- Speeches & Published Materials
[Incumbent] Foreign Minister’s Remarks at the Peace and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula Reception at the Davos Forum (WEF Annual Meeting 2019) (1.23)
Thank you, most sincerely, for being here with us today to relax a bit and to share with us in the thought and hopes about peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. Thank you, business leaders from Korea, thank you, leaders of international organizations based here in Geneva, mostly, I think.
But, I think around this time of the year just last year in Davos, I shared my country’s aspiration to successfully host the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics. And a year has passed, and I think I can safely say that this Winter Games was indeed an unprecedented success in many ways, not least of which because it started what has turned out to be an extraordinary year that has replaced rising tension and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, with dialogue towards a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and the building of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The march of the two Koreas together did not end at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games, but continued further down a path that led to a series of historic summit meetings between the South and North Korea, as well as the first-ever summit meeting between the United States and North Korea.
And now, with the resumption of talks between the United States and North Korea, with a visit to Washington by North Korea’s top envoy last week, and his meetings with President Trump and Secretary Pompeo, we are very much expecting the second US-North Korea summit to be taking place very soon. The North Korean leader also has committed to coming to the South for his fourth meeting with President Moon Jae-in and if that happens, that will surely be another historic milestone for developments on the Korean Peninsula.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The peace momentum on the Korean Peninsula is already having very positive ramifications beyond the political dialogue. Financial institutions recently assessed that the geopolitical risk on the Korean Peninsula really mitigated in 2018.
And in the longer term, my government envisions a future when the full potential of the Korean Peninsula, as the natural bridge between the Eurasian continent and the Pacific Ocean will be realized. We seek lasting peace and co-prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea not only denuclearized, but also drawn out of its isolation and incorporated into the regional growth momentum.
And this is what we mean when we say our “New Korean Peninsula Economic Initiative”, which would join up South and North Korea, along three corridors of economic cooperation which would extend further north and further south.
The first of the three axes would be along the western coast, the second along the eastern coast, and the third across the DMZ. Building upon the existing strengths of economic sectors already, the focus of the western corridor would be in industrial production, transportation and logistics, while the second would concentrate on the energy and resources sectors. And the third, the DMZ belt would join up the ecosystems and tourism industries of the two sides.
And with the South and North thus linked up, the Korean Peninsula would indeed become the link, as geography meant it to be, between the Pacific Ocean and the Eurasian continent, opening up new growth opportunities not just for the two Koreas and the immediate neighbors but also for the wider region and the world.
This is of course all conditioned on getting North Korea to completely denuclearize and open up, and institutionalizing peaceful coexistence between South and North Korea. There is much work to be done. Getting North Korea to denuclearize will take time and patience. And when it does, the global community can ease the economic sanctions placed on the North. But the lifting of the sanctions will not be enough to get North Korea on the road to economic development. It will also have to open up and adapt to the ways of doing business with the outside world.
And the pace of that change will inevitably depend on its own readiness to change, but also on the steadfast engagement of the North by South Korea, the United States and all others, including international organizations, many of whose leaders are here with us this evening, and who see all the good that a nuclear-free, peaceful Korean Peninsula will mean for the region and the world.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea is also deepening ties with ASEAN and other key partners in the south with our New Southern Policy, as well as towards Eurasia with our New Northern Policy, advancing connectivity in transport, energy and infrastructure.
And a landmark event will be a special ROK-ASEAN summit later in the year to mark the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership. And our guiding philosophy is people-centered inclusive growth, in our domestic endeavors as well as in collaborating for co-prosperity with others.
Let me also say that the Republic of Korea has been an ardent supporter of the multilateral trading system for global co-prosperity, and has been at the forefront of innovation spearheading the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And I have high expectations for the ministerial meeting to be held on WTO reform and e-commerce on the occasion of Davos, and I am sure that our delegation will actively participate in the discussions.
I am also pleased to note the accomplishments of Korean businesses who are at the leading edge of many of these technological innovations. The ways in which the private sector has capitalized on the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is truly remarkable. According to the Global Innovation Index, Korean companies’ ranked first in R&D and second in ICT infrastructure. And when it comes to policy and regulations, meanwhile, there is still open room for improvement, and my government is continuing in our endeavors to create an enabling environment for the private sector.
In concluding, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me just say that the Republic of Korea today is a vibrant democracy and the 12th largest economy in the world, thanks to the hard work of our people, our government, past and present, our businesses, and the steadfast support of international organizations that have set the global norms that we have worked hard to achieve, and we continue to work at it.
As we aspire to a future of peaceful co-existence and co-prosperity on the whole of the Korean Peninsula, we do so by counting on the continued endeavors of all the private and public sector leaders, represented here.
And I do hope that the evening will provide an opportunity for all of you to discuss that future with friends and colleagues, old and new.
Thank you very much. /End/