- Speeches & Published Materials
[Incumbent] Remarks at Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula
H.E. Kang Kyung-wha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Korea
Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula
16 January 2018
Minister Freeland, Secretary Tillerson,
Excellencies, colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank you, our two co-hosts, for your very hard work and meticulous arrangements in bringing this group together. Thank you for your support.
With the rapid pace of recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, today’s meeting could not be more opportune. As you may already know, South and North Korea have jump started talks this year after several years of hiatus. Despite the long absence, I have to report that the dialogue has been very productive and positive.
At the high-level talks on January 9th, the two sides agreed to cooperate for the North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, work together to lower tension and create a peaceful environment on the Korean Peninsula, and resolve all issues between the two sides through dialogue.
This is, no doubt, an important development for the Pyeongchang Games, as well as a significant first step towards restoring inter-Korean relations which have been frozen for many years. We hope to build on this initial breakthrough to ease tension in the region and forge favorable conditions for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue as well as the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Colleagues and friends,
Despite these overtures to improve relations with the South, North Korea has yet to show any intention to fulfill its international obligations regarding denuclearization. To the contrary, North Korea adheres to its stated claim of having completed its state nuclear force, and now boasts that its ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads can strike anywhere in the United States. Indeed, the security threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs is no longer confined to Northeast Asia but has become truly global.
In response, the international community has been working closely together to underscore the point that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are not acceptable, and that it must return to the path of denuclearization. In the latter half of 2017 alone, three more UN Security Council Resolutions were passed unanimously with incrementally stronger sanctions, and many Member States are implementing unilateral measures to put additional pressure on North Korea.
The Republic of Korea is working closely with key partners and the international community as a whole to implement the SC sanctions so as to compel North Korea to change course and come to the table for denuclearization talks. To this end, ensuring the faithful implementation of UN Security Council sanctions by all members of United Nations and enhancing their effectiveness is crucial. My government is actively participating in these efforts, by faithfully implementing the sanctions as well as sharing information and best practices with concerned partners.
We have urged the North to stop the provocations and return to dialogue, and made it clear through action that its continued provocations will only be met with further sanctions and pressure. At the same time, President Moon Jae-in and many other leaders have repeatedly made the point, in public statements as well as in messages delivered to the North, that we stand ready to provide a brighter future for North Korea if it makes the right choice.
I believe the two tools - tough sanctions and pressure on the one hand, and the offer of a different, brighter future on the other – has worked hand in hand. Indeed, the concerted efforts of the international community has begun to bear fruit. We should take note that the North has come back to inter-Korean dialogue for its participation in the Winter Games, as evidence and observations accumulate to show that sanctions and pressure are beginning to take effect.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While we endeavor to make the most of the new opening in inter-Korean dialogue, we are well aware that sustained improvements in inter-Korean relations cannot take place without advances in efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, and vice versa. The two tracks must be pursued in complementarity. Denuclearization is a fundamental element of a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. Thus, as we endeavor to engage the North before, during and perhaps beyond Pyeongchang, we do so in clear sight of the denuclearization imperative.
The complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea remains the unwavering goal of the Korean government and the international community. As long as North Korea continues down the path of nuclear development, sanctions will remain in place, and Korea will continue to work closely with the international community to force a change of course on North Korea. The fundamental resolution of the Korean Peninsula related issues cannot be achieved without the denuclearization of North Korea, and we will continue to seek realistic and effective ways to resume denuclearization talks at the earliest possible date.
Friends and colleagues,
Almost seventy years ago, members of the international community sent troops and humanitarian aid to help defend a fledgling democracy in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. We, the Korean people, will never forget the noble sacrifices made by the men and women of the countries represented here.
And the best expression of our gratitude is being able to show the veterans, their families and countrymen the good that has resulted from their service and sacrifice. This small nation, utterly destroyed by the war, has worked very hard and become a beacon of freedom, democracy and economic vitality in Northeast Asia and beyond. But we will not rest until we achieve the ultimate prize for their sacrifice, i.e. lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Friends and esteemed colleagues,
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are now less than a month away. North Korea’s participation has created much additional work for us in the preparations, but we are working assiduously to ensure that their participation adds to the enjoyment and celebration of the Games by all - athletes, officials, spectators and cheering crowds alike. It will surely be a rare opportunity for the North Korean participants to interact with the international sport community, and we hope the momentum for engagement will continue well beyond Pyeongchang.
We ask for your support in these endeavors and hope that we can stand united in getting North Korea to change course and pursuing the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our meeting today is a timely demonstration of the solidarity of the international community on this matter. I very much look forward to our constructive discussions today.
Thank you very much.