India-South Korea

India-South Korea relations have made rapid strides in recent years. With the convergence of India’s Act East Policy (AEP) and South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP), there has been an acceleration of economic and strategic relations between the two countries.


The Vision of the New Southern Policy

  • The Korean government’s New Southern Policy aims to cultivate its relations with ASEAN and India as key partners in the southern region, raise this partnership to the level of Korea’s traditional four major diplomatic partners (the U.S., China, Japan, Russia), develop values that can be empathized with others, and build a mutually prosperous “peoplecentered” community.
  • The New Southern Policy aims to form a multilateral economic and diplomatic framework to adjust to the U.S.’s priority on domestic concerns, which has been in full swing since the inauguration of the Trump administration, and to the expansion of China’s influence across East Asia.
  • The New Southern Policy emphasizes the so-called “3P community,” which stands for a community of People, Prosperity and Peace.


Bilateral relations:

  • Bilateral relations between India and South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, were established in 1962 and upgraded to Ambassador-level in 1973.
  • South Korea’s open market policies found resonance with India’s economic liberalization, and its ‘look east policy’ and ‘act east policy’.
  • The relations has become truly multidimensional, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high level exchanges.
  • During PM Modi’s visit to ROK in May 2015, the sides elevated the ties to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’.
  • President Moon’s India visit marked the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.
  • Cooperate with India in areas like the Indian ocean region
  • This kind of bond between the two countries strengthens bilateral cooperation.


Why India is important for South-Korea?

  • One of the points that the Koreans have been making to India is that they see India as a country that is now strategically important to them
  • South Korea also finds in India a very acceptable partner.
  • India doesn’t have edges which can create problems for them. They are aware of one factor which they have grown up with, which is the Pakistan factor.
  • With new issues cropping up in ties with China and America, export-driven South Korea must find new markets.
  • South Korea’s economic growth has slowed, presenting it with important challenges.
  • South Korea is targeting economies with the greatest growth potential like India.
  • South Korea is too heavily dependent on China’s market. So diversification is essential for South Korea.
  • Moon sees India as central to NSP’s success.
  • Need cooperation for development in third countries, like capacity building programmes in Afghanistan.


Commercial relations:

  • Very strong trade and investment relationship between India and South Korea.
  • Modi personally inaugurated the Samsung factory in Noida, which will be one of the largest electronic manufacturing plants in the country.
  • The economic imperatives are very strong between India and South Korea. Both India and South Korea have not been able to realize their potential till now.
  • Economic engagement constitutes the core of our
  • Trade and economic relations between India and South Korea gathered momentum after the implementation of CEPA in 2010.
  • A civil nuclear cooperation agreement was signed in 2011.
  • Korean majors like Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia have invested over $5 billion in India.
  • From an Indian perspective, it is important to note that India has been deficient in the production of core technologies. We have been good in services, however, we have been lacking in core technologies. However, if we were to cooperate with South Korea, and if we move in a particular direction, there is definitely space for both to work



  • Both India and South Korea are concerned about China’s rise, especially when China becomes assertive.
  • Both are increasingly worried about Chinese electronic presence in India.
  • There are some basic problems which the leaders of India and South Korea would have to tackle. This is also related to the trust between the businesses of India and the businesses of South Korea.
  • the trust level between the business community of the two countries isn’t at the level where it should be.
  • Despite the formal announcement of a strategic partnership a decade ago, Delhi and Seoul have struggled to impart some real content into it.
  • For India, which has begun to adopt the notion of an Indo-Pacific, Korea has not been at top of its regional priorities in Asia.
  • Prosperity brought by globalisation to Asia over the recent decades is under stress.
  • India has also been complaining about a 50 billion USD trade deficit.


Way Forward:

  • India and South Korea should regularize their summit meetings and that they meet more frequently at the highest level. This will give directions to the business and industry in each country to work together.
  • South Korea is the most technologically advanced nation in Asia after Japan. Therefore, bringing them Japan on board would be an absolute boost to India’s ability to become a more powerful nation.
  • There is an urgent need to strengthen economic partnership. As a trade war unfolds between US and China, Delhi and Seoul need to liberalise their own bilateral trade relations.
  • India would need to work with South Korea on new generation technologies and core technologies, while at the same time consolidating the existing relationship.
  • The two sides also need to focus on expanding bilateral security and defence cooperation and working together with other countries to promote a stable Asian balance of power system.
  • Delhi and Seoul should focus on building flexible middle power coalitions in Asia to limit the impact of the current volatility in the relations between US and China.
  • The business community of both countries must leverage opportunities arising from complementarities between the two economies to enhance investment, to promote joint ventures, and to work towards the goal of raising bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030″.
  • At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region.