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C.S. Yang: Creating a Roadmap for the Korean Peninsula

Address to the International Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea - February 9-13, 2013

Your Excellencies. Distinguished leaders. Ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Universal Peace Federation and The Washington Times Foundation, I welcome you to this International Leadership Conference and to this special session on our Northeast Asia Peace Initiative. On behalf of the Founder and organizers, I want to express my appreciation to the ILC participants and the international Ambassadors for Peace, 165 participants from 60 nations, for traveling such distances and braving this cold weather, to attend this important conference. I also want to acknowledge and welcome the two hundred Korean Ambassadors for Peace who have come to attend today’s program. Thank you for being here today.

As we gather here in the heart of Seoul at one of its premier hotels, we should recognize that we are only 40 miles from the DMZ, the demilitarized zone that has separated North and South Korea for the past 60 years. A permanent peace treaty has never been signed between North and South Korea. As such, the people of this peninsula live under the constant threat of war.

At this time, due to repeated aggressive military actions from the North, the policy of South Korea’s military is to make an immediate response to any military action coming from the North. I say this simply to remind you that the topic we are addressing this morning is a topic of immense geopolitical and humanitarian importance. It is a matter of life and death, not only for Korea, but for all of Asia.

You may ask why non-governmental organizations like UPF and The Washington Times Foundation are involved in discussions of political and military issues in Northeast Asia, as well as in the Middle East, the other significant flashpoint in global affairs, and which will be addressed in tomorrow’s sessions. Please know that our aim is simply to help prevent conflict and promote reconciliation. In the case of the Korean peninsula, a small spark has the potential to ignite a devastating world war that would bring in its wake, unspeakable suffering for the people of this nation and region.

We cannot rely exclusively on governments to resolve this crisis. Civil society has an important role to play in global affairs, and has unique capacities to initiate “soft power” approaches to conflict resolution and peace.

Many of you know that Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon were born in North Korea. Their lives, along with millions of their countrymen, were turned upside down as a result of the Korean War.

The Korean War almost destroyed this peninsula and its people. The war divided 10 million families. Many remain divided to this day. Father Moon witnessed this disaster firsthand. Since then, he always longed to see the reunification of his homeland of Korea, and the reunion of the Korean people. This was his constant hope and aspiration.

He kept this hope alive despite the terrible realities he faced. He had been imprisoned under President Kim Il Sung’s regime in a North Korean concentration camp, from 1948 to 1950. He was also marked for assassination by the same regime. And yet, despite all, he made an historic trip to North Korea in 1991 and met personally with Kim Il Sung. Father Moon strongly advised Kim Il Sung to reconcile with South Korea, to abandon juche ideology.

During their meetings, Rev. Moon and President Kim Il Sung agreed on five specific points to hasten the peaceful unification of North and South Korea. This document was signed in North Korea on December 5, 1991. Since that time, a consistent and strong effort has been underway to build bridges of understanding and cooperation between the two countries.

Let me mention two concrete examples. First, in the area of sports, Father Moon asked the Sorocabba football team, a premier club in Brazil founded by Father Moon, to participate in competitions with North Korean football teams, and to help upgrade their footfall capacities. Second, in the area of trade and commerce for peace and development, he initiated a project aimed at building of an international peace highway, railroad and tunnel system that would form a major artery linking South Korea and North Korea, as well as Japan, China, Russia, and beyond through a Bering Strait tunnel. He also invested in an auto manufacturing enterprise and a hotel in the North.

I also want to recognize the humanitarian and cultural work that the Women’s Federation for World Peace. WFWP, as an important NGO affiliated with the United Nations, has been actively supporting programs in North Korea for many years.

Today’s program is the fourth in a recent series of international meetings. Our first meeting was held in the Japanese Parliament in Tokyo in August 2013 featuring distinguished experts from Japan, Korea and the United States. That same month, we held a similar program in Seoul. And in September, we hosted a third program of American specialists in Washington, DC. Our aim, throughout this series, is to develop a roadmap for permanent peace and stability in Northeast Asia, working toward eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Of course this is no easy task. The complexities are immense. Nevertheless, it is imperative that the governments of both Koreas, along with the USA, Russia, China and Japan continue their work to find a solution to this ongoing crisis.

At the same time, civil-society NGOs like The Washington Times Foundation, the Universal Peace Federation and WFWP should encourage “soft power” solutions and develop “track two,” people-to-people diplomatic efforts that promote trust and mutual respect between the people of North and South Korea, and among all the nations in the region.

We must not be naïve or blind to the “hard power” realities that we face in this effort. National interests, including political, military and economic interests are very much at play, and cannot be ignored.

Nevertheless, we are committed to ongoing efforts to prevent conflict and promote peace in Northeast Asia. For this reason, we are considering a variety of follow-up programs for our Northeast Asia Peace Initiative, in Russia, China, Japan, the USA and even in Pyongyang. In addition to academic forums, we also want to encourage the broadest possible expansion of trade between the two Koreas. The industrial complex at Kaesong is an important step in the right direction. In addition, cultural and sports exchanges can also help build trust between the two Koreas.

At the inter-governmental level, it is extremely important that the principal leaders of the main stakeholder nations in the region continue their efforts to reduce tensions and reach a peaceful agreement. For this reason, we support the concept of establishing a Northeast Asian union, similar to other regional intergovernmental entities such as the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Pacific Island Forum, the African Union, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Let me conclude by acknowledging that we have a world-class panel of experts with us this morning. As our keynote speaker we have the former U.S. Ambassador to Korea, Christopher Hill. Ambassador Hill served as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In addition, our panel includes Dr. Alexander Zhebin who, as Director of the Center for Korean Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, is a key player in the formulation of his government policies on Korean Peninsula matters. We also have Prof. Hiroshi Yamada, a well-known humanitarian activist and scholar on Korean Peninsula issues. We are fortunate to have chairing this session, my good friend, Dr. Alexandre Mansourov, one of the foremost experts in America, on North Korea.

Thank you for your attention, and for your participation in today’s program. Let us do our best to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and throughout the world.

Thank you very much.