ASEAN-Korea Relations

Political/Diplomatic Relations
  • Established diplomatic relations with all 10 ASEAN Member States
    ※ North Korea also established diplomatic relations with all 10 ASEAN Member States(simultaneously)
  • Actively held summit and ministerial conferences on the occasion of bilateral visits and multilateral meetings
    ※ In close discussion with major ASEAN countries like Indonesia as a major partner of MIKTA
Trade/People-to-People Exchanges (2017)
  • Trade: US$ 149.07 billion (Export US$ 95.25 billion, Import US$ 53.82 billion, Surplus US$ 41.43 billion) (The 2nd largest trading partner)
  • Investment: US$ 6.2 billion (The 3rd largest investment partner)
  • Construction: US$ 8.8 billion (The 2nd largest overseas construction market, 2016)
  • Visitors: About 9.78 million annually
    - Korea → ASEAN: About 7.64 million (The most popular travel destination)
    - ASEAN → Korea: About 2.14 million

※ Source: KTO, ASEAN, ASEAN-Korea Centre

  • The total trade volume between ASEAN and Korea grew steadily since the global financial crisis in 2009. It temporarily showed signs of stagnation in 2015-2016, but it changed back to recovery from 2017.

<ASEAN-Korea Trade Volume Status>

(Unit: US$ 100 million, %)

Category 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total Trade Volume 750
Export 409
Import 340
Surplus 69 90 186 272 287 312 299 302 414.3

※ Source: KITACountry

(Unit: US$ 100 million, %)

Rank Country Trade Export Import
1 Vietnam 639.3 477.5 161.8
2 Singapore 205.6 116.5 89.1
3 Indonesia 179.7 84.0 95.7
4 Malaysia 167.7 80.5 87.2
5 Philippines 142.9 105.9 37.0
6 Thailand 126.8 74.7 52.1
7 Myanmar 10.3 5.7 4.6
8 Cambodia 8.6 6.0 2.6
9 Brunei 8.6 0.6 8.0
10 Lao PDR 1.2 0.9 0.3

Source: KITA

○ Vietnam ranked top among the ASEAN Member States by recording US$ 63.9 billion of trade volume, followed by Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia


○ Foreign direct investment (FDI) flow from Korea to ASEAN rose about 1.3 times from US$ 3.79 billion in 2008 to US$ 4.84 billion in 2017

<Trend of Foreign Direct Investment Flow from Korea to ASEAN (based on the invested amount)>

(Unit: US$ million, %)

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
ASEAN (A) 3,787 2,128 4,430 4,896 4,574 3,876 4,155 4,387 5,136 4,849 42,218
Total FDI (B) 24,206 20,823 24,812 29,276 28,961 30,626 28,158 30,866 35,250 43,696 296,674
A / B
15.6% 10.2% 17.7% 16.7% 15.8% 12.7% 14.8% 14.2% 14,6% 11.1% 14.2%

