çalışmalar Fakültesi’nde bir dönem boyunca öğrenci olarak bulunmuştur. ANKASAM’ın çalışmalarına katkıda bulunan Gülten’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Amerikan Dış Politikası, Asya-Pasifik ve Uluslararası Hukuk’tur. Gülten, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.