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Researchers from the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) attended the forum on “Envisioning the Future Partnership between Korea and the Philippines within ASEAN” last 5 November 2014 at the AIM Conference Center. Scholars from South Korea and government officials from the Philippines gathered together to discuss how deeper engagement between Philippines and Korea can be achieved in the context of ASEAN, specifically in the political, economic, and socio-cultural realms.

In the political aspect, the speakers emphasized that the strengthening of strategic dialogues between Korea and ASEAN should be reinforced against the backdrop of unstable regional landscapes in Asia. This perceived instability is assumed to be related to the US Pivot in the region and China’s new security architecture, and while Korea remains very active in terms of its participation and leadership in ASEAN-related activities, it continues to face a number of challenges that include: slow implementation rate of the Plan of Action, inadequate mechanisms, and synergy of ASEAN policies and priorities, among others.

In the economic realm, the establishment of AEC is expected to facilitate ASEAN’s economic development, but it has a long way to go in order to complete a single market base. Furthermore, most ASEAN countries have followed an FDI-led industrial development model since the mid-1980s, in which only less than 20 percent is from intra-ASEAN investment.

Socio-culturally, increased people-to-people relations between the Philippines and South Korea can be a basis for cultural cooperation between the two countries. Discrimination against Filipino migrants in South Korea and crimes against South Korean nationals in the Philippines as cultural deficits between the two countries can be addressed by utilizing K-pop (hallyu) as the origin for cooperation in the economic and cultural spheres. Cultural cooperation between the Philippines and South Korea is perceived to be instrumental in the development of each country’s soft power and cultural resources.