The Asia-Pacific region is currently the most dynamic on the planet and the new axis of global power. Its geopolitical importance, its economic dynamism, and its social and cultural vitality are shaping the 21st century. Hence, it is more necessary than ever to forge alliances with our Asian partners and strengthen the relationship with those who share the same principles and values, and who allow us to build a common agenda on that basis.

This is, without a doubt, the case of Korea, a country that has had a historical trajectory similar to that of Spain, having successfully completed a process of transition to democracy in both cases; which has a similar demographic weight, with around 50 million inhabitants; and that it has reached a GDP per capita slightly higher than the Spanish one, of around 34,000 dollars a year.

In international relations, it is key to take advantage of the tailwind and detect opportunities that allow for closer ties. In the case of Spain and Korea, these opportunities are numerous, and they have become increasingly evident in recent years: on the one hand, with the increase in high-level visits, particularly that of SS.MM. the Kings in October 2020 and that of President Moon in June 2021; on the other, with economic and commercial exchanges that continue to grow, and that in 2019 reached 5,300 million dollars; and, finally, with the increasing interest in the Spanish culture and language in Korea and vice versa.

In this process of mutual rapprochement between Spain and Korea, the contribution of civil society has been essential. If our two countries have so much in common today, it is largely thanks to sectors such as the academic, associative or business sectors, as well as the Spanish and Korean communities that contribute to the diversity of our respective societies. For all these reasons, a debate forum was created in 2003, under the name of the Spain-Korea Tribune, which has allowed all these communities to debate topics of interest and continue making valuable contributions to our bilateral relations.

This week we have the opportunity to celebrate the 14th edition in Seoul under the title: “New dynamics in Europe and Asia-Pacific”. Casa Asia, on the Spanish side, and Fundación Corea, on the Korean side, are the two organizing entities, and the motor of a meeting that on this occasion will revolve around topics such as geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific, the rupture of the supply chain caused by the pandemic and more recently by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, disability, or the promotion of Spanish and Korean. The closing ceremony will be carried out by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, who is visiting the country, which demonstrates the political support at the highest level for a public diplomacy initiative such as the Tribunes.

Spain and Korea are like those mixed marriages that do not stop presenting a certain degree of exoticism but that share similar codes and complement each other. At first glance, they may seem like strange dance partners, but in practice they are in great harmony and connect perfectly. In both countries there is undoubtedly that desire to discover the distant other, which is in some way a reflection of ourselves, although for this we have had to go to the other end of that great continental mass that we call Eurasia to find ourselves.