In inaugural address, new president Park discusses building trust with North Korea

Posted on : 2013-02-26 15:49 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Park Geun-hye expresses vague desire to engage the North, but puts forth no specific plans to heal relationship with Pyongyang
 Feb. 25. (by Lee Jeong-ah
Feb. 25. (by Lee Jeong-ah

By Park Byong-su, staff reporter

In her inaugural address on Feb. 25, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said that she would move forward with the trust process for the Korean peninsula on the basis of clear deterrence against North Korea.

Park called North Korea’s recent nuclear test “a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people”. At the same time, she showed her determination, by saying, “We will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the safety of the Republic of Korea.”

Park also said, “I will move forward one step at a time to build trust between the North and the South on the basis of clear deterrence.” This is being viewed as a confirmation of the “safety first” principle that Park has long espoused.

During the address, after warning that “the greatest victim [of the North’s nuclear test] will be North Korea itself,” Park urged the North to give up its nuclear program. “I hope that they will choose the path of peace and common development,” she said.

“Though the security situation that we face at present is extremely grave, we cannot stop here,” Park added as she made her pitch for the trust-building process.

“Through a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula I intend to lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true,” said Park.

“Trust can be built through dialogue and by honoring promises that have already been made,” Park said. “I hope that North Korea will become a responsible member of the international community and make the right choices so that the trust process for the Korean peninsula can move forward.”

Park did not stipulate that North Korea must abandon its nuclear program as a prerequisite for starting dialogue and the trust-building process between the North and the South. However, she also didn’t offer a message about engaging the North or reveal any plans for how the new administration would draw North Korea into the trust process. Rather, the address hinted at a passive attitude of proceeding with the trust process if North Korea voluntarily dismantles its nuclear weapons and initiates dialogue.

“To ease tensions and conflicts and further spread peace and cooperation in Asia, I will work to strengthen trust with countries in the region including the United States, China, Japan, Russia and other Asian and Oceanic countries,” Park said of Korea’s relations with neighboring countries. However, she did not place any separate emphasis on the US-Korea alliance, unlike her predecessor Lee Myung-bak five years ago.


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