BANGKOK --- South Korean defense companies are seeking to expand their presences in Southeast Asian and Pacific markets. Twenty-one South Korean firms including Poongsan, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), Kovico and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) are participating in an international defense exhibition called Defense & Security 2019 which kicked off Monday and will continue until Thursday at Bangkok's IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center.
Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo visited the exhibition to support the participating South Korean businesses, as he was in Bangkok for the 6th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), a platform for ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners for more practical defense cooperation in the Asian-Pacific region.
Noting that threats in the global security environment today range from natural disasters and large-scale catastrophes to cyberattacks and terrorism, Jeong said advanced weapon systems and equipment can help to counter such threats. Jeong was facilitating such talks with his foreign counterparts during his visit to the Southeast Asian country.
"I felt proud to see South Korean companies performing well in the region and it made me think more about how I could help them as defense minister," Jeong said. He visited each booth of the South Korean firms and expressed support for their activities in Thailand and other countries.
Jeong was briefed on pending export issues and difficulties the industry faces in seeking governmental-level support to solve them.
South Korea is seeking to expand defense cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia and India, under the New Southern Policy announced by President Moon Jae-in in 2017 during his visits to Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines for the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and 2017 ASEAN Plus Three and East Asia Summit (EAS) meetings.
Thailand, in particular, is a key country for Moon's policy in the region. Seoul and Bangkok also signed their own General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in early September during Moon's visit to the country. Moon and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed to increase defense cooperation.
An opening ceremony held at the IMPACT Lakeside featured three Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) FA-50 light combat jets, procured from South Korea's KAI. The RTAF is currently operating six FA-50 fighter jets and waiting to receive six more from the company.
The opening ceremony included a demonstration by the Thai military of its counterterrorism operations including rescuing hostages from terrorists and transporting the injured to hospitals.
While ASEAN countries offer a lot of marketing opportunities as they are starting to spend more on defense, about 450 defense businesses from 45 countries from around the world are participating in the Defense & Security 2019, the ninth event since it was first staged in 2003.