- Ministry News
FOREIGN MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH abcNEWS(6. 14.)
Click the photo to see the interview
FOREIGN MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH ABC NEWS (June 14th)
[James Longman] You've come out of a meeting with Secretary Pompeo. How would you find the agreement? What is your...South Korea's take on the Trump-Kim summit?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think the encounter itself is historic for the President of the United States and the top leader of North Korea to meet face-to-face and have that... pivotal moment of changing dynamics around the Korean Peninsula, which has been defined by decade-old hostility. For the two leaders to declare that that is now ended and we are turning into a new phase of US-North Korea relationship is quite historic.
[James Longman] There has been some criticism that the agreement has not gone far enough. Donald Trump maybe gave away a lot. And for South Korea to watch is that the U.S. President says that they would put in the end the military exercises. Were you surprised when he said that?
[Foreign Minister Kang] He said it, just coming out of intense engagement with the Chairman. It's clearly his desire to reinforce the momentum for dialogue that he has now created with the Chairman. I think the issue of the exercises is a key issue for our alliance. And whatever we do about that, we will ensure that the very strong combined defense posture of the alliance is maintained.
[James Longman] It's surely can’t be something that you would allow, had you been at the summit.
[Foreign Minister Kang] But I think, you know, you can’t script these things. The President said it, judging by the understanding that he had and his judgement of his counterpart across table at the historic summit, and we will see what has gone into this statement and that, in fact, is being discussed with my counterparts in our military with yours. I... that would hardly be the case. I think the level of trust that has been created between my President and President Trump is quite extraordinary.
[James Longman] But does he(President Moon) wish he were there in the room?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think we would all wish we were in the room. But there are things that happened the way they have to happen. I think it is absolutely historical that the bilateral summit between the U.S. and North Korea did happen. We will build on it. As we have said, we very much hope that the process will now lead to action on denuclearization. We also want to move towards a declaration of end to the war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula and ultimately work toward the establishment of peace regime that will replace the armistice regime.
[James Longman] Do you want military exercises to continue?
[Foreign Minister Kang] The military exercises are defensive in nature. These exercises are not frozen in time. They are constantly updated, modified -- a different goal set for different aspects of our military capability. This is an on-going consultation.
[James Longman] Were you surprised that Donald Trump call them provocative, because that's exactly what Kim Jong-un has called them before?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I am not surprised, I think, given where he has just been in consultation with the Chairman. It's defensive in nature and it's to make sure that our defense posture is water-tight.
[James Longman] We have been here before with the agreements with Kim Jung-un and his regime. What is different about this agreement?
[Foreign Minister Kang] We haven’t been to this agreement with Kim Jung-un. We know the history. We know the discussions and the agreements... how they went not. This is different in the sense that the top leader himself have committed to this, to my President, to President Xi and now very publically and visibly to the President of the United States.
[James Longman] And the action is presumably meaning verifying whatever North Korea does. How can that be done?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think verification is a term, but how we do the verification... I think it can be thought in different ways. At the end of this process, we have complete denuclearization, and that means all of it -- the weapons, the nuclear weapons, the materials, the facilities and the plans and all of that.
[James Longman] Donald Trump on his return back to the United States tweeted that the world is a lot safer now and that the nuclear threat is no more. Do you agree with it?
[Foreign Minister Kang] It's on its way. We are certainly, decisively on our way.
[James Longman] We are not there yet.
[Foreign Minister Kang] The fact that the leaders now have this level of communication that is very easily mobilized is really reassuring. Good, clear commitment to implementing the diverse commitments made in Panmunjeom in this declaration is the work ahead. There are... generals are now meeting, as we speak, to discuss how to ease military tensions. For example, by making the De-militarized Zone truly de-militarized, because, currently, it’s probably the most militarized zone. With the every step, of course, our confidence grows about being able to bring lasting peace.
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well.. this is a challenge going forward, because they do, at this point, have the capability.
[James Longman] Does South Korea... Do you think South Korea feels like a safer place now as the result of this meeting?
[James Longman] The agreement obviously spoke about denuclearization of the peninsula. Do you worry about what that means for the region’s security, if Americans withdraw?
