Making the foundation of mutual prosperity
In 1989, Harvard University Prof. Joseph Nye predicted that the 21st century would be the age of soft power. Soft power is the ability to attract and influence nations with culture and the arts, as opposed to the hard power of military force or economic sanctions.
On Dec. 11, 2014, the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit kicked off in Busan. It celebrated the 25th anniversary of ties between Asean and Korea, which began in 1989. Aside from the timely coincidence of 1989, Korea and Asean have shared the transition into soft power advocated by Professor Nye. Asean is the origin of the great force called the Korean Wave, and the force continues to keep Korea close to Asean member states. In fact, visitors from Asean countries to Korea are growing every year, from 1 million in 2010 to 1.55 million last year.
In cultural industries, Korea and Asean member states are cooperating in news and broadcasting content and program exchanges. A joint sports educator training program is also in place, enhancing sports diplomacy. Also, cultural partnership, invitation of outstanding Asian artists, Asean-Korea culture and arts forum, and an Asean children’s library staff program keep Asean and Korea closer.
Asean is an important partner in politics and economy for Korea. As Korea needs to win support from the international community on various issues - from the North Korean nuclear issue to the naming of the East Sea - we can never neglect the role of Asean.
Until now, Korea and Asean have come closer to each other through a number of meetings. At the Commemorative Summit on Dec. 11 and 12, the Korean government promised to upgrade the strategic partnership with Asean into a partnership of trust and happiness. We hope to make the foundation of mutual prosperity and development even more solid. The basis will be culture. When the soft power of culture is highlighted, the relationship between Korea and Asean will become stronger and stronger as time goes by.
*Kim Hee-beom First vice minister of culture, sports and tourism