South Korea needs a paradigm shift in its traditional diplomatic and security strategies to secure its strategic autonomy in new strategic areas - such as the Indo-Pacific region, cyber domain, emerging technologies, and space - and to guarantee its survival and prosperity while enhancing its national value. To achieve this strategic goal, South Korea, with its advanced ICT technologies and economic capabilities, should strengthen cooperation with ASEAN to ensure the autonomy of its diplomatic and security strategies and develop the flexibility to demonstrate its geopolitical value in new areas.
South Korea should also shift its perception of ASEAN countries as mere destinations of economic interest and strive to enhance its emerging security cooperation with ASEAN to secure its diplomatic and security autonomy and establish a strategic area. In other words, the government should incorporate a flexible and transformative stance in performing its role as ASEANS’s emerging security cooperation partner to guarantee regional peace, ensure social safety and protect people's lives from the threats of climate change, infectious diseases, food shortages, cyber attacks, adverse effects of emerging technologies, and resource/energy shortages.
Globalization and industrialization brought about new risk factors, which through quantitative and qualitative transformations, can develop into critical issues threatening national security. Emerging security refers to the security-wise response to such critical issues. According to the features, speed of proliferation, and responding actors of emerging security threats, it is possible to derive management models for environmental security, health security, cyber security, and resource (energy/food) security.
New security threats emerge at the initial development stage of a sector. However, through a quantitative and qualitative accumulation process, such threats may increase beyond a critical point and expand to unconnected sectors. The repetition of such a phenomenon can create a dynamic that generates geopolitical issues and conflicts. Thus, it is crucial to establish a response model for each phase and actor to prevent new threats from escalating into macro-level geopolitical security threats. In other words, ASEAN-Korea emerging security cooperation should focus on each stage of the emerging security threat cycle: initial development-criticality-proliferation.
In order to build a model to strengthen the emerging security cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN, it is necessary to consider the governance structure and securitization process of the ASEAN member states in response to emerging security threats, along with each member’s stance on the global bipolar order. The contents of emerging security cooperation should reflect each stage of the securitization process (initial development–criticality-proliferation). Environmental security, health security, cyber security, and resource security are sectors that receive humanitarian assistance and administrative cooperation. However, cooperation with diplomatic, security, and military means must also be guaranteed to strengthen emerging security cooperation. The possible provision of humanitarian assistance and administrative cooperation in the initial development stage of securitization raises the need to consider diplomatic, security and military cooperation in the criticality and proliferation stages.