Moon urges Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul before end of year

Posted on : 2018-12-03 17:25 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Message relayed to reporters after G20 Summit in Argentina aboard presidential aircraft
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a message on Dec. 1 strongly urging North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to pay a reciprocal visit to Seoul within the year.

“I am certain that if denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean peace are achieved through a reciprocal visit by Chairman Kim Jong-un, all South Koreans will truly welcome that with open arms,” he said.

Speaking with Blue House beat reporters on his presidential aircraft en route to his next stop in New Zealand after the G20 Summit concluded in Argentina earlier that day, Moon explained, “In itself, a reciprocal visit by Chairman Kim would express a message to the world about peace and a commitment to denuclearization and the advancement of inter-Korean relations.”

The meeting was Moon’s third with reporters on the presidential aircraft, following others after a visit to Washington, DC, in June 2017 and a UN General Assembly in New York in September of this year.

“Just as the North Korea-US summit [in Singapore] was a tremendous historical event 70 years in the making, so I believe a reciprocal visit would be very significant in itself, as a North Korean leader has never once visited Seoul,” Moon said.

“I’d prefer it if more substantive things can be addressed [during the visit], but the important thing for now is that the visit itself happens,” he added.

Moon also shared a message that US President Donald Trump asked to be shared with Kim during a South Korea-US summit the day before.

“President Trump said that if Chairman Kim visits Seoul within the year, he wants me to convey the message that he ‘holds a very positive view’ of Chairman Kim, that he ‘likes Chairman Kim’ and hopes he will follow through on their remaining agreements,” he explained. “He also promised to ‘achieve what Chairman Kim wishes.’”

“President Trump indicated that [the US] can provide various forms of assistance for the regime security and economic development North Korea desires if they properly implement denuclearization,” he added.

Moon’s remarks could be read as pressing Kim to make a swift decision on the visit within year now that the stage has been set with the South Korea-US summit. The day before, South Korean and US leaders agreed that a return visit by Kim would have a positive effect on joint efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Moon also sent a message intended to allay Pyongyang’s fears about Kim’s security during a visit and objections from ultra-conservative groups.

“I’m sure the things North Korea is most concerned about are security and safety, which are things that we must thoroughly guarantee,” he said.

“In that sense, I think that the public will need to be a bit understanding about aspects that may result in inconveniences to them in terms of transportation and other areas,” he continued.

Moon went on to say, “I don’t think it’s possible for there to be divisions of opinion on Chairman Kim’s visit. How can we have divisions of progressive and conservative or ruling and opposition parties?”

On the question of whether the visit would actually materialize within the year, he said, “That all depends on Chairman Kim’s decision.”

“We have no way of knowing yet. We’re going to have to wait a bit longer and see,” he said.

By Seong Yeon-cheol, staff reporter

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