Moon outlines vision of new Korean Peninsula system

Posted on : 2019-03-02 13:57 KST Modified on : 2019-03-02 13:57 KST
S. Korean president gives commemorative address at centennial of Mar. 1 Movement  
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook at a celebration of the centennial of the Mar. 1 Independence Movement in Gwanghwamun Square on Mar. 1. (provided by the Blue House)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook at a celebration of the centennial of the Mar. 1 Independence Movement in Gwanghwamun Square on Mar. 1. (provided by the Blue House)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shared an outline of his vision for a proposed “new Korean Peninsula system” as a “South Korean-led new 100-year order” for the centennial anniversary of the Mar. 1 Independence Movement. The “big picture” suggested by Moon was one in which South and North Korea create a “community of peace and cooperation” as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula progresses, with the resulting era of a “peaceful economy” serving to support economic growth across Northeast Asia, the ASEAN countries and Eurasia.

Speaking in a commemorative address for the Mar. 1 Movement’s centennial at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza that day, Moon described this as a new order to bring an end to the Cold War system and the “era of antagonism and conflict, ideologies and camps.” The aim of the system was to create a new order in which South and North Korea exercise leadership, leaving behind the past century that saw Korea’s fate determined by the interests of major powers amid the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, national division and the Cold War.

As keys to achieve the “new Korean Peninsula system,” Moon pointed to peace and the economy. To begin with, he stressed that a community of peace and cooperation between South and North was the most crucial underpinning for proceeding toward the new system.

“We will build a permanent peace system based on our shared commitment [to achieving peace], close cooperation between South Korea and the US, the conclusion of North Korea-US dialogue, and the support of the international community,” he said.

He also indicated plans to begin work immediately on building an inter-Korean economic cooperation community as swifter progress is made in achieving stable peace on the peninsula.

“We will open up an era of peaceful economy on the Korean Peninsula,” he declared, announcing plans to hold discussions with the US toward resuming tourism at Mt. Kumgang and operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to achieve this. He also stated plans to establish an inter-Korean joint economic committee as progress is made in denuclearizing the peninsula – similar to the “Joint Military Committee” the two sides agreed to operate in their military agreement on Sept. 19 of last year to discuss military exercises and armament as a means of ceasing hostile military activities.

“A joint economic committee would be capable of producing economic results that benefit both South and North,” he explained.

Inter-Korean peace and cooperation in connection to prosperity of greater Asia

Moon also predicted the peace and economic community between South and North would contribute ultimately to prosperity for Asia in general and world peace.

“Peace on the Korean Peninsula will be a new driving force for economic growth spanning Northeast Asia, ASEAN and Eurasia,” he said.

“Once the trans-Korean railroad is completed, that will hasten the achievement of the East Asia rail community I proposed on National Liberation Day last year, which in turn will lead to development into an energy community and economic community that will reinforce the multilateral peace and security system, which includes the US,” he explained.

He also confidently predicted that developments in inter-Korean relations would “lead to the normalization of North Korea’s relations with the US and Japan and expand into a new peace and security order for the Northeast Asian region.”

As if to underscore the potential for this “future century” to become a reality, Moon mentioned the dramatic chances that have unfolded on the peninsula in the three years since his inauguration.

“When I announced my vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula in Berlin in July 2017, peace seemed a long way off and out of reach, but when the opportunity arrived, we jumped for it and seized peace,” he said, citing examples including the inter-Korean interactions at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, the inter-Korean summits at Panmunjom and Pyongyang last year, the pursuit of inter-Korean rail and road linkages and efforts toward establishing a peace and cooperation zone in the West (Yellow) Sea.

“Visions that we saw as being like rainbows in the past are now coming true before our eyes,” he stressed.

Suggestions for peaceful use of and free access to DMZ

Moon also made references to the peaceful use of and free access to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

“The Demilitarized Zone is now set to become something that belongs to the people,” he said.

“Whether it’s building a peace park, bringing in international peace organizations, engaging in ecological and peace tourism, or walking pilgrimage paths, we could jointly use it in a way that preserves nature while bringing happiness to the South and North Korean people,” he said.

“That will lead in turn to free and safe travel to North Korea by South Koreans,” he predicted.

He also announced plans to “push for divided family members and displaced persons to visit their hometowns and see their family members and relatives.”

Moon also stressed the importance of the “new Korean Peninsula” as a way of hastening reunification.

“When you acknowledge differences, united hearts and minds, and create reciprocal relationships, that’s unification,” he said.

“Unification is not someplace distant,” he added.

By Kim Bo-hyeop, staff reporter

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