[Foreign Minister Kang] American troop presence is not on the table. It's... the troop presence is critical to the alliance, and any issue having to do with the alliance is the matter for the alliance. This is not being discussed. It was not raised by the Chairman.
[James Longman] So, American troops will stay no matter what...
[Foreign Minister Kang] Absolutely. As the President himself says, for now, this is not something that is being discussed.
[James Longman] Because the Chinese have suggested that if North Korea does denuclearize, there isn’t any need for troops in South Korea. Do you see how this whole agreement is being read as a win for China?
[Foreign Minister Kang] The denuclearization of North Korea and the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula is denuclearizing North Korea. We’ve lived fully up to our part of the declaration of 1992... To that extent, I think our goals are one and the same. China may have different strategic calculations beyond that, but we are absolutely sure that (the U.S. military alliance is critical part) of the security safety on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
[James Longman] Can you see why other allies -- US allies in the region -- might be worried about greater Chinese power in the Asia Pacific? And this agreement strengthens them and weakens the US and its allies?
[Foreign Minister Kang] I think the Chinese growing strength has to be recognized, has to be dealt with and has to be engaged in a way that reinforces the peaceful dynamics. Yes, there are trade issues, but overall I think the strategic communication is a strong one that will be able to work through the issues that we disagree on.
[James Longman] What fears do you think that Japan has about this agreement? And how have they been allayed?
[Foreign Minister Kang] I don’t think it is so much a fear as wanting ... having wanted more in this agreement. I think the agreement is an outcome of one encounter, and I don’t think you can expect to include everything. The agreement also has to be followed up by concrete action. And so, having wanted to see more in it and not as much... That could be disappointing. But I think therefore all the more we need to is closely consult and pace ourselves so that our expectations can be closely joined up.
[James Longman] Just on a personal level, when you were watching this summit, how were you reading Kim Jong-un? What is your sense of him?
[Foreign Minister Kang] My President has engaged him extensively twice, Mr. Pompeo has engaged him several times and now President Trump. And I think we have to go by their judgement in the first instance, because they are the ones who have engaged with this young leader. And, by all accounts, he's very knowledgable, very astute, very articulate. But one thing clear is that he wants a different direction for his country.
[Foreign Minister Kang] Trust is a tricky word. I think... but I think my President has confidence that he has decided and he is determined to deliver on the new course that he has set for his country.
[James Longman] People in this region has suffered on a very personal level from what has been going in North Korea. Were you disappointed to hear that human rights hasn't really been touched upon that much in the discussions?
[James Longman] And you trust him?
[Foreign Minister Kang] I think we all agree that the human rights situation in North Korea is appalling, and that it has to be on the international agenda. We are part of that discussion, and we very much hope that we can find ways to improve the situation. Because the goal is to get to, yes, the goal is to find an agreement that moves us forward on these various issues. But to get some agreement out of North Korea, at this point, on human rights was probably not realistic or practical.
[James Longman] I think we've covered probably just about everything, I don't know how you feel, I'm just interested in your point of view on just what's going to happen on a concrete level just in terms of actual steps, because even a time-frame in this agreement wasn't there. What do you... can you give some kind of time-frame that you might expect. We're talking weeks, months, before another meeting or...?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, we certainly hope the follow-up discussions to take place very soon, if not on next week, perhaps the following week or the week thereafter. For this discussions to continue through the summer months and in something very concrete, the Chairman promised President Trump that he will be dismantling a missile engine site.
[James Longman] In the agreement in the meeting itself, he....
[Foreign Minister Kang] Not in their written agreement and the signed agreement, but President Trump during the press conference indicated that the Chairman had indicated to him that he would be dismantling this nuclear, no, the missile engine test site, which is a very important part of their missiles program. So, we will see. I think the expectation is that this will take place.
[James Longman] And I'm just looking ahead to this summer when there is another military exercise scheduled. Is it your understanding that is going ahead?
[Foreign Minister Kang] I would leave that for my colleagues in the military to work out, but there are weeks and months before that, and we will try to maintain the integrity, the fundamental defensive nature of this exercises, but ensure also that the dialogue momentum continues.
[James Longman] Foreign Minister Kang, thank you very much for speaking with us.
[Foreign Minister Kang] Thank you.