AKC chief outlines vision to strengthen ties with ASEAN countries

By Park Ung Posted : June 13, 2024, 15:29 Updated : June 26, 2024, 14:30
Kim Jae-shin the 6th Secretary General of The ASEAN-Korea CentreAKC Courtesy of the AKC
Kim Jae-shin, chief of the ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC), poses for a photo in his office in Seoul.
SEOUL, June 13 (AJU PRESS) - The Southeast Asian region with a combined population of over 600 million is emerging as one of Korea's key business markets. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic union of 10 states in the region, includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Viet Nam.

The ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC) in Seoul has been crucial in expanding economic and cultural exchange between Korea and these ASEAN countries.

In April this year, Kim Jae-shin, a former Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, took office as the head of the intergovernmental organization. The veteran diplomat explained the AKC's mission, future goals and how to achieve them.

"The AKC's main goal is to strengthen relations with the ASEAN countries through sincere friendship and long-term collaboration," Kim told Aju Press in an interview on Wednesday.

He emphasized the importance of enhancing ties further, as this year marks the 35th anniversary of establishing relations.

To achieve this, the AKC has been implementing more than two dozen projects in diverse areas. They vary from meetings of high-level officials to explore business opportunities between them and other areas of cooperation, to various exchange programs showcasing the unique cultures of each country.

To promote trade, a week-long event featuring diverse ASEAN food is set to kick off this weekend at Lotte Department Store in Sogong-dong, central Seoul.

The International Conference on ASEAN-Korea Partnership to be held in Seoul in November is expected to culminate the AKC’s such efforts.

"I am committed to continuously interacting with relevant organizations and stakeholders to develop a mutually beneficial relationship," Kim said. "This commitment will be realized by successfully implementing the AKC's programs."

Kim also stressed that the AKC is also committed to taking initiatives on boosting tourism in collaboration with the ASEAN countries through a workshop like the ASEAN-Korea Quality Tourism Development Towards Sustainability.

The inaugural program of such initiatives will take place in Malaysia in July. Tourism is particularly important as ASEAN is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Koreans, making up the second-largest group of foreign visitors there. In 2019, before the COVID-19, over 2.3 million Southeast Asians also visited Korea.

The AKC also strives to raise public awareness and deepen understanding of ASEAN countries through various programs. One notable effort is the annual exhibition known as ASEAN Week, which has been held since 2019.

The exhibition showcases ASEAN countries' diverse cultures and tourist attractions, serving as a key event highlighting the ASEAN's rich cultural heritage and tourism.

"The AKC's role is especially crucial as ASEAN and Korea anticipate elevating their relations to a 'Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP)' this year," Kim said. "We are also dedicated to developing and implementing innovative and effective programs to contribute to the ever-growing ASEAN-Korea relations."
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