Moon stresses inter-Korean cooperation on COVID-19, reaffirms willingness to meet with Kim Jong-un

Posted on : 2021-01-12 17:09 KST Modified on : 2021-01-12 17:09 KST
S. Korean president aims to restart dialogue in New Year’s address
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives his New Year’s address at the Blue House on Jan. 11. (Blue House photo pool)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives his New Year’s address at the Blue House on Jan. 11. (Blue House photo pool)

In his New Year’s address on Jan. 11, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced plans to “make our final effort to achieve a major breakthrough in the stalled North Korea-US talks and inter-Korean dialogue.”

Moon’s remarks signal his commitment to resuming inter-Korean dialogue ahead of US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Moon also shared his hope that “the process of dealing with COVID-19 will initiate mutual benefits and peace” with Pyongyang.

“I would like the two Koreas to participate in regional dialogues about the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health as well as the initiative for Korea-ASEAN comprehensive healthcare cooperation,” he continued.

Moon also called for increasing inter-Korean communication through a joint response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Collaboration in response to COVID-19 can expand to cooperation on issues directly connected to the safety and survival of South and North Koreans such as infectious livestock diseases and natural disasters,” he noted.

“The broader cooperation expands, the further we can move along the path toward unification,” he stressed.

With North Korea having already responded negatively to Moon’s past proposals for cooperation on disease control, it remains uncertain how effective this approach will be. At the recent 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un commented, “The south Korean authorities are now giving an impression that they are concerned about the improvement of north-south relations by raising such inessential issues as cooperation in epidemic prevention and humanitarian field and individual tourism.”

In his New Year’s address, Moon also stressed, “The key driving force of the Korean Peninsula peace process is dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation.”

“Our determination to meet at any time and any place and talk even in a contact-free manner remains unchanged,” he said, clearly showing his commitment to resuming inter-Korean dialogue.

“The two Koreas should jointly fulfill all the agreements made together to date — especially the three principles of mutual security guarantees, common prosperity and zero tolerance for war. If we can draw support from the international community in the process, the door to a community of peace, security and life will open wide, not just on the Peninsula but also in East Asia,” he continued.

He also emphasized the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of South and North Korea simultaneously joining the United Nations,” he noted.

“The two Koreas should join hands and together prove that a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula can also contribute to the international community,” he continued, stressing that “a peaceful Peninsula free of war and nuclear weapons is what we are obliged to pass down to the Korean people and posterity.”

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

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