※ Source: Korea Eximbank

  • Importance of the ASEAN-Korea Relations
    ○ ASEAN and Korea first established sectoral dialogue relations in November 1989. Korea was accorded full Dialogue Partner status by ASEAN at the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in 1991 in Kuala Lumpur. The year 2004 marked the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) dialogue relations. To commemorate the event and to chart the future of relations in the 21st century, ASEAN and Korea concluded a Joint Declaration at the ASEAN-ROK Summit in 2004 in Vientiane. The Joint Declaration provided a blueprint to advance ASEAN-ROK relations in a more comprehensive and substantive manner.
    ○ In 2005, the Joint Declaration was followed by an agreement on an ASEAN-ROK Plan of Action to promote political security, economic, social, and cultural cooperation and to support ASEAN’s goal for a fully integrated ASEAN community by 2020 (including an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Plan of Action specifically aimed to implement the goals set out in the Joint Declaration.
    ○ In 2009, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Dialogue Partnership between ASEAN and Korea, the ASEAN-Korea Center was established. It was founded in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the 10 ASEAN Member States and Korea at the 11th ASEAN-ROK Summit in 2007.
    ○ During the 13th ASEAN-ROK Summit in 2010 in Ha Noi, the Leaders agreed to elevate ASEAN-ROK dialogue relations from comprehensive cooperation to a strategic partnership and adopted the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-ROK Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity and its Action Plan, which covers the period of 2011-2015.
    ○ In 2017, ASEAN Culture House was established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea as a follow-up project to the 2014 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit. It is currently operated by the Korea Foundation to promote the cultures and societies of ASEAN countries among Koreans.
  • ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund (AKCF)
    ○ Following the establishment of sectoral dialogue relations between ASEAN and Korea in 1989, the Korean government launched the ASEAN-ROK Special Cooperation Fund (SCF) in 1990 with an aim to enhance people-to-people exchanges. In 1996, the ASEAN-ROK Future-Oriented Cooperation Fund (FOCF) was further launched in order to implement cooperation projects outlined in the ASEAN-ROK Plan of Action. In 2015, SCF and FOCF were merged into AKCF with an annual contribution of US$ 7 million. The total scale of contribution was US$ 81 million by the end of 2016.
    ○The overall goal of the New Framework for the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund (AKF) 2017-2020 is to contribute to the realization of the ASEAN Vision 2025 outlined in ASEAN’s Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Community Blueprints, in accordance with the selected priorities laid out in the ASEAN-ROK Plan of Action (2016-2020).
    ○ The ASEAN-ROK Programme Management Team (AKPMT) was established in 2016 under the funding of AKCF. For efficient utilization of overall AKCF, the AKPMT works to ensure the transparent use of project fund under AKCF.
ASEAN-Korea Dialogue Mechanisms
  • ASEAN-ROK Summit
    ○ Since the ASEAN-ROK partnership was elevated to a summit level in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur, relations between ASEAN and Korea have broadened and deepened.
    ○ ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-China, and ASEAN-Japan Summits took place on a regular basis in accordance with the regularization of the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea) Summit following the 2nd ASEAN+3 Summit in 1998.
  • ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting
    ○ The ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) with ASEAN’s 10 Dialogue Partners has become regularized.
    ○ The ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting takes place on the sidelines of the ASEAN-related Ministerial Meeting which is hosted by the ASEAN Secretariat between July and August every year.
  • ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-Korea Consultation
    ○ ASEAN and Korea agreed to use the Consultations for exploring new cooperation projects and coordinating the on-going cooperative activities at the first ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-Korea Consultation in 2004.
    ○ Major topics of discussion include regional, international, and economic issues regarding the free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and Korea, RCEP, as well as the ASEAN-ROK summit.
  • ASEAN-ROK Dialogue
    ○ The ASEAN-ROK Dialogue is a vice-ministerial consultative group that analyzes and discusses ways to develop the ASEAN-ROK cooperation in all areas including politics, security, economy, society, and culture.
    ○ Major topics of discussion include the latest developments in ASEAN and Korea and the Korean Peninsula, the ASEAN-Korea relations, as well as its future direction.
  • ASEAN-ROK Joint Cooperation Committee
    ○ The ASEAN-ROK Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) takes place at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia on a yearly basis to discuss comprehensive cooperative methods in the fields of politics, economy, culture, environment, and education
  • Mekong-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
    ○ Founded in 2010, the Mekong-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting aims to develop cooperation in six areas, namely infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT), green growth, water resource development, agriculture and rural development and human resource development, by strengthening practical cooperation with the Mekong River countries. The Member States include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Korea, and Thailand.
    ○ The Mekong-ROK Action Plan (2017-2020) was adopted at the 7th Mekong-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2017 in Busan. It laid out a three-point partnership visions, namely, ASEAN connectivity, sustainable development, and human-centered development.

※ Sources: ASEAN Outlook by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of Korea (October 2017), ASEAN Secretariat