Indian Defense News has published South
Korea’s Defence Minister Song Young-moo’s views on certain very critical
questions pertaining to the relations between South Korea and India in defence
Some of the critical questions and the
reply of South Korea’s Defence Minister are given below, as found in Indian
How will you harmonise Korea’s New
Southern Policy with India’s Indo-Pacific policy?
I listened to Prime Minister Modi speaking
on the Indo-Pacific at Shangri La and the role India would play. I couldn’t
help but note the similarities with Korea’s New Southern Policy. Under this new
policy stance, Korea is establishing a new form of defence industry cooperation
with South Asia. We are hoping to closely cooperate with India as a key
partner. President Moon Jae-in told the State Council after his visit – “India
is an incredibly important country to us. As such, we must find ways to
strengthen our cooperative relationship to grow stronger together.”
What steps are you taking on defence
We are reviewing a variety of measures to
establish a special defence industry cooperation partnership with India. In
specific, we are highly interested in the plans to set up defence corridors in
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, a part of the ‘Make in India’ policy mentioned by
Prime Minister Modi during DefExpo 2018.
Currently, the Korean defence industry is
looking to establish a presence in the defence corridors and form a real
partnership, once they have established a contract relationship on the weapon
systems that India is interested in. These partnerships will deepen defence
industry cooperation relationship and become the bedrock for India’s organic
Korea recently constructed the Jeju naval
base. India is also looking to build a blue ocean navy and naval base. Is there
prospect for cooperation?
Jeju naval base was a high priority
project during my tenure as a Chief of Naval Operations. It is a stepping stone
in preparation for the next 20 years, towards becoming a blue ocean navy that
will not only serve as a forward base in the waters surrounding northeast Asia,
but also safeguard maritime routes which are critical to Korea’s peace and
prosperity. Furthermore, the naval base was constructed as a civilian-military
hybrid complex so that it can coexist with local residents and contribute to
the local economy.
If India is planning to build a similar
base and wishing for cooperation with Korea, we pledge to participate so that
we can realise India’s vision.
India is currently looking for trainer
aircraft for its Air Force. Is Korea willing to sell KAI’s trainer and fighter
aircraft to India?
Korea produces FA-50 light attack aircraft,
based on KT-1 Basic Trainer and T-50 Advanced Trainer. These trainer and
fighter aircraft have proven their capability, we have already exported these
aircraft and further export negotiation is underway with many governments.
Should India wish to cooperate with Korea
in acquiring air assets, we pledge our active participation in the process. We
would like to further express our intention to pursue multiple avenues of
approach such as technology transfer and establishing joint ventures so that
both countries can develop a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship.
Korea came a long way from a military aid
recipient that could not even make a rifle, to a country that can develop
cutting-edge precision systems on its own. Through Korea’s journey we experienced
many trials, errors and hardships, but we have overcome those to be where we
are today. Korea will continue to support India on its path towards becoming a
world leader in defence industry, without the errors Korea made during its