Visit of a South Korean Delegation
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The VIF, on 20 April 2017, hosted a six-member delegation from the Policy Planning Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Korea (ROK), to a bilateral interaction, encompassing a broad range of issues of mutual interests - economic and defence cooperation between India and South Korea, potential trajectory in the bilateral relations post May 2017 South Korea’s election for a new President, developments in the Korean Peninsula and their ramifications for security in the broader Asia-Pacific region, an assessment of the US foreign policy towards the region, potential for a Quad plus interaction involving India, the United States, Japan and Australia, among other issues. The Delegation was led by Mr. Ma Sang Yoon, Director-General for Policy Planning Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Korea, and comprised the following members - Mr. Song Jin-Hwa, Prof. Paik Woo-Yeal, Ms. Jung Yeon-Yi, Ms. Jung In-Hee and an unspecified official.

The interaction kicked off with Mr. Skand Tayal, India’s former Ambassador to South Korea, giving away an Indian perspective of how India-South Korea relations have panned out in recent years, noticeably since South Korean President Lee Mayung Bak’s landmark visit to India in 2010. The ‘Strategic Partnership’ agreement that both countries signed during President Lee Mayung Bak’s visit was up-scaled later to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ when Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, visited South Korea in 2015.A slew of agreements signed between the two countries over the past few years clearly indicate the positive direction to which the bilateral relationship is headed. However, the real content of ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ entails both countries jointly undertaking research and co-producing defence equipment in India.

More importantly, he pointed out to the delegation that India is ripe for a second wave Korean investments, especially with assured stable political environment and states vying with each for development. He asked the Koreans not to get too stressed over the POSCO fiasco as political dynamics in India over the last three years have swung towards business friendly environment, with focus on ease of doing business as also a universal tax regime in the offing. He further highlighted that while Hundai, Samsung, LG etc. are already household names in India, South Korea does not have a flagship programme in India similar to Japan’s Suzuki. As India races for development, it offers tremendous scope for South Korean investments in India – high speed trains, smart cities, Make in India, Digital India, among others. Even more importantly, the slowdown in China’s economy and ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Indian government are perfectly timed in so far as South Korea’s investments in India are concerned.

The underlying strategic implications of South Korean investments in India were pretty evident during the interactive session. Both sides expressed their aversion to a single country’s dominance in Asia, an unmistakable reference to China. North Korea figured prominently during the interactive session. While North Korea has the world sitting on edge with its threat of nuclear weapons, its regime survivability depends largely on China. Besides, China has also been supportive towards Pakistan, a country perceived in great distaste around the globe. The interactive session also dwelt in parts on India’s internal political developments and centre-state relations from a perspective of South Korea’s investments in India.

General NC Vij, Director, VIF, summed up the proceedings while exuding optimism for a more robust India-South Korea relations.

Event Date: 
April 20, 2017