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Speeches and Contributions

Congratulatory Speechat the 2019 Winter Academic Conference by the Korean Association of North Korean Studies



Good afternoon.


It is good to see you all. I am Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.

I would like to sincerely congratulate the Korean Association of North Korean Studies on the holding of the 2019 Winter Academic Conference.


I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those involved in arranging this conference, including Chairman Yang Moon-soo of the Korean Association of North Korean Studies, at a time when understanding North Korea correctly is more important than ever.


I am very happy to be here with you today, particularly since I had been at the Korean Association of North Korean Studies before I became the Minister of Unification.


I would like to extend my special greetings and thanks to the senior and junior researchers as well as colleagues for taking time out of their busy schedules to join the conference today.


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,


The year 2019 is coming to an end. It was never an easy year for either inter-Korean relations or North Korea-US relations.


Since the North Korea-US summit in Hanoi ended without any result earlier this year, Pyeongyang and Washington have had several opportunities for talks, only to fail to narrow the differences between their positions. There have also been no substantial dialogue and exchange between South and North Korea.


Now that we are nearing the end of the year, North Korea is calling on the US, the other party of the denuclearization talks, to change its position while emphasizing a self-imposed year-end deadline for negotiations.

North Korea, on the other hand, has conducted a series of tests of new military technologies and hints that it would explore “a new way” unless some progress is made by the deadline.


The situation in 2020 will be very fluid and uncertain. Just as today’s theme says, the Korean Peninsula is at a crossroads of crisis and opportunity.


However, the 70 years of inter-Korean relations show that they have developed gradually, continually taking two steps forward and one step back.


At a time when the situation is spiraling downward, we need keep the situation manageable and explore all opportunities to reverse it.


The situation will not reverse on its own. The parties to dialogue should continue to work hard with extraordinary determination and patienceso as to bear fruit through dialogue this time.


Although the situation is not good, believing that the future of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula will be realized, the government is determined to move forward toward that end.


Members of the Korean Association of North Korean Studies,


A group of professors selected "gongmyeongjijo" (共命之鳥) as the four-character Chinese idiom that best describes our society this year. It means two-headed bird, with each head believing it could survive without the other but the two sharing a common destiny. It has many implications for inter-Korean relations.


South and North Korea should proceed together. The two Koreas will go back to the path of cooperation. The darker the night, the closer the dawn. Once winter passes, spring will come again.


I would like to ask you to lend your assistance. I ask you to light the way forward for the government by conducting in-depth research and analysis and offering creative policy proposals.

I certainly expect that this conference will be full of in-depth and timely discussion today.


Once again, I would like to congratulate you on holding the conference, and I wish everyone the best of health and happiness.


Thank you.