Happy New Year!
I am Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.
I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the 10thanniversary of
the establishment of Railhope.
Since its founding in 2010, Railhope has continued to strive to
realize the dream of the Trans-Korea Railway (TKR) on the Korean Peninsula.
Through a variety of programs including a campaign to donate
railroad ties, humanities travel to Siberia, and Continent School (a
lecture on the dream of embracing the continent), Railhope has helped
people who have never experienced connection to the continent since
national division to have a grand vision that the Korean Peninsula
will one day soon become a bridge between the continent and the ocean.
I would like to extend my deep gratitude to all the members of
Railhope for working so hard over the past 10 years in the face of
Distinguished guests from home and abroad,
Today, the seminar marking the 10thanniversary of the establishment
of Railhope will discuss the connection of the Donghae Bukbu (northern
East Sea) Line as part of specific ways to usher in the era of the
peace-driven economy on the Korean Peninsula.
As you are all aware, South and North Korea already completed the
connection of the Gyeongui Line and the Donghae Line in 2006 and
successfully conducted the trial run of trains on these railways.
In 2018, South Korean technicians conducted a field study along the
777-km northern section of the Donghae Line. However, we have not yet
completed linking the Donghae Line. Although we linked the railways
between Gamho Station in the North and Jejin Station in the South (the
Northern section of the Donghae Bukbu Line), the section between Jejin
and Gangneung (the Southern section of the Donghae Bukbu Line) remains
unfinished. The Northern section needs to be modernized.
The connection of the 105-km Southern section of the Donghae Bukbu
Line and a trial of the Northern section are the last tasks to
completing the TKR on the Korean Peninsula.
This year also marks the 20thanniversary of the signing of the
agreement to connect severed railways and roads between South and
North Korea. Now is the time for it to bear fruit.
Once this section is linked, a train departing from Busan will be
able to pass through North Korea, cross Siberia, and run all the way
The Donghae Bukbu Line will drive the development of Gangwon
Province and will be reborn as a new Silk Road that links the Eurasian
continent and the Pacific.
The connected railways will bring people together like never before
and will greatly improve logistics.
The connection of the Donghae Bukbu Line will do much for all
neighboring countries including Russia as well as South and North
Korea, and it will bring us closer to realizing the East Asia Railway Community.
We have a number of leading experts with us today, so I expect to
see constructive discussion for the connection of the Donghae Bukbu
Line and inter-Korean railway cooperation.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula today is challenging,
to say the least. However, even in the depths of the coldest winter,
spring is on its way. At a time like this, we should steadily prepare
for change so that we can sow seeds well when spring comes around.
The government is considering the possibility of inter-Korean
tourism cooperation, among other things.
Railhope has accepted applications for individual tours to Mount
Geumgang as part of its efforts to resume tourism to Mount Geumgang as
agreed in the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration in September 2018.
The Donghae Bukbu Line, which we will discuss today, will not only
give a boost to the stagnant economy in the border regions but promote
and accelerate the resumption of inter-Korean tourism in synergy with
the abundant tourism resources on the east coast including Mount
Seorak and Mount Geumgang.
The government will do its best to accelerate the connection of the
Donghae Bukbu Line by even just a day while remaining in close
communication with appropriate agencies and local governments.
It will also explore ways to achieve forward-looking development of
tourism to Mount Geumgang and realize an inter-Korean joint tourism
zone along the east coast while continuing to discuss matters with the North.
I would like to ask Railhope and the members of the Committee for
the Connection of the Donghae Bukbu Line to have firm determination
and hope and to join the government’s efforts.
I expect that the seminar will be a great success, and I wish
everyone the best of health.