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
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.