According to a dispatch from Korean Cultural Centre Nigeria, The Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the significance of exchanges of special envoys between South and North Korea and the arrangement of an inter-Korean summit on the occasion of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The participation by North Korea in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the reciprocal dispatch of special envoys elicited the possibility of talks between the United States and the North and an agreement on holding an inter-Korean summit.
Special Envoy Kim Yo Jong, first vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, hand-delivered a personal letter from Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, to President Moon Jae-in on February 10.
Beyond its success as a peace Olympics, the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has made a great stride toward the denuclearization and settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula. All this can be ascribable to inter-Korean talks together with strong support from the United States. If it leads to the denuclearization of North Korea and the normalization of Pyeongyang-Washington ties, it will become a breakthrough for bringing peace to the world as well.
There are many critical junctures ahead on the path toward denuclearization and the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is imperative to lay the cornerstone for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula step by step while engaging in talks with North Korea and working together with the international community, including the United States.
We are being given an invaluable opportunity to accomplish denuclearization, the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula and the opening of a path toward common prosperity in the two Koreas. If the inter-Korean summit and a U.S.-North Korea summit take place one after the other over the next two months, it will be possible to expect consequential changes. Our success will make a dramatic turnaround in world history.
The fundamental denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the settlement of peace will depend on whether we can seize on this opportunity. It is not an accident that we have been able to create this opportunity—it has become possible only because it is the right path to take. The entire world is looking forward to peace, not war and a diplomatic solution, not a military action.
Panmunjeom is the place that symbolizes division and military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.
The venue was first proposed by the South Korean side. When special envoy Kim Yo Jong visited South Korea February 9-11, she conveyed the invitation from Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea Kim Jong Un to President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyeongyang. To this, the South Korean side proposed to hold a summit for peace at Panmunjeom, a symbol of the division and confrontation. This proposal was accepted by Chairman Kim Jong Un when the South Korean special envoys made a trip to the North March 5-6. Accordingly, it was agreed upon that the summit would be held at Panmunjeom.
As various functions that usually accompany a summit can be omitted if it is held at Panmunjeom, the two leaders will be able to focus on their discussions.
The goal of the 2018 South-North Korea Summit, is that focus will be placed on laying the foundation for denuclearization and the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as for progress in inter-Korean relations, rather than on reaching an agreement on numerous fronts.
Given the fact that inter-Korean relations have remained severed for a long time, thus deteriorating, it will be of great significance for the two leaders to build mutual trust through candid and heart-to-heart discussions.
The agenda of the 2018 South-North Korea Summit, the dispatch said, during the summit, a comprehensive discussion will be held on a wide range of issues, including denuclearization and the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as progress in inter-Korean relations.
As of now, negotiations between the two sides are underway with regard to specific wording of agenda topics.
Preparations will be made in a manner that helps the two leaders develop mutual understanding and trust through frank heart-to-heart discussion.
With the preparation committee for the inter-Korean summit playing a pivotal role, ministries and agencies concerned will engage in close consultations to make thoroughgoing preparations.
Concerning denuclearization, it is most important to proceed to the practical resolution of the issue through the inter-Korean summit and an ensuing summit between the United States and North Korea.
In this connection, the inter-Korean summit will serve as an opportunity for the two sides to engage in candid discussions to narrow their differences in opinion in the run-up to the U.S.-North Korea summit.
When South Korean officials mentioned the issue at meetings in the past, North Korean officials used to strongly protest against it and stopped any discussion from continuing.
During the inter-Korean high-level talks held on January 9 this year and the exchanges of visits by special envoys, however, North Korean officials listened to what their counterparts had to say until they finished. They also showed an about-face in their attitude to the extent that they explained the background of the North’s nuclear development.
It is inappropriate to jump to the conclusion that changes in their attitudes are for gaining more time. Denuclearization is the unequivocal objective for South Korea, to achieve which we will engage in the talks with a clear stance in the interest of our country.
“We will not be overly optimistic or turn a blind eye to certain aspects. Instead, preparations will be thoroughly made in consideration of all possible situations and possibilities,” the dispatch noted strongly.
North Korea announced last year that it had completed its nuclear arsenal, but when the South Korean delegation visited the North, Chairman Kim Jong Un expressed his commitment to denuclearization and his intent to have dialogue with the United States to this end. The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) intends to make utmost efforts to encourage the North to make a resolution for denuclearization during the upcoming meetings, including the inter-Korean summit, and to follow through on its decision.
The biggest obstacle in the inter-Korean summit and a summit between the United States and North Korea is the lack of trust. Implementation of agreements reached through negotiations has to be predictable, but there is a shortage of trust between the two Koreas and between the United States and North Korea. The ROK Government intends to do its best to prepare for the inter-Korean summit so that it can be the first step to recover trust between the two Koreas and between the United States and the North.
It is expected that there will be heart-to-heart discussions on various matters needed to achieve denuclearization and settle permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. A range of measures can also be discussed to prevent accidental military conflicts, ease military tension and build trust.
At the inter-Korean summit, issues regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the settlement of peace and the enhancement of inter-Korean relations will be discussed in a balanced manner. For the promotion of better inter-Korean relations, overall issues such as inter-Korean talks, exchanges and cooperation as well as humanitarian concerns are expected to be discussed.
The ROK Government is reviewing a range of measures for agreements between the two Koreas to be consistently implemented without being influenced by external factors such as the change of Administration. Pursuant to Article 21, Paragraph 3 of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, South-North Korean agreements, which incur heavy financial burdens or require legislation, will be ratified by the National Assembly to ensure they will be implemented in a faithful manner.
The inter-Korean summit was not agreed upon in a short time without any preparation. Beginning with the Berlin Initiative, the South Korean Government has proposed consistent policies toward the North and sought positive responses from it. It seems that North Korea has some areas of common understanding with the South on the direction of South Korea’s policies and that is why the North responded to the proposal for inter-Korean talks. Successfully carrying out inter-Korean talks in late April and the following summit between the United States and North Korea will be an important turning point on issues regarding the Peninsula and inter-Korean relations.
With strong international sanctions against the North still intact at present, it is true that there are substantial limits to the type of economic cooperation projects South Korea can pursue together with the North.
Nevertheless, we are seeking to realize the New Economic Map Initiative for the Korean Peninsula while trying to create the possible conditions on the Korean Peninsula bearing in mind that an economic approach will be necessary to create a peaceful environment.
Under these circumstances, we are approaching the issue from the position that we can review potential projects we can do independently and later let the North participate if there is a substantive progress toward a solution to the nuclear issue.
It would be possible only when there is actual progress in solving the North Korean nuclear issue. Although we are internally making preparations considering that a bright future could be opened together if the North gives up its nuclear programs, we need more time before starting full-fledged discussions.