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[Former] Dinner Speech at the 17th Jeju Forum


Dinner Speech at the 17th Jeju Forum

Dinner Speech at the 17th Jeju Forum

(September 15, 2022)

The Honorable 정진석,

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Korea,

The Honorable Takeda Ryota,

Secretary-General of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union,

The Honorable Marc Garneau,

Member of the House of Commons of Canada,

The Honorable Yuen Pau Woo, Senator of Canada,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this beautiful Jeju


I am pleased to host the Gala Dinner of the 17th Jeju Forum as

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.

I would like to thank former Foreign Minister 김성환, Acting 

Chairman of the International Peace Foundation, and President 

한인택 of the Jeju Peace Institute.

I would also like to thank everyone whose tremendous work made 

today’s event possible.

The theme of this year’s Jeju Forum is “Beyond Conflict, Towards Peace: Coexistence and Cooperation.”

I believe the four keywords here – “Conflict,” “Peace,” 

“Coexistence,” and “Cooperation” – well encapsulate the realities 

of our international community and provide direction to confront 

the challenges of our time.

Richard Haas, President of the Council of Foreign Relations, 

argued in his book “A World in Disarray” that the global trend is 

“one of declining order” and that “the 21st century will prove 

extremely difficult to manage.”

Indeed, the world is in disarray.

We are witnessing the revival of traditional geopolitics: U.S.-China 

great power competition and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

And heightened geopolitical competition makes it even more difficult to produce cooperation demanded by the new challenges central to the contemporary era.

These new challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and supply chain disruptions, are profoundly impacting our everyday lives in an unprecedented manner.

And, of course, North Korea’s nuclear and missile proliferations

remain a direct threat to the region and beyond.

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration is acutely aware of the complex security environment surrounding us.

Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

In order to turn this difficulty into an opportunity, the Republic of Korea is seeking to realize the vision of becoming a “global pivotal state,” or GPS in short.

Korea is now taking a leap forward to join the ranks of G7.

The GPS vision we embrace will expand and advance our diplomacy in accordance with the stature of the Republic of Korea today, contributing to the freedom, peace, and prosperity of the international community.

Korea has a compelling success story to tell the world.

We recovered from the ashes of the Korean War nearly seven decades ago to become one of the world’s top economic powerhouses in just over half a century.

Korea is now the world’s tenth largest economy and ranks seventh in global trade volume.

Other data on military strength, nuclear power, information technology, and space exploration indicate that we have come close to the G7.

Our internet penetration rate is ranked fourth globally, and we rank first in the Bloomberg Innovation Index.

Do you know what else Korea has number 1 title at?

Consumption of seafood.  And vegetables.

Koreans are the world’s greatest healthy food lovers.

And this is the secret behind delicious Korean dishes.

Korea emerged from once being an authoritarian country to a leading democracy in Asia.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 report listed Korea as one of five full democracies in the Asian region.

Combining economic success with democratic culture is an essential driving force behind Korean soft power.

Moreover, from K-Pop group BTS to K-Drama Squid Game, Korea is becoming the world’s newest cultural epicenter.

Two days ago, “Squid Game” made history by becoming the first Korean and non-English-language TV series to win a major Emmy Award.

Actor 이정재, the star of “Squid Game,” who is loved by many Koreans, finally made it.

This game was quite popular when I was in my 20s.

I never thought it would become such a worldwide phenomenon.

Distinguished Guests,

Cooperation with the international community is essential for realizing our GPS vision.

We are endeavoring to upgrade our ties of cooperation with countries worldwide.

Forged in blood from the Korean War, the ROK-U.S. alliance

has served as the linchpin for peace and prosperity in the region.

Now, we seek to develop the ROK-U.S. partnership into a “global comprehensive strategic alliance,” as agreed upon between our two leaders at their summit in May this year.

Our two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and the combined defense posture under our Mutual Defense Treaty.

Building upon our historic KORUS FTA, we are committed to  enhancing policy coordination on economic security issues, including securing resilient supply chains and setting the norms and rules of the new international economic order.

As we continue to strengthen ROK-US cooperation on economic security, Korean companies should receive equal treatment as U.S. companies without discrimination.

The two leaders also pledged to deepen and broaden cooperation on critical and emerging technologies and cyber, economic, and energy security.

