Many thoughts came to my mind when I looked around Panmunjeom, from
the Freedom House, the conference room of the UNC Military Armistice
Commission, to this place, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in
and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un planted a commemorative
This time of year would be especially meaningful for us if
we could celebrate the second anniversary of the Pyeongyang Joint
Declaration. It’s a shame that we are the only ones here today amid
the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the hiatus in the ‘time of the two
Looking around here and there, however, we can see
evidence of the efforts towards peace by the leaders of the two
Koreas. Many footprints remain.
Unarmed soldiers stand guard in
the Joint Security Area, which used to be a ‘space of division’ but is
now the place where the tree planted by the leaders is taking
The South and the North ceased all hostile acts against
each other in every domain including land, sea, and air; conducted
joint searches for war remains on Arrowhead Hill in Cheorwon; and
withdrew some guard posts in the DMZ, thus opening a path to
Back in 2017, the two Koreas nearly reached a flashpoint
and some even talked aloud about war on the Korean Peninsula. Now,
military tensions have been eased and the people feel more peace than
Compared to conflicts in the Middle East, the border
dispute in Southwest Asia, and the rising military tensions in the
South China Sea, inter-Korean relations and the situation on the
Korean Peninsula remain stable.
In this regard, the historical
decision and agreement by the leaders of the two Koreas was truly
groundbreaking. The Pyeongyang Joint Declaration and the Agreement on
the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the
Military Domain (Inter-Korean Military Agreement) have done a great
deal toward preventing military conflicts.
It should also be
duly recognized that the South and the North have worked hard to
implement the agreements and realize perfect peace.
We are still
striving to carry out the agreements even now.
We are solving
the issue of anti-North Korea leaflets through the legislative process
to comply with the agreement that both sides cease all hostile acts
against each other.
In consideration of various matters, we
adjusted the schedule for the ROK-US joint military exercises.
Despite our efforts, the denuclearization negotiations have made
little progress and cooperation in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex,
tourism to Mount Geumgang, and exchange between separated families
have fallen short of our expectations.
I believe that North
Korea is willing to fulfill the agreements.
It was very
regrettable that the North blew up the inter-Korean joint liaison
Interestingly, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un then
suspended military actions against South Korea, and I believe that his
order was part of the efforts to prevent tensions from rising
North Korea also withdrew plans to reinstall
loudspeakers and prepare for anti-South Korea leaflets in response to
the scattering of anti-North Korea leaflets by a few South Korean
Despite artillery firing drills on Changrin
Island last year and multiple gunshots toward a South Korean guard
post in the DMZ in May this year, I think that the North is generally
complying with the military agreements.
It isn’t just us who
believe this. In a recent forum, Robert Abrams, the commander of the
United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea,
stated that North Korea is abiding by the military agreements.
course, the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration of September 19, 2018 is not
confined to the military domain.
At the time of the signing of
the declaration two years ago, as a lawmaker and a Korean national, I
lauded the historic milestone made by the leaders of the two Koreas
and expressed hope that the agreements would be realized.
Unfortunately, the ‘time of the two Koreas’ has made little progress
However, in a situation where conflict remains
between the two Koreas, we have eased military tensions and maintained
a state of peace in the border regions, and this is something that
should be most appreciated.
Promises must be fulfilled, and
agreements are completed through implementation.
South and North
Korea should continue their joint efforts to realize the decisions by
their leaders and resume the ‘time of the two Koreas.’
government plans to begin with ‘small approaches’ in humanitarian
matters and exchange and cooperation areas which the two Koreas can do
right now in order to implement the joint declaration.
so, we will build trust and confidence again.
Once the COVID-19
pandemic situation improves, we will quickly resume field trips to
Panmunjeom and reopen the DMZ Peace Trails, perhaps as soon as
October. I hope that we will be able to propose the holding of
reunions of separated families on a small scale in Panmunjeom.
expect the North to respond to our proposal in order to implement the
joint declaration signed by the leaders of the two Koreas.
the joint declaration of September 19, 2018, South and North Korea
agreed to work together for complete denuclearization on the Korean
North Korea and the United States should resolve
outstanding issues. Yet, I think that there are quite a lot of issues
to which South and North Korea should find solutions
Even before that, the two Koreas should continue to
pursue annual humanitarian cooperation projects to some degree in
healthcare, prevention of infectious diseases, and climate change,
based on communication between Seoul and Washington, regardless of the
situation. Only after that can South and North Korea and the US build
I hope to restore consultation channels including
the inter-Korean joint liaison office and to resume heart-to-heart
talks as soon as possible.
Facing a grim reality of double tasks
- traditional security tasks caused by competition between powerful
countries and non-traditional security tasks due to COVID-19 and
climate change - South and North Korea need to recognize that they
have an inseparable relationship by destiny as a community of life and
Lastly, it was extremely unfortunate that the North
suffered so much flood damage, just as much as the South, and I expect
that both sides can realize solidarity and cooperation on an
Just as the leaders of the two Koreas
planted the tree here with a dream of a future of peace, I hope that
the two sides will work together again to bear fruits of peace and