RoK officials, scholars highlight Vietnam’s role in New Southern Policy hinh anh 1PhD. Lee Jaehyon, a senior fellow at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies (Photo: VNA)

Seoul (VNA) – People from all walks of life in the Republic of Korea (RoK) have spoken highly of Vietnam and its role in the RoK’s New Southern Policy that was introduced by the government of President Moon Jae-in in 2017 to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on the US, China, Japan and the European Union (EU).

Chairman of the RoK Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy Joo Hyung Chul made the comment in an interview given to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Seoul on the threshold of the 2019 ASEAN-RoK Commemorative Special Summit set to take place in the southern city of Busan from November 25 to 26 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between ASEAN and the RoK.

The summit, together with the Mekong-RoK Summit expected to take place right after, is said to be the biggest international event the ROK hosts under the Moon Jae-in administration.

 “I believe that the RoK-Vietnam ties play the most important role in the promotion of  the New Southern Policy and in the push of RoK-Mekong region cooperation as well as the RoK-ASEAN relations”, said Joo, who is also the Adviser to President Moon Jae-in for economic affairs.

According to the official, it can be said that the RoK-Vietnam cooperation ties in recent years have become better than ever and is an ideal model that the RoK-ASEAN, the RoK-Mekong and the New Southern Policy target and pursue.

“Based on the pattern of relations between the two countries, we will push ahead with the non-stop development of cooperation ties with other countries in the Mekong sub-region”, he said, adding that the RoK government would closely work with Vietnam in the process in order to promote and make progress toward the co-prosperity among Vietnam, RoK and the other nations in the Mekong River region.

Sharing the viewpoints, senior fellow at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, Ph D. Lee Jaehyon, stressed the role and position of Vietnam in his country’s New Southern Policy.

“For the success of the New Southern Policy in the second phase starting next year, Vietnam’s contribution is vital”, said the scholar, who specializes on ASEAN and Oceania studies, explaining that Vietnam will be the chair country of ASEAN and non-permanent member of the United Nation Security Council while the RoK enters the second phase of its New Southern Policy.

And in 2020 Vietnam will also coordinate the cooperation between the RoK and Mekong River countries, so Vietnam’s role will be more important, added Joo. 
 “There is a lot of things Vietnam and the RoK can do together regionally and globally’, said the scholar, mentioning Vietnam’s contributions to the peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. “Vietnam has close relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and is one of the best countries able to give the country fundamental advices on opening up, reform and denuclearization”, he explained.

Ambassador Hahn Choonghee, Special Adviser to the RoK Speaker for Foreign Affairs, expressed his hopes that Vietnam can continue contributing to the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. He said the RoK can also plays an important role together with Vietnam in achieving overall peace and security in the Southeast Asia region.

According to him, Vietnam can play an important leading role in moving the commitments and agreements in the Busan summits together with the RoK, in particularly next year Vietnam becomes Chairman of ASEAN.

Meanwhile, the Korean scholar expressed his belief that as the chair of ASEAN, Vietnam will lead ASEAN countries in developing strategic relations with the RoK and the two countries can discuss ways to reduce negative impacts from the ongoing China-US trade war as well as the impact of the strategic competition between the two super powers.

Regarding the RoK-Vietnam current relations, Chol Young Joo, Chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association (KOVIFA), said that since the diplomatic establishment in 1992, the RoK-Vietnam relations have developed in all of the fields, including politics, diplomacy, economy, culture, education, sports and art. 

 “The exchanges and cooperation between the two countries are expanding at the central and local levels”, said KOVIFA Chairman, quoting impressive two-way trade turnover of USD 68.2 billion in 2018, up as many as 130 times from the year 1992.

In the field of economy, Vietnam is the RoK's third largest export market (after China and the US) and the fourth largest trading partner (after China, the US, and Japan).

Meanwhile, in the investment sector, Vietnam has emerged as the RoK's third largest investment destination, pouring in approximately 66.5 billion USD in the Southeast Asia country in the period from January 1988 to June 2019, said the KOVIFA Chairman, who is also Chairman and CEO of Panko Corporation with garment bases in Vietnam’s southern province of Binh Duong and central province of Quang Nam.  

The two nations are witnessing thriving relations in other fields, including socio-culture, education, and people-to-people exchange, he said./.