With the announcement of Korea-ASEAN Future Community Initiative and the New Southern Policy, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the trends in the perceptions of ASEAN in Korea.

The brief will analyze the level of awareness of ASEAN among Koreans based on the results of a social big data analysis and a survey on mutual perceptions. Based on the analyses, there are several key findings: the terms “ASEAN” and “Southeast Asia” carry different connotations and are used in different contexts among Korean people; Koreans hold a stereotyped image of ASEAN and its people; there is a growing interest towards ASEAN markets; Koreans have a positive perception of ASEAN-Korea relations in general; and perception gap exists among respective ASEAN countries.

Given these findings, it is apparent that there are two potential avenues in successfully carrying forward the New Southern Policy and maintaining a genuine and lasting ASEAN-Korea partnership. First, the concept “ASEAN” needs to be permeated through the Korean society to garner public support for Korea’s policy toward ASEAN. Secondly, in a long-term perspective, support of academic research on the ASEAN region and cultivation of ASEAN experts is required.

These analyses are significant because it raises awareness of ASEAN perception in Korea and will serve as the basis for establishing future policies for public diplomacy.

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ASEAN Talks is a monthly publication produced by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, aiming to provide better understanding on ASEAN for its readers both in and out of Korea. It features articles written by staff members of the Centre on topics including, but not limited to: ASEAN-Korea relations, ASEAN economy, society, and culture.