Indonesia’s ‘Down To Earth” Foreign Policy Approach To Peace On The Korean Peninsula – OpEd


Indonesia’s foreign policy, known as “Down to Earth,” is characterized by pragmatism, neutrality, and non-intervention. The objective of this essay is to explore the intricacies of Indonesia’s foreign policy and its strategic role in promoting peace between North and South Korea.

Indonesia’s foreign policy is deeply influenced by its role in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The principles of neutrality and non-intervention, which are the foundation of NAM, shape Indonesia’s diplomatic approach. By embracing these principles, Indonesia can maintain an unbiased position, making it well-suited to mediate conflicts, such as the one on the Korean Peninsula. Indonesia’s history of mediating regional conflicts and advocating for peaceful resolutions further highlights its dedication to achieving peace and stability through diplomatic means

Indonesia’s central role in the Korean Peninsula can be attributed to its expertise and reputation as a mediator in diplomatic affairs. Indonesia goes beyond merely facilitating discussions and places emphasis on cultivating comprehension and trust among the parties involved. Its impartiality lends credibility to its stance as a mediator, effectively bridging the long-standing mistrust between North and South Korea.

Economic exchanges are crucial components of Indonesia’s foreign policy. The promotion of trade and Indonesian investment aims to establish economic interdependence between North and South Korea. This interdependence serves as a stabilizing force, reducing the likelihood of conflicts due to the mutual benefits of economic cooperation. Furthermore, fostering cultural exchanges strengthens interpersonal connections and establishes a foundation of mutual respect and understanding that transcends political tensions.

ASEAN provides Indonesia with a valuable opportunity to engage with regional actors, including North and South Korea. It allows for dialogue, cooperation, and the exchange of ideas within a multilateral framework. Indonesia’s active involvement strengthens ASEAN’s role as a bridge builder for the Korean Peninsula, as it can leverage regional cooperation to enhance peace and stability.  Indonesia’s well-known policy of “Down to Earth” uniquely positions it as a potential bridge builder for the Korean Peninsula. Guided by pragmatism, neutrality, and non-intervention, Indonesia is committed to stability and peace. Through diplomatic mediation, economic and cultural exchanges, and engagement through the ASEAN platform, Indonesia plays a strategic role in fostering peace between North and South Korea. Indonesia’s membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) enhances its potential as a peacebuilder. By leveraging its influence within ASEAN, Indonesia can promote regional peace initiatives to contribute to stability on the Korean Peninsula. ASEAN’s voice adds weight to broader peace efforts, providing regional support and encouraging dialogue between North and South Korea. Indonesia’s coordination with ASEAN members ensures a unified approach, thereby increasing the effectiveness of peacebuilding.

Strengthening bilateral relations with both North and South Korea is a critical component of Indonesia’s strategy. Through consistent and balanced diplomacy, Indonesia has built frameworks and fostered trust and cooperation with these countries. This approach ensures that Indonesia is perceived as an unbiased partner capable of understanding and addressing the concerns of both Koreas.

Humanitarian assistance is a significant aspect of Indonesia’s policy. By providing aid to North Korea, Indonesia aims to alleviate humanitarian crises and reduce tensions. This assistance is not only about immediate relief but also about building goodwill and demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of the North Korean people. Indonesia’s approach aligns with international humanitarian efforts, reinforcing its role as a compassionate and responsible global actor.

Educational and technological collaborations are crucial to Indonesia’s strategy for fostering long-term peace. These collaborations empower Indonesian individuals and institutions in both North and South Korea through educational exchanges and capacity-building programs. By promoting knowledge sharing and technological innovation, these initiatives drive development that benefits all parties involved. They also lay the foundation for sustained engagement and cooperation, which are essential for lasting peace. 

Indonesia’s advocacy for denuclearization and disarmament of the Korean Peninsula demonstrates its commitment to global peace and security. By supporting the United Nations and international peacebuilding initiatives, Indonesia aligns itself with broader global efforts. These initiatives are part of a comprehensive framework for enhancing international peace and security, which adds to their legitimacy and impact.

Indonesia’s diplomatic efforts are characterized by a commitment to inclusive dialogue involving a wide range of stakeholders. This approach goes beyond government officials and includes civil society leaders, business parties, and other relevant stakeholders. By incorporating diverse perspectives and addressing the complexities of conflict, inclusive dialogue leads to more comprehensive and sustainable peace strategies.

Cultural diplomacy also plays a significant role in Indonesia’s policy. Organizing cultural events and exchanges fosters goodwill and mutual understanding among people, reaching a deeper level than traditional diplomatic channels. This people-centric approach creates a strong and lasting foundation for peace and cooperation.

Indonesia’s history of neutrality and expertise in conflict resolution provides a solid basis for its peacebuilding efforts. Drawing upon valuable lessons and strategies from past experiences, Indonesia offers relevant insights and enhances its credibility as a mediator for the Korean Peninsula. Finally, Indonesia’s long-term vision prioritizes the attainment of sustainable peace and stability. Its ongoing strategic plans aim to provide continuous support and engagement in peacebuilding efforts in the region.

In conclusion, Indonesia’s strong position as a mediator in Peninsula Korea is due to its pragmatic and neutral foreign policy. The country’s principles of non-alignment, diplomatic mediation, economic and cultural exchanges, as well as its role within ASEAN, all contribute to facilitating dialogue and fostering peace between North and South Korea. Additionally, balanced bilateral relations, humanitarian efforts, educational collaborations, and a commitment to inclusive dialogue and cultural diplomacy further enhance Indonesia’s capabilities in peacebuilding. Drawing on its historical and neutral long-term vision, Indonesia offers a sustainable and comprehensive framework for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.


  • Weatherbee, D. E. (2013). International Relations in Southeast Asia: The Struggle for Autonomy. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Vatikiotis, M. (1993). Indonesian Politics Under Suharto: Order, Development and Pressure for Change. Routledge.
  • Acharya, A. (2014). Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order. Routledge.

Simon Hutagalung

Simon Hutagalung is a retired diplomat from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and received his master's degree in political science and comparative politics from the City University of New York. The opinions expressed in his articles are his own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *