What's New :
ITS 2025: Integrated Test Series & Mentorship Program for Prelims and Mains. Get Details

India-South Korea

Published: 5th Aug, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka. Both agreed to find common ground between Seoul’s ‘New Southern Policy’ and New Delhi’s ‘Act East Policy’.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka. Both agreed to find common ground between Seoul’s ‘New Southern Policy’ and New Delhi’s ‘Act East Policy’.



  • South Korean President’s “New Southern Policy” (NSP) attached primacy to strengthening the country’s economic and strategic relations with India, as well as the countries of Southeast Asia.
  • It is the first time that South Korea has clearly designed a foreign policy initiative for India and officially documented it.
  • It is an unprecedented move that highlights his government’s desire to shape a new paradigm in Seoul-New Delhi relations.
  • The South Korean government has also adopted an action-oriented approach to upgrade its engagement with India. For example, it has set up a state-run research centre on India and the ASEAN countries under the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA), which is tasked with laying a theoretical foundation for the Moon administration’s policy vision to diversify its strategic partnerships across Asia. 

Pivot to India

  • The South Korean companies in India, such as Samsung, LG Electronics and Hyundai Motor, are undertaking expansion activities.
  • Several new South Korean companies are also entering India. For instance, Kia Motors has signed a MoU to invest about US$ 1.1 billion, which was later enhanced to US$ 2 billion, to build its first factory in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Seoul is also pushing its small and middle-scale companies to enter India in view of tough challenges they are facing in China.
  • They have recently shown its willingness to partner with India’s flagship initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Start-up India’ and ‘Smart Cities Mission’.
  • Other measures being include setting up a New Trade Order Strategy Office, as well as pushing the conclusion of the emerging regional trade mechanism called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in which India is a member.
  • Korean administration has decided to establish the Korea-India Future Strategy Group and the India-Korea Centre for Research and Innovation Cooperation (IKCRI). The latter is expected to provide an institutional framework for cooperation based on research, innovation and entrepreneurship
  • ‘Korea Plus’ mechanism under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) to boost the presence of South Korean companies in India.
  • Various events and campaigns have been organised to create awareness amongst the Korean firms. India is receiving numerous business proposals, that it now plans to upgrade the ‘Korea Plus’ initiative into a ‘Korea Square’ mechanism.

Deepening Strategic Partnership

  • Korea has stressed that India was now his country’s “key partner” in the region and that India should be treated as a major power. India also looks at South Korea as an indispensable partner in its Act East Policy (AEP).
  • The two countries are now working towards a new diplomatic mechanism in the 2+2 format. Once it is operationalised, South Korea would become the third country to hold such a dialogue with India, after Japan and the United States.
  • Several new initiatives are being taken to foster closer people-to-people ties through youth exchange programmes, internships, and facilitation of tourism and business through simplified visa procedures.
  • South Korea has demonstrated its desire to cooperate with India to secure the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the Indian Ocean.
  • The navies of the two countries have held a joint drill in the Indian Ocean with a fleet of South Korean warships visiting India. This was followed by a joint exercise between the coast guards of the two countries.
  • South Korea is exploring ways to become a part of the Indo-Pacific construct.
  • As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), South Korea has supported India’s bid for membership.
  • Co-production of the K9 Thunder howitzer is a prime example of the ongoing defence collaboration.

Challenges and Way forward

  • Trade volume is very low and no efforts are been taken for that. The CEPA is core mechanism of economic ties and to achieve the target it needs to be immediately upgraded.
  • The Indian Cultural has failed to reach out to South Korean’s. There is lack of people to people contact which triggers this issue.
  • Despite the Special Strategic Partnership between South Korea and India there remains scope for expansion of bilateral relations in the strategic sphere.
  • India-South Korea relations has been mostly dominated by economic relations.

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now