South Korea, RI optimistic to boost ties
Indonesia and South Korea are already familiar with each other and cooperate strongly. However, both have affirmed their intentions to expand their relations.
Speaking during the celebration of South Korea’s National Day and Armed Forces Day on Friday, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said both countries shared a common desire to advance true peace and prosperity.
Enggartiasto said cordial and beneficial cooperation between the two went beyond economic cooperation as Indonesia would always stand ready to contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“Together we are building a peaceful region based on a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. The celebration took place amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula caused by an ongoing exchange of threats between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump.
While both South and North Korea celebrate National Liberation day on Aug. 15 to mark their liberation from Japanese occupation, South Korea also commemorates Armed Forces Day on Oct. 1 to pay tribute to its military.
Enggiartiasto added that Indonesia was South Korea’s 15th-largest trading partner, while South Korea is Indonesia’s sixth-largest.
Indonesian exports to South Korea dropped to about US$7 billion in 2016 from $7.6 billion in the previous year. Meanwhile, imports fell by 20 percent to $6.67 billion in 2016 from $8.42 billion in 2015.
However, two-way trade between Indonesia and South Korea has shown signs of increasing recently as it reached $9.3 billion in the first half of this year, an increase from last year’s $7.8 billion in the same period.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has made two visits to South Korea since he was elected president in 2014. During his latest visit in May 2016 Jokowi signed seven memoranda of understanding covering maritime issues, the creative industry, anti-corruption, forest restoration, defense technology and others.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to visit Indonesia sometime soon in order to elevate bilateral relations.
People-to-people relations between the two countries have also expanded in recent years with an increase of Indonesians living in South Korea as the country’s movies, fashion and music are also favored by Indonesians. Recent data suggests that about 50,000 Koreans live in Indonesia, making it one of the biggest foreign communities in the archipelago.
“Korea is very famous in Indonesia and I’m impressed how K-pop is very popular among Indonesians,” the ambassador said while showing photos of Korean Pop music concerts in Jakarta.
He also said that in the other side, Indonesia was also famous in Korea as musicians like indie band Mocca had played in Korea recently, adding that a program about Indonesia was quite popular on Korean TV.
Congratulations: Indonesia’s third president, BJ Habibie (center), shakes hands with South Korea’s ambassador to Indonesia, Chao Tai-yong, who was accompanied by his wife, Cho Gye-young (left), during their country’s National Day and Armed Forces Day celebrations in Jakarta on Friday.