Moon urges N. Korea not to backtrack on agreed-upon peace efforts

South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives his New Year’s address at the Blue House on Jan. 7. (Yonhap News). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, Jun 15, 2020, Yonhap. President Moon Jae-in called on North Korea on Monday not to stop a peace journey despite some troubles, making his first official remarks on North Korea’s renewed saber-rattling, Yonhap News reported.

“The direction the two Koreas should go together is clear,” he said during a weekly meeting with senior Cheong Wa Dae aides. “We should not stop the current inter-Korean relations again, which have overcome a longtime severance and the crisis of a war with difficulty.”

He was speaking in front of pool reporters and TV crews, as the two sides marked the 20th anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration adopted in a historic summit between the late leaders of the two Koreas — Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il.

Moon said he’s commemorating the anniversary with a “heavy heart,” apparently referring to frosty inter-Korean ties highlighted by Pyongyang’s decision to cut all communication lines with Seoul and even a threat of military action.

Moon cited his own summit deals with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018, one reached at the truce village of Panmunjom and the other in Pyongyang.

He said his government would make “incessant” efforts to implement summit agreements.

“(We) can’t let the promise of peace on the Korean Peninsula, which I and Chairman Kim Jong-un made in front of 80 million Koreans, revert,” Moon stressed.

The April 27 Panmunjom Declaration and the Sept. 19 Pyongyang Joint Declaration represent a “solemn promise” for both South and North Korea to implement faithfully, he added.

Noting that denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang are in a drawn-out stalemate, Moon proposed that the two sides make it their initiative to produce a “breakthrough” in the peace process.

“We have come to a time when we cannot wait any more for the conditions to improve,” he said, proposing that the two sides push for joint projects that they can decide themselves as the “master of the Korean Peninsula’s fate.”

He also raised the need for the South’s National Assembly to formally approve major inter-Korean deals.

If those agreements had been ratified by the National Assembly and had “continuity” despite a power shift, inter-Korean relations “would have developed much more than now,” he said.

Over the weekend, Kim Yo-jong, an influential sister of the North’s leader, issued yet another provocative statement saying that the military would be in charge of a next step to respond to the distribution of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets by some activists here across the border.

By Lee Chi-dong

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