East Asia Compass

Enhancing India-South Korea Relations

16 Jul, 2018    ·   5494

Dr Sandip Kumar Mishra weighs in on the bilateral relationship in light of President Moon Jae-in's recent visit to India

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited in India for a four-day trip from 8 to 11 July 2018, and both the countries resolved to add more substance to their partnership. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Moon Jae-in re-emphasised the natural partnership in which mutual complementarities have been key in bringing both countries close to each other in the last three decades. India and South Korea have decided to widen and deepen their relations and give it a big top-down push. In fact, business and people-to-people exchanges have incrementally grown between the two countries. However, it has not been sufficient to fully realise the vast potential of the India-South Korea partnership. Special and sustained top-level has allegedly been missing. The leadership of both countries have been rather occupied in their neighborhoods as well as with their relationships with the big powers. The space to give more attention to each other has been limited despite the intention to do so.

President Moon has made a serious attempt to overcome this limitation. After assuming office in May 2017, he sent his special envoys to India and Southeast Asian countries, and also sent four other envoys to the US, China, Japan and Russia. It was the first time a South Korean president gave an important place to India through the act of sending a special envoy. Subsequently, Moon announced his New Southern Policy, which sought to increase South Korea