Recent Developments on the Korean peninsula and Australia Korea relations

EVENT VIDEO: On Tuesday 27 November, the AIIA (NSW) welcomed Ambassador Taeyong Cho to the Glover Cottages to discuss recent developments within Korea and on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the future of the relationship with Australia and its impacts on our economic, political and strategic partnership.

South Korea will head to the polls in December in what has become a race of three between Park Geuen-Hee, Moon Jae-In and Ahn Cheol-Soo. In the past few days, the candidates have held press conferences to explain their ideas for dealing with North Korea during the coming five years – a period that includes the handover of war time command from the US to South Korea. Meanwhile, the inaugural Seoul Defence Dialogue (SDD) was launched Nov. 15, bringing together 15 Asia Pacific countries, the EU and various NGOs.

Security on the Korean peninsula has been an enduring threat, escalated by North Korean brinkmanship, nuclear development and sudden succession. But Seoul has more than Pyongyang to worry about. The domestic economy is the major issue as Seoul seeks to find a successful model to take over from the investment-export one that has served the country well for two decades on the back of electronics, infrastructure and shipbuilding. But now South Korea is facing downside risks amid overall economic slowdown in the West but so too of its neighbour, China.

South Korea is Australia’s fourth largest overall trading partner (totalling $32.7 billion in 2011 and equalling to more than 5 per cent of Australia’s international trade). Last year marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and South Korea. Our two countries are firm friends who share common values and mutual interests. On a strategic level, increased maritime competition in East Asia has solidified the diplomatic and military relationship, Australia has named South Korea as one of five counties that will have specific diplomatic strategies formulated. Both support a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and regard the continued commitment of the United States to the Asia-Pacific as critical to stability and prosperity.

Ambassador Cho was appointed as Ambassador-Designate to Australia upon the arrival in Canberra on 8 September 2011. Previously, he was the deputy minister and chief of Protocol within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT). From 2007 to 2009, he served in Dublin as ambassador to Ireland. Ambassador Cho served as director-general for North American affairs (2006) and director-general for North Korean nuclear issues and deputy Head of the Republic of Korea’s delegation to the Six Party Talks (2004-2005). Ambassador Cho served at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in New York (1984-1987), at the Korean Embassy to Iraq (1990-1991), to the United States (1994-1997), and to Thailand (1997-2000). He received his BA in Political Science from Seoul National University in Seoul and studied in the Foreign Service Program at Oxford University.

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