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Speeches and Contributions

Preface

writer
장수민
created
2019-04-02
hit
191

Preface

Since its inauguration, the Moon Jae-in administration has consistently
strived to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula through improvement in inter-Korean relations. North Korea has responded to this effort, ushering in a new era of reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2018.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in his New Year’s Speech, expressed his willingness to send the North Korean athletic delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. The 500-strong delegation from the North turned Pyeongchang into a place of reconciliation and peace to such an extent that the 2018 Olympics were the most successful ever. On April 27, while the Korean people and the rest of the world watched, the leaders of South and North Korea met at Panmunjeom and agreed on comprehensive and remarkable development in inter-Korean relations, complete denuclearization, and establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Inter-Korean talks led to dialogue between North Korea and the US. We were able to resolve some difficulties arising in the process of preparing for the North Korea-US summit with wisdom through the inter-Korean summit on May 26. On June 12, the leaders of North Korea and the US met for the first time in history and put an end to 70 years of hostility, taking a big step toward peace. In September, South and North Korea opened a prelude to a “Korean Peninsula free of war” and agreed on practical measures for denuclearization at the inter-Korean summit in Pyeongyang. President Moon Jae-in asserted in front of 150,000 North Koreans that South and North Korea together should make a peaceful Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and war. The North Korean people responded to the President’s appeal with tremendous applause and cheers.


It was only just a year ago that inter-Korean relations were still completely severed. Military tension on the Korean Peninsula was higher than ever before. We were seemingly in a pitch-black tunnel with no light at the end of it. Despite the great challenges, the government steadfastly pressed on against the odds in pursuit of peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and restoration of inter-Korean relations. The Korean people gathered their hearts and determination and the international community supported the ROK’s policy toward North Korea. As a result, we were finally able to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Inter-Korean relations strained for a decade went beyond restoration and entered a new phase of development. The negotiations on denuclearization suspended for a decade began in an unprecedented way.

As the inter-Korean high-level talks began on January 9, inter-Korean dialogue resumed after a two-year hiatus and then developed into almost everyday events. The two Koreas opened the inter-Korean joint liaison office, heralding a new era of communication 24/7. They held 36 meetings and adopted 23 agreements, and they faithfully carried the agreements out.
The two Koreas conducted a joint study of railways and roads, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the connection of railways and roads, and resumed cooperation on forestry and health. They have engaged in exchange and cooperation in many different fields. Unified Korean teams made strong showings at international competitions including the 2018 Asian Games, the World Team Table Tennis Championships, and the 11th East Asian Judo Championships. The two Koreas also resumed cooperation to restore their sense of unity such as a joint excavation of Manwoldae, a Goryeo-era royal palace in Gaeseong. The substantial progress in transforming the DMZ area into a land of peace served to greatly ease military tension and build confidence. Dialogue on denuclearization is ongoing, and the government is striving to make progress in inter-Korean relations and denuclearization simultaneously while communicating closely with both Pyeongyang and
Washington.

Efforts to address humanitarian issues due to national division have continued. As inter-Korean relations were restored, reunions of separated families were held for the first time in three years. The leaders of South and North Korea agreed to open a permanent reunion center for separated families and allow video reunions of separated families and exchange of video messages at the summit in Pyeongyang in September. On the occasion of reunions of separated families, abductees’ families were also reunited. The government has continued to urge the North to address the issues of prisoners of war, abductees, and detainees. It has also continued to work hard to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. The government rendered the North Korean defectors support for employment and starting their own businesses, and offered teenage North Korean defectors greater opportunities for education. It improved services for settlement support in cooperation with the local governments and the private sector.

The government has continued to build the consensus on peace on the Korean Peninsula and development in inter-Korean relations at home and abroad. It initiated social dialogue on unification issues and cleared the way for a National Unification Contract through interactive communication with all of society. It reestablished the direction for peace and unification education, and expanded unification education at schools, in society, and the public sector. It has continued its efforts to expand international support for the ROK’s policy toward the North while communicating closely with neighboring countries, the international community, and overseas Koreans.

The year 2019 presents us a greater task along with a greater hope. We
have the task of putting inter-Korean relations into an orbit of sustainable development and making substantial progress in denuclearization. It is overwhelming. In 2018, we opened an era of peace that no one imagined possible by our desperate determination and unwavering efforts. In 2019, we will, with one mind, solidify the aborning peace and prepare for a new era in which peace brings economic development.

2019 marks the centenary of the March 1st Independence Movement and the establishment of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai. We have to make 2019 a year to carry on the spirit of our ancestors that made the Republic of Korea what it is today, go beyond the history of national division, and open a future in which South and North Korea are together as one. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Unification. The Ministry’s ultimate goal is to realize unification the people’s greatest yearning so it cannot be proud of its — — long history. However, the unification we pursue is a “process” in which South and North Korea live in peace and become one naturally, and I think that the way in which we are now headed is the way forward for unification. As always, the Ministry will do its best day by day in 2019 so that it can stand proud before history, the future, and every day today.

On February 9, the opening day of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, two athletes from South and North Korea held each other’s hands and carried the torch up the stairs together. In December, the team members for the joint study of railways precisely traced the footprints of the person ahead and walked together along the snow-covered ground. Together, we can do anything. The government will make 2019 a year of peace and prosperity along with the North, the Korean people, and the international community. I ask the readers of the 2019 White Paper on Korean Unification to join us on the path.


March, 2019

Cho Myoung-gyon

Minister of Unification