President Biden started his trip to Korea with a visit to the Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus near the U.S. military base Camp Humphreys.

The Samsung Pyeongtaek Campus is the single largest semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world.

And during the tour of the facility, President Biden mentioned

 “incredible,” “fabulous,” and “amazing” several times.

We expect U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Korea later this month will further contribute to developing the ROK-U.S.

global comprehensive strategic alliance.

President Yoon said in his National Liberation Day speech that today Japan is our partner as we face common threats that challenge the freedom of global citizens.

Regarding Korea-Japan relations, the two countries must squarely face the past and move toward a future-oriented partnership, by upholding the spirit of the “김대중-Obuchi Joint Declaration.”

We will work toward the resumption of shuttle diplomacy between the leaders of our two countries.

Prime Minister 한덕수 will attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, which is scheduled on September 27 in Tokyo, on behalf of the Korean government.

The Yoon administration is also committed to strengthening ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral cooperation in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and evolving regional and global challenges.

In June, the leaders held the first Trilateral Summit in almost five years on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain.

They committed to strengthening trilateral cooperation across the range of shared agendas. 

The three foreign ministers from Korea, the U.S., and Japan 

subsequently met in Bali in July to follow up on the summit and identify areas for substantial cooperation. 

Last month, the Republic of Korea and China marked the 30th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties with meaningful events held in our capitals.

Seeking to further our shared interests, we will work with China to expand our cooperation on supply chains, health, climate change, and the environment.

We will strengthen our communication and strategic dialogue to avoid misunderstandings between the two countries.

In particular, with respect to national security issues or historical issues that are related to our identity, we intend to conduct bold and decisive diplomacy based on principle.

Last month, I visited Qingdao, Shandong Province, to meet with my counterpart, Wang Yi. 

It was the fourth time I met him, including our first virtual call in May.

We will continue to keep momentum for high-level exchanges between the two countries, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit within this year.

At the invitation of National Assembly Speaker 김진표, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Li Zhanshu has just arrived in Korea.

China and Japan are the two countries that have consulates in Jeju.

As a host country, Korea hopes to revive the momentum for Korea -Japan-China trilateral cooperation.

Throughout the trilateral cooperation initiative, our three countries will enhance cooperation in response to common issues in our region and worldwide, including health, the environment, and science and technology. 

We planted the “ASEAN-ROK Friendship Tree” together this afternoon to celebrate the 55th ASEAN Day.

We will strengthen our cooperation with ASEAN member states and expand our diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific.

In addition to participating in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,  we are developing our own Indo-Pacific strategy.

The centerpiece of our strategy is ASEAN.

Our Indo-Pacific Strategy will advance mutually beneficial and

future-oriented cooperation anchored in the principles of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and grounded on our respect for ASEAN centrality.

We will strengthen strategic communications with ASEAN and take our relations to a higher level.

Korea also sincerely hopes that Myanmar will return to the path to democracy, and its situation will be settled peacefully.

With Europe, we are bolstering our health, green, and digital

partnerships and cooperation on economic security issues, including nuclear power, defense material, semiconductors, and space.

Rooted in our shared values of democracy, freedom, human rights, and rule of law, Europe and Canada are our essential partners in building a coalition of like-minded tech-leading countries.

President Yoon became the first Korean president to attend a NATO Summit this June.

Like-minded countries, including the U.S. and nations from Europe and the Indo-Pacific region, reaffirmed their strong commitment to defending universal values.

This weekend, President Yoon will make a seven-day trip to visit the UK and Canada and attend the UN General Assembly to further strengthen the coalition with partners that share common values.

In the Middle East, we hope to deepen cooperation in high-tech 

industries, such as energy, hydrogen, AI, and health.

And we will work with Africa to enhance economic partnerships, particularly in core materials of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

and new growth industries, such as ICT.

We will also foster tailored cooperation with countries in Central and South America, and Central Asia.

The Korean government recently released a draft 2023 budget plan 

that significantly expands the total amount of ODA (official development assistance).

If passed by the National Assembly, it will help us contribute to realizing global values through international development cooperation and do our part as a GPS.

The Republic of Korea was also elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the sixth consecutive term in June.

We also seek to serve as members of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council.

