Busan (FN), Nov. 27 – South Korea opened a summit with the five Mekong River countries in Busan on Wednesday, calling them "core development cooperation partners." The summit was held at the seaside Nurimaru APEC House conference hall in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is co-chair of the session also involving Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen canceled his trip to Busan this week, citing his mother-in-law's poor health.

Although Premier Hun Sen was absent, Moon thanked him for proposing the South Korea-Mekong summit replace an annual ministerial meeting that began in 2011.

South Korea is willing to share its experience on the Miracle on the Han River, which refers to its rapid economic growth after the 1950-53 Korean War, with the Mekong five: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

If South Korea's experience is combined with the "dynamics" of the Mekong region, the Miracle on the Han River will lead to the Miracle of the Mekong River, President Moon Jae-in said at the start of the group summit.

"South Korea will be with Mekong, with a belief that the development of Mekong is that of South Korea," he added.

"Mekong has become a land of opportunity," Moon said, adding South Korea has become a "special friend" of Mekong, as it has forged relations of co-prosperity with ASEAN in preparation for the Asia-Pacific era.

South Korea-Mekong trade volume totalled USD 84.5 billion in 2018, a 2.4 times increase over eight years.

"Mekong has become a core development partner" to account for 20 percent of South Korea's official development assistance (ODA), the president noted.

The Mekong summit followed the two-day ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit at the BEXCO convention center in Busan to mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of their dialogue relationship.

Moon hosted an official welcoming dinner for the Mekong leaders Tuesday. (Yonhap)