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A True Friend Indeed: In Conversation with Korean Ambassador, H.E. Kim Chang-beom

NOW! PEOPLE | 3 March 2020
H.E. Kim Chang-beom, Korean Ambassador to Indonesia. Photo by Raditya Fadilla/NOWJAKARTA

Korean Ambassador, H.E. Kim Chang-beom tells NOW! Jakarta about strengthening bilateral ties with IK-CEPA, Strategic Partnership 2.0 and the ongoing rise of the K Wave.

South Korea and Indonesia enter 2020 hand-in-hand with a strong diplomatic relationship. Please can you share highlights of what you’ve achieved in 2019?

2019 was full of progresses and milestones. We celebrated the 30th year anniversary of our Dialogue Relations with ASEAN, in which Indonesia is the most important and leading country. President Jokowi himself attended the special summit in Busan, where he also met President Moon Jae-in on the sideline to discuss further bilateral relations.

Other tangible and concrete achievements include the IK-CEPA (Indonesia-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), which was finalised at the summit as well.

Hyundai Motors is to set up a complete production plant in Indonesia, which is a huge investment and big input into Indonesia’s auto industry—known so far to be worth USD 1.55 billion. Construction has already started, and the target is to start production of Hyundai Motors built in Indonesia in early 2022. This plant will be the production hub of the whole of ASEAN.

We’ve also had a successful public diplomacy in Indonesia, with one of the many successful programmes being the Deko nan Jawa. Meaning “Korean friends come to Java”, this was a six-day cultural bus tour from Jakarta to Surabaya with three stops, including Cirebon, Brebes and Solo, where we introduced our culture, such as Korean street food in food trucks.

Please tell us what are your major objectives in the agenda for 2020 in view of the Strategic Partnership 2.0?

Indonesia is the one and only nation within ASEAN that’s labelled as Strategic Partnership 2.0, which is the highest category in bilateral relations. This covers a whole range of sectors, including political, security, trade, investment, socio-cultural exchange, R&D and even defence industrial collaboration. This is one of the most comprehensive partnership that our two countries are currently enjoying. I’d like to mention one of our philosophy in the people-to-people exchange, which says “Indonesia dan Korea adalah teman sejati dan sehati”.

This year, we are hoping to substantiate this partnership with even more deliverables. This includes the mentioned IK-CEPA, but also, we are planning on opening our own consulate in Bali to support the most popular destination for Korean tourists, which will be set up sometime in the second half of this year, perhaps in autumn. Third, we are committed to help expedite Indonesia’s transition to Industry 4.0. We’ve signed an MOU with the Minister of Industry, detailing how our research institutions will be working together with the ministry to come up with solution-based research outcomes. We expect to be very productive on this front in the coming year.

Briefly, what are your plans for tourism in 2020? What is the strategy?

The number of Indonesian visitors to Korea was recorded at 280,000 altogether, around an 11% increase in comparison with 2018. We are witnessing a very steady annual growth and I expect this trend to continue. Working together with Indonesian travel agencies and online platforms, we will provide more conveniences and incentives to encourage more visitors to Korea.

For example, we will be organising the Muslim-friendly Korea Festival in late August this year at Kota Kasablanka. We will be conducting a Welcome Week for Indonesian tourists during the upcoming Lebaran season. Of course, there’s also the ongoing Coronavirus, which might be affecting market, but I’m confident we will overcome this soon.

What do you do to unwind?

I enjoyed exploring Indonesia and its many beautiful cultural and natural attractions. It is an indispensable part of our life in Indonesia.

While in Jakarta, me and my wife like to play golf together with our Indonesian friends and other ambassadors. I co-chair the JAGA, which is Jakarta Ambassadors Golf Association, and we are joined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we get together and enjoy the game of golf as well as travelling together from time to time. We would play in Batam, Bintan, Manado, Bali and other destination golf courses. Also, in the weekends, we love to enjoy car-free day on Jalan Sudirman.

Any messages for our readers?

I’d like to thank all our Indonesian friends for loving and sharing the so-called Korean Wave. Without your support and encouragement, this wave cannot be sustained, so we are always thankful for the overwhelming feedback, responses and love from our Indonesian friends.

Thank you, HE Kim Chang-beomSouth Korean Ambassador to Indonesia.