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T. Regan: Address to World Summit 2022, Session 4

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022


Note: World leaders were invited to World Summit 2022 but due to air travel restrictions, participated by submitting a video message. The following text is a transcription of the recording.

Hello everyone. I want to thank the Universal Peace Federation and the organization’s founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for all she and the Federation have done to promote a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula, including bringing together all of you here—heads of state, members of the media, members of the business community, and members of so many different faith groups—for this critical World Summit 2022. THIS is what it takes: coming together.

I’m a long-time American journalist who has spent my career as a television news anchor covering finance, politics, and international relations. I’m a big believer in everyone in this world getting the opportunity and, importantly, the freedom to prosper economically, and for every human being to be able to go to bed at night not worried about whether there’s a risk for war, a risk of starvation, a risk of losing one’s ability to think and speak freely—and it’s why I’m so honored to be part of this prestigious event here today.

Again, my thanks to the Moon family for all they are doing to promote peace, as well as to the co-chairs of this event: His Excellency Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia and his excellency Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

One more acknowledgment I’d like to make, because this is a special year for a special publication. The Washington Times, which has shown such a commitment to reporting all sides of the news, is celebrating its 40th anniversary—so congratulations to all the journalists, to the business team at The Washington Times, and especially to Chris Dolan, president and executive editor, as well as my good friend, opinion editor Charlie Hurt whom I’ve been on television with many times over the years, and to Tom McDevitt, who serves as Chairman. Way to go, guys! Forty years and many more to go!

We’re living through a difficult period. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve learned how vulnerable we all really are, as nations across the globe confront not just the pandemic but increasingly the economic challenges that have come along with the pandemic, including a supply-chain crisis, an escalating global poverty rate, inflation that won’t quit, increasing conflicts between nations, and, sadly, a persistent breakdown in the family unit which, in my view as the mother of three young children myself, leads to so many other social and economic problems.

Anyway, despite these growing challenges, there is hope for peace. A unified Korea would SHOW THE WORLD that anything is possible.

I have worked with, gone to school with, and grown close to many people from South Korea over the years. My cousin, who is like a brother to me (we grew up together), taught English for several years in Seoul. He fell in love with a wonderful woman from Seoul, and they’re both in the U.S. in my neck of the woods in the Northeast, raising three beautiful, kind and highly accomplished children. One of the things I have always admired most about Hey Young—my cousin’s wife—is her complete devotion to her family and her children. The importance of family, of children, and the education of one’s children are values that she and I share as mothers. The support that comes from the family unit is what helps a country to achieve prosperity, success and most importantly, peace.

These are values I know Dr. Moon is passionate about as well, and these are values that have served South Korea so well. Consider the extraordinary transformation of the Korean economy. It really is the ultimate economic success story, and much of that success, I believe, comes from the family, including women, mothers who are nurturing children and helping them to find their own paths in the world.

So just think what it would mean if families could be reunited and children could grow up with the security of knowing their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins—their entire extended family. Consider the economic POWERHOUSE that the Korean peninsula really could become. The South has already proven it. Thanks to strong family values, along with smart and early investment in the manufacturing industry which over the decades has expanded into investment in more and more industries including the tech sector which has made South Korea a world leader in innovation, a place where investors from all over the world want to be putting their money, because they know it will grow. South Korea has grown into the tenth-largest economy in the world, with nearly $2 trillion dollars a year in economic output. Just imagine what it could become WHEN it is reunited with the North.

To put these accomplishments in perspective, the per-capita, per-person economic output in South Korea was $79 in 1960. Today? The per capita GDP, according to the World Bank, is around $32,000. South Korea is doing something right! It has created an economic model that we can all look to with admiration. And, like I said, it’s just the beginning, because a united peninsula could grow the economy so much more, enabling a united Korea to double or even triple its GDP.

I look at the contrast between the economies of North and South Korea as an incredible case study in how free-market capitalism has the power to lift so many people out of poverty and inspire innovation. Communism, conversely, robs people of their dignity and leaves them, as we see so many in North Korea today, in an actual state of starvation. While in South Korea, there’s tremendous advancement and innovation in medical care, the most basic needs of the people in the North cannot be met. And, it’s not right, because the people deserve so much more.

But, the North and South CAN be reunited, and this can be done in a peaceful way, through nuclear disarmament. To do that, we need the whole world on board. All of us.

I know many Americans are committed to this. In fact, many of them are speaking at this event, leaders I’ve interviewed many times, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and former President Donald Trump.

But, this can’t be just a U.S. effort. The quest for peace needs to be a global one, which is why I’m so heartened to see that 157 different countries are represented. We need, collectively, to come together as one world, together, to look out for and champion the human rights of the people in North Korea. We can do so, peacefully, using EVERY diplomatic channel available.

As a financial journalist, I have long considered one of our most powerful tools to influence policy is through economic sanctions. When capital is denied, when trade channels are cut off, leaders that are oppressing their people must reconsider their policies. But, the only way sanctions work, and I mean this, is if the world is together—and united—in our efforts. In other words, when sanctions are placed on North Korea, we cannot risk rogue actors going behind the scenes and offering aid through other channels, because when that happens, all it does is cause more misery for the people, and they’re NOT the ones that should pay the price.

So, we need to stand together on this. There cannot be any backroom deals. We need to ensure that we help each other in our efforts for reunification. And if we do that, if we have buy-in and commitment from the world community, the Korean peninsula can be reunited, families will get to see their long-lost loved ones, and everyone in Korea will have the chance to prosper economically. That’s good for the Asian economy as a whole, it’s good for global investors, and it’s good for the world.

So, thank you to everyone for being here, for your personal commitment to seeing peace in the world today. We’ve got a chance to do this. Your commitment matters.



To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.