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Speeches and Contributions

Words of Encouragementat the 36th Gyeongmo ceremony


Senior members of separated families,

I am Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.

Happy New Year!

I would like to extend my appreciation to Chairman Kim Yong-ha of the Unification Gyeongmo Association and those involved in organizing the event. I am also grateful to Chairman Lee Myeong-woo of the Committee for the Five Northern Korean Provinces, Chairman Yeom Seung-hwa of the Central Federation of Natives of North Korean Provinces, Bareunmirae Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu, and all the rest of you for participating today.

On the occasion of Lunar New Year’s Day, many members of separated families came here with longing for their hometowns and relatives. I would like to extend words of encouragement to all of you here at Imjingak today.

Resolution of the issues of separated families in inter-Korean relations is a top priority for the government.

Last year, the government prepared for resumption of video reunions and exchange of video messages, which had been suspended for over a decade, and it conducted genetic tests for over 17,000 individuals.

I am well aware that despite such efforts, the government failed to meet the desperate wishes of the most senior members of separated families. This weighs heavily on my mind.

It has been 75 years since South and North Korea were divided right after national liberation. Now is the time to heal the pain of national division. We must do all we can, particularly as there isn’t much time left.

As the year 2020 begins, the government, with renewed resolve, will do its best to ensure that the separated families can realize their long-cherished desire as soon as possible.

It will make tangible progress by adopting a “new way of thinking” instead of a “cliched view”; the “power of optimism” instead of a “pessimistic perception”; and a “comprehensive approach” instead of a “piecemeal measures.”

It will try all possible ways to confirm whether relatives are still alive and to bring about reunions, including face-to-face reunions, video reunions, exchange of video messages, and reunions on demand by the members of separated families through the restoration and opening of a permanent reunion center.

Over 75 percent of senior members of separated families have hopes of one day soon visiting their hometowns.

The government is considering a way to defray the expenses so that they can visit places in North Korea near their hometowns.

It is only natural that people should yearn to meet their long-lost relatives and visit their hometowns. No one can stop anyone from doing so on any account, and the government will never give up until the end to make this reality.

I ask you to not give up hope and instead to fully support the government’s efforts. I wish all of you the best of health and that you will indeed soon meet your relatives in your hometowns.

Thank you.

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