Moon urges dialogue after N. Korea launches presumed ballistic missile

Posted on : 2022-01-06 17:37 KST Modified on : 2022-01-06 17:37 KST
The comment came at a groundbreaking ceremony for a section of railway that could be linked to N. Korea in the future
President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Donghae railway line, running between Gangneung and Jejin, at the Jejin station in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Donghae railway line, running between Gangneung and Jejin, at the Jejin station in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

North Korea launched a projectile believed to be a ballistic missile toward the East from its Chagang Province region at around 8:10 am Wednesday, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was scheduled to pay a visit the same morning to Jejin Station in Gangwon Province to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the Donghae railway line as agreed upon in the inter-Korean Panmunjom Declaration of 2018. Regardless of whether it was meant as an intentional provocation, the show of force puts a damper on Seoul’s efforts to foster a climate for peace.

In its announcement on the North Korean projectile launch Wednesday, the JCS said that South Korean and US intelligence authorities were still conducting a close analysis on additional details such as the range and altitude.

As North Korea’s first show of force in the new year, the launch came 78 days after its test launch of a new model of submarine-launched ballistic missile on Oct. 19.

The Blue House National Security Council held an emergency standing committee meeting Wednesday to voice concerns over the launch, which came at a very tense time for political stability in South Korea and internationally.

The committee “stressed the importance of resuming dialogue with North Korea in order to resolve the current tension and strain in inter-Korean relations,” the Blue House said.

Moon was present as scheduled at the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place at around 11 am at Jejin Station, the northernmost station in South Korea.

During the ceremony, he announced that North Korea “test-launched an unidentified short-range projectile” that morning.

“If we are to fundamentally overcome this kind of situation, we cannot afford to let go of the thread of dialogue,” he stressed, adding that North Korea “also needs to work more seriously toward dialogue.”

The ceremony Moon attended was for construction on a railway section between Gangneung and Jejin — part of a project to build a single-track line on the only disconnected stretch of the eastern coast railway on the Korean Peninsula.

Inter-Korean railway cooperation has been at a standstill since the breakdown of a North Korea-US summit in Hanoi in February 2019. But South Korea decided to forgo a pre-feasibility study and begin work on the Donghae Line project in anticipation of a future inter-Korean railway linkage.

Commenting on the construction, the Blue House explained that it “could offer a symbolic illustration of our trust and commitment to linkages of the Donghae and Gyeongui [Seoul-Sinuiju] lines, which South and North agreed to pursue as a priority project in our Panmunjom Declaration.”

In his celebratory address, Moon said, “We conducted a joint survey of the North Korean railway section and held groundbreaking ceremonies for inter-Korean railway and road service on the Donghae and Seohae lines at Panmun Station in Kaesong that year [2018], but we have unfortunately been unable to make substantive progress with the project since then.”

“But our commitment remains unchanged,” he continued.

Moon also said, “Once railway service is in place between Gangneung and Jejin, this will allow us not only to connect South and North Korean railway lines, but also to further flesh out our dreams of extending toward the [Asian] continent.”

“This would also clear the way for a train that can travel from Busan through Gangwon Province and Rason in North Korea before reaching Eurasia and the European continent,” he predicted.

“Once it is connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Trans-Manchurian Railway, and the Trans-Mongolian Railway, this will allow for much faster service and much lower distribution costs than by sea,” he added.

By Lee Wan and Kwon Hyuk-chul, staff reporters

Please direct questions or comments to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles