The Place of South Asia in the South Korean Indo-Pacific Strategy Document

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The strategy document, which is expected to be published by South Korea at the end of 2022 and provides critical information and ideas about Seoul’s strategy towards the Asia-Pacific Region, was published on the official website of the Foreign Ministry, on December 28, 2022 under the name of “Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region”.[1] This document consists of 43 pages in total and includes 4 sections. The document is of great importance as it reflects South Korea’s geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic approach to the Indo-Pacific Region.

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 South Asia is very important both for the security perspective of South Korea, its cyclical attitude in the region and the future of the Indo-Pacific Region, especially since it points to a geography with high conflict intensity.

In this context, before evaluating the South Asia part of the document, it is stated that the South Korean administration has developed strong dialogues with the West, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States of America (USA) globally, especially on the Asia-Pacific Region. It can be argued that it has built strong alliance relations with those actors. Therefore, within the framework of the section, it can be interpreted that the regional interpretation of Seoul will not be far from the scope of Western-based idea generation.

In this context, when we look at the relevant part of the document, the section titled South Asia first states that the region is home to more than 24% of the world’s population, and has important roads connecting West and East Asia, seas and land. For this reason, it has been mentioned that the region has a significant growth potential.

At this point, it was said that South Korea would develop closer relations with the South Asian Region and provide more support to key partners in the region. This situation can be read as Seoul’s value to the South Asian Region and the actors in the region in the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific Region. It can be argued that South Korea aims to establish a prosperous situation in the South Asian Region in terms of both national, regional and global security.

In addition, a special place is given to India in the following section. Indeed, India is the world’s fifth largest economy.[2] However, it can be said that India is a rapidly growing country with a strong growth potential. Because it was mentioned in the document that Seoul would deepen its strategic cooperation with New Delhi.

On the other hand, it was emphasized that India shares common values with South Korea and is one of the leading countries in the region. Emphasis on shared value can be interpreted as South Korea’s intention to cooperate with India through its opposition to North Korea and China. Currently, there are many border-related problems between New Delhi and Beijing. As such, it can be argued that South Korea and India have common security concerns and interests. It can be stated that this situation creates an important opportunity for Seoul.

Afterwards, it was stated that India has a very high growth potential due to being the second largest economy in the world and its technological power in the context of information and space technologies.

In addition, it is known that South Korea is a very important technological power and is home to many technology brands. When an evaluation is made in this way, it can be thought that Seoul aims to make a breakthrough in establishing a technology-based partnership with New Delhi. Considering both Seoul’s potential to produce technology and China’s global technological competition with the West and the West alliance over the chip industry, it can be argued that such a cooperation will create an advantageous situation for both actors. In addition, this situation may also benefit Seoul and New Delhi in terms of restricting Beijing’s global and regional technological influence.

In the following part, it has been said that South Korea will strengthen its cooperation with India both in foreign policy production and in defense. As such, it can be stated that Seoul wants to build an alliance in the context of security and common values.

In the last part of the South Asian section of the document, it is underlined that South Korea will develop cooperation with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other South Asian countries on the basis of interdependence, through trade, investment and development support. While India was specifically mentioned in the previous section, the mention of Pakistan here, albeit briefly, can generally be read as Seoul’s action on the region with the aim of pursuing a multi-vector policy and not neglecting any actor. At the same time, the mention of other countries can be considered as an indicator of South Korea’s multi-vector policy.

In addition, the regional organizations of which South Korea is a member, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), were mentioned and it was emphasized that more contributions would be made to these organizations within the scope of regional cooperation. As a matter of fact, this is not only for the states but also for the regional welfare of South Korea. At the same time, it can be said that it shows the importance it gives to organizations.

As a result, it can be argued that the Seoul administration has assigned a serious role to South Asia within the scope of its goal of a free, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region. In this context, it can be stated that the emphasis on India is of great importance both in terms of competition with China and technological progress.

[1] “Strategy for a Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Korea,, (Date of Accession: 08.01.2023).

[2] “Top Heavy: Countries by Share of the Global Economy”, Vısual Capitalist,,Japan%2C%20India%2C%20and%20Germany., (Date of Accession: 15.01.2023).

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.