The North Korean nuclear and missile threat continues to be the 

most urgent security challenge we face.

North Korea has launched 31 ballistic missiles, including six 

ICBMs, this year alone.

Having completed the necessary preparations, North Korea is all 

but ready to conduct a seventh nuclear test.

Moreover, Pyongyang recently adopted a new law on its nuclear 

policy that significantly lowers the threshold for nuclear use,

heightening the fatal prospect of a pre-emptive nuclear attack.

These alarming developments clearly illustrate the tragic direction 

that the North Korean regime has opted to take.

By continuing in this direction, North Korea will only end up 

poorer and less safe, contrasting with its misguided aspirations.

More importantly, the regime will have to bear the consequences

of such a monumental misjudgment.   

In the midst of it all, my government is preparing a stern and 

holistic response to deter North Korea's nuclear threats, dissuade 

Pyongyang from further developing nuclear weapons, and achieve 

denuclearization through dialogue and diplomacy.

In this vein, I wish to stress again today that the door to dialogue 

and diplomacy remains open. 

In this light, President Yoon proposed the “Audacious Initiative” 

last month. 

He presented a clear vision for a denuclearized, peaceful, and 

prosperous Korean Peninsula through this bold initiative. 

He also demonstrated our sincere willingness to engage in serious 

dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea. 

While we are regretful of North Korea’s initial negative response, 

it will not, in any way, affect our unwavering diplomatic efforts

to achieve sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula.

We urge North Korea to immediately cease its nuclear threats

and respond positively to our Audacious Initiative.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated the leadership role that the local governments can play in addressing the transnational challenges.

Local governments are on the frontlines of such challenges as the pandemic and climate change.

The Foreign Ministry is exploring new partnerships with local governments in light of these changes. 

We hope to help local governments build the capacity and expertise to engage with counterparts worldwide.

On the other hand, we wish to leverage the leadership and experience of local governments in moving forward the GPS agenda.

And Jeju is a perfect partner for this new and important collaboration.

With the Korean Peninsula to the north, Japan to the east, and China to the west, Jeju Island is at the center of the three Asian countries.

As the Korean Peninsula is still divided into the North and South, Jeju is the gateway that bridges Korea with East Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and the world.

In addition, the sea lane that connects Jeju with the coast of Taiwan

is a vital maritime transportation route used to ship almost all of Korea’s trade commodities.

The Korea Foundation and the Overseas Koreans Foundation is headquartered in Jeju.

In this regard, I greatly welcome the ASEAN-Korea Centre 

launching the “Jeju ASEAN Hall” and the Foreign Ministry signing an MOU with Jeju Province on public diplomacy cooperation today.

This is the second time the Ministry has signed such an MOU with a local government after we did with Busan in February this year.

Taking this opportunity, I would also like to emphasize that the 

entire nation of the Republic of Korea is rallying to host the World 

Expo 2030 in Busan.

Let me remind you that today, September 15, marks the 15th 

anniversary of the International Day of Democracy, which the UN 

General Assembly recognized in 2007.

Busan is a city that played an instrumental role in laying the 

foundation for Korea’s democratic development following the 

devastating Korean War.

In essence, Busan was our wartime capital serving as the last 

bastion of a free, democratic Korea during the war.

Had Busan been captured by the North, one would not be able to 

see the Republic of Korea as it is today.

Emerging from the war into Korea’s second-largest city, Busan 

now has the world’s fifth-largest port.

Thus, it is our profound wish to share the wisdom and insights 

gained from the unique experience of Busan with the rest of the 

world by holding the 2030 Busan Expo.

In Jeju, whale tours have increased after a popular K-Drama 

“Extraordinary Attorney Woo” featured Jeju’s whale habitat.

There’s a book on Korea titled “Shrimp to Whale,” written by Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Professor of International Relations at King’s College London.

Whales roam throughout all over the world and are highly intelligent.

Just like dolphins or whales, looking further afield, thinking smart, moving proactively, Korean diplomacy should expand its horizon.

Let me also remind you that Jeju is also famous as the only place 

in the world to have been certified with the UNESCO triple crown in natural science: namely UNESCO’s “Global Geopark,”  “Biosphere Reserve,” and “World National Heritage.”

I hope you can take some time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of this treasure island during your stay.  

Thank you.  /END/