The shameful behavior of President and Mrs. Yoon… Dangerous Report Card
It was 17 years ago, when I first came to Singapore. I immigrated with my family, and one of the first things I did was send my kids to school, but the fees were different for different nationalities. Singaporeans were the cheapest, followed by permanent residents, and the most expensive were foreigners. Foreigners were also divided into two groups. Foreigners from ASEAN countries were cheaper, while other foreigners paid nearly 100 times more than Singaporeans.
Primary school fees in Singapore. There is a large difference in the amount by nationality, and foreigners are also divided into ASEAN and non-ASEAN.
I misread “ASEAN” as “ASIAN” and thought it meant that we from South Korea were getting cheaper tuition because we were Asian. It wasn’t until it was time to pay that I realized that ASEAN doesn’t mean Asian, but rather the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. So what is ASEAN and why do Singaporean schools only give cheaper tuition to people from that country? In case you’re like me 17 years ago and don’t know much about ASEAN, here’s a quick introduction to the organization.
ASEAN, not Asian
ASEAN is a regional economic community of 10 countries in Southeast Asia, a loose federation of nations similar to the European Union. The members are Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines, and together they have a combined population of over 670 million people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of over $3.3 trillion as of 2021.
ASEAN has its roots in the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), which was founded in 1961 by the three countries of Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia with the goal of preventing the spread of communism and jointly responding to international affairs. In 1967, Singapore and Indonesia joined the ASA to become ASEAN, as changes in regional politics, such as the outbreak of the Vietnam War and Singapore’s independence, created the need for an expanded Southeast Asian union.
Later, Brunei joined after gaining its independence, and in the 1990s, as the Cold War ended and the organization’s initial purpose of stopping the spread of communism became less relevant, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and other socialist countries joined, bringing the organization to its current 10-member state.
In 2015, the organization launched the ASEAN Community, comprising the ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Social and Cultural Community (ASCC). ASEAN’s permanent secretariat is located in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and its highest decision-making body, the Summit, is held annually.
ASEAN Overview. The combined population of the 10 ASEAN countries is second only to China and India.
ⓒ ASEAN-Korea Centre
Korea established a Sectoral Dialogue Partnership with ASEAN in 1989, which was upgraded to a Full Dialogue Partnership in 1991. For reference, ASEAN has only 10 full dialog partners.
In 1997, the ASEAN-Korea Summit and the ASEAN+3 (Korea, China, and Japan) Summit were held simultaneously, bringing Korea and ASEAN closer together먹튀검증. In addition, successive governments have made great efforts to deepen ties with ASEAN, including signing the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement, adopting the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Korea Strategic Partnership, dispatching special envoys to ASEAN, and opening the ASEAN Cultural Center in Busan.
Especially in 2017, when President Moon Jae-in declared the ‘New Southern Policy’ and announced the ‘ASEAN-Korea Future Community Vision’, our distance with ASEAN increased dramatically. Until then, our diplomacy was centered on finding a balance between the four major powers (US, China, Russia, and Japan) surrounding the Korean Peninsula, but the declaration of the New Southern Policy brought our diplomacy with ASEAN to the same level as the existing four powers. It can be evaluated as a major change in our diplomacy along with the ‘Northern Policy’ of the Roh Tae-woo government.
Our largest export market after China
The diplomatic efforts of previous governments have paid off economically. From a mere $8.2 billion in 1989, Korea’s trade with ASEAN increased 25-fold to $207.4 billion in 2022. The trade balance with ASEAN has never been in deficit on an annualized basis since 2000, resulting in a surplus of $42.3 billion with ASEAN in 2022, when Korea’s overall trade balance was in deficit by $47.2 billion.
Trade volume with ASEAN since 2000. Overall, it’s a big growth trend, and the amount of trade in 2022 was the highest ever.
ⓒ Lee Bong-ryul
ASEAN is our largest export market after China, surpassing the United States in terms of economic area. It is the second largest destination for overseas investment and the first largest market for construction orders. The number of people exchanging visits between the two sides exceeds 12 million annually.
In the midst of the US-China conflict, our trade balance with China has long since turned into a surplus, and with Japan we have always been in deficit, so ASEAN has been a major contributor to our declining trade balance. ASEAN continues to be an attractive alternative for Korean exports because it has a huge consumer market with the world’s third-largest youth population, abundant natural resources, fast-established global production centers, and a competitive tourism industry.
In addition, there is a positive perception of Korea, influenced by the Korean Wave. Korean dramas are always at the top of the list on Netflix, and Blackpink’s recent concert was packed with 55,000 Southeast Asian fans. Singapore’s largest beer brand, Tiger, blends beer with Korean soju, and McDonald’s has a whole menu of hamburgers with Korean names. Indonesia is also home to the largest number of BTS fans, the Ami.
But did we mention hosadama? It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Under Yoon Seok-yul’s government, some uncomfortable things have started to happen. 10 different things