‘Indonesia looks to shared prosperity with Korea’

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Oct 2, 2017 - 15:48
  • Updated : Oct 2, 2017 - 16:14

The Indonesian Embassy marked the 72nd anniversary of the country’s independence last week, commemorating the spirit of national self-determination, peaceful coexistence and social justice that has buttressed thriving cooperation with key partners worldwide, and South Korea in particular.

The national day celebrating Indonesia’s proclamation of independence from colonial Netherlands falls on Aug. 17, but the diplomatic mission held the reception on Sept. 28 for maximum attendance, the embassy told The Korea Herald. Indonesia declared its right to sovereign rule on the day in 1945, marking the start of diplomatic and armed resistance against forces of the Netherlands and pro-Dutch civilians, who officially acknowledged the country’s independence in 1949.

“August 17 is an important day for Indonesia, when all our people were freed from the bondage of a foreign occupation,” said Indonesian Ambassador to Korea Umar Hadi in a speech at Lotte Hotel on Thursday. “This declaration conveyed a strong message that colonialism had no place in the world. The spirit of independence has also inspired decolonization efforts all around the globe.”

Indonesia’s constitution explicitly mandates the nation’s commitment to fully participating in and contributing to a world order based on freedom, peace and social justice, he stressed, adding that his country has actively taken part in various peacekeeping operations of the United Nations since 1957. 

Indonesian Ambassador to Korea Umar Hadi (center, top with a hat) poses with Indonesian diplomats and embassy staff at a National Day reception marking the proclamation of independence on Thursday. (Indonesian Embassy)

Currently, there are some 2,800 Indonesian military, police and civilian personnel on UN peacekeeping missions and the number is expected to reach over 4,000 by 2019, according to the envoy. 

“This commitment to freedom, peace and social justice is the underlying pillar of our foreign policy,” Hadi stressed. “Indonesia is also a strong proponent of moderation and tolerance. We are living proof that democracy, Islam and modernity can flourish together.”

Touching on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where Indonesia is the largest country in terms of economy and population size -- over $1 trillion and 261 million people -- the ambassador argued that ASEAN has become an influential regional organization promoting peace and prosperity “not by accident, but by design,” on the basis of a collective responsible leadership.

The archipelago nation of some 17,000 islands spanning three time zones has the world’s seventh-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook. One of the world’s leading emerging markets, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers has projected its economy to reach the status of the world’s fourth-largest by 2030.

Hadi said Indonesia’s economic growth cannot continue without investing in various infrastructures, equally distributing wealth and weeding out corruption and promoting good governance -- top policy priorities of the current government under Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. 

Indonesian artists at the National Day reception at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Thursday marking the proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945. (Indonesian Embassy)

“The Republic of Korea is one of our most important economic partners,” the ambassador highlighted, noting “significant improvements” have been made across almost all sectors, particularly after the two countries became strategic partners in 2006. 

Jakarta and Seoul established diplomatic ties in 1973. The bilateral trade volume reached nearly $15 billion last year, with Indonesia being Korea’s 14th largest trade partner and Korea being Indonesia’s sixth largest trade partner.

“In light of dynamic changes taking place around the world, our two countries bear the responsibility to play a greater role in promoting sustainable peace and development on regional and global levels,” he asserted. “To this end, our strategic partnership, based on action-oriented, forward-looking objectives, is poised to advance further over the coming decades.”

CJ Co-chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, who spoke at the event, said Indonesia is “a country of great potential, with its rich natural resources and a large population.”

“Indonesia is turning its potential into remarkable achievements, and beginning to make vigorous strides to become an economic powerhouse in Asia,” he said. “Indonesia is also a good country to do business. The government encourages foreign investment and maintains political stability.”

There are many Korean enterprises operating in the Indonesian market, Sohn pointed out, mentioning that the CJ Group has successfully expanded operations into biotechnology, animal feed, cinema, franchise and logistics since launching business there in 1988.

By Joel Lee (

Indonesian artists at the National Day reception at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Thursday marking the proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945. (Indonesian Embassy)