SEOUL, Jan 7, 2020, Yonhap. President Moon Jae-in proposed Tuesday that the two Koreas make concerted efforts to create the conditions for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit South Korea as agreed, Yonhap reported.
In his New Year’s address, he also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to pushing for the resumption of two major inter-Korean projects — the Kaesong industrial complex and Mount Kumgang tours — as well as the reconnection of roads and railways.
Relevant efforts have made little headway as Seoul has abided by the U.N. Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang.
“I hope South and North (Korea) will make efforts together so that the conditions for Chairman Kim Jong-un’s reciprocal visit can be created at an early date,” Moon said in the televised speech.
Moon traveled to Pyongyang in September in 2018 and had his second summit with Kim there. Their Pyongyang Declaration read, “Chairman Kim Jong-un agreed to visit Seoul at an early date at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.”
Reminding Kim of his summit promise, Moon was apparently seeking a virtuous cycle of improved inter-Korean ties and better Pyongyang-Washington negotiations.
“It’s a time of endurance for Korean Peninsula peace and when faith in peace and the unified minds of the people are more desperately needed than at any other time,” he said. “For us, Korean Peninsula peace is not a matter of choice but a must-go way by overcoming whatever the difficulty is.”
Moon emphasized that the “traction” of North Korea-U.S. dialogue should go on.
“Showing off military power and threats are not helpful to anybody,” he said. “Our government will make every effort it can to facilitate North Korea-U.S. dialogue.”
In that sense, he said, it has become “more desperate” to explore “realistic ways” to further promote inter-Korean cooperation, citing concerns about a stalemate in Pyongyang-Washington talks and possible “regression” in relations between the two Koreas.
Moon expressed his desire for a PyeongChang-style breakthrough. The North dispatched a delegation to the Winter Olympic games held in the eastern South Korean city in early 2018. It led to a significant reduction in tensions on the peninsula, relatively brisk inter-Korean exchanges and unprecedented summit talks between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.
He held out expectations for North Korean athletes to join two sports events set to take place in the South this year. One is the 1st East Asian Weightlifting Championships in Seoul from Feb. 26-March 20, and the other is the world table tennis championships slated to open in the southern port city of Busan on March 22 for a weeklong run.
He stressed the importance of continued sports exchanges between the two Koreas, especially as they are seeking to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.
“It’s a summit deal between South and North Korea, and a promise to the international community,” as they have already conveyed an intent to jointly play host to the Olympics, Moon pointed out.
He suggested a joint pursuit of inscribing the DMZ, which bisects the peninsula, on UNESCO’s World Heritage List like “ssireum,” or traditional Korean wrestling, which was listed in 2018 by both Koreas as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Moon took note of the DMZ’s ecological and historic value, as well as its significance in peace and reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas.
The UNESCO project is a “thing that we can begin immediately,” he said. “I would like North Korea to respond positively.”
The president earlier offered to transform the no-man’s land of the DMZ into a U.N.-led international peace zone.
He also proposed the start of “border region cooperation” for the safety of all Koreans — 80 million people.
Sharing the border, the two sides are a “life community,” he said.
“I believe Chairman Kim Jong-un has the same will,” he added.
Last week, North Korea detailed the results of a meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee.
During the meeting, Kim called for “protecting ecological environment and taking thorough-going measures for preventing natural disasters,” according to Pyongyang’s state media.
Moon outlined his 2020 plans for diplomacy with the so-called four major regional powers.
He said his government will further solidify the alliance with Washington while endeavoring constantly to diversify key diplomatic partners through the New Southern Policy and the New Northern Policy.
“With the United States, (we) will develop the traditional alliance to a higher level and try together to complete the Korea Peace Process,” he said.
He struck an upbeat note on Seoul’s relationship with Beijing as well, saying President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang are scheduled to visit South Korea this year.
The government will make efforts so that South Korea-China relations can “make a leap” forward, Moon said.
Regarding Japan, which he called the country’s “closest neighbor,” the president presented a vision for evolving bilateral ties “in a future-oriented” manner.
The prerequisite for this is Japan’s retraction of its export restrictions against South Korea, Moon said.
“Russia is a core partner of (our government’s) New Northern Policy,” he said. “This year, the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, I hope that a new turning point will be made in the New Northern diplomacy.”
On domestic issues, Moon again placed a focus on enhancing fairness.
He unveiled a plan to push for the revision of laws to foster a “fair economy” and the encouragement of “sound management” by local conglomerates.
He made clear his resolve not to give up key measures to reform the prosecution and other “power institutions.”
The National Assembly has passed a bill on setting up a non-prosecution agency to investigate corruption among high-ranking civil servants, including prosecutors, judges and senior police officers.
A set of bills aimed at giving police more investigative power and authority remain pending at the parliament.
“If the bills are handled and the legal and systemic foundation is completed for the reform of power institutions, it would lead to a fairer society and the formation of stronger social trust,” he said.
Moon also reaffirmed the government’s “firm determination” to stabilize the housing market.
“(We) will never be defeated in the war against real estate speculation,” he said.
By Lee Chi-dong