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C. Kim: Address to World Summit

Address to World Summit 2019, Seoul, Korea, February 7–11, 2019


The peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula will bring about complete peace on the Korean Peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia. Korea clearly seeks international peace and cooperation. The Korean people were the first ones who met with sacrifice when peace was destroyed in Northeast Asia. Thus, the Korean people have sought autonomous independence and international peace ever since its period of Japanese imperialism.

South and North Korea have held talks and have been emphasizing peace and cooperation even in the midst of confrontation between each other. Peace and cooperation are basic qualities the Korean people strive towards. Following unification, a unified Korea will abide by three principles in contributing towards international peace. First, a unified Korea will aim towards nuclear-free peace. In the case that the Korean people strive toward a unified nation that possesses nuclear power, neighboring nations would not support the unification of the Korean Peninsula. Unification is impossible if the Korean people strive towards becoming a nuclear nation. Accordingly, unification on the Korean Peninsula can be said to be synonymous with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Once the Korean Peninsula is unified, North Korea’s nuclear crisis will be cleanly resolved.

Second, a unified Korea will become the base for the stability of the Northeast Asian region. Instability in Northeast Asia stemmed primarily from the clashes between maritime and continental forces, or from the possibility of such clashes. The Korean Peninsula became the source of instability in Northeast Asian affairs when Korean forces were considered weak. Notably, following the end of the 19th century, the three large-scale wars between two great powers arose on the Korean Peninsula.

If the Korean Peninsula is not unified and confrontation and instability continue, there is a high possibility that these will give rise to conflicts between maritime and continental forces. If the Korean Peninsula is unified, this unified Korea will have a population of 80 million and likely become a regional power and the fifth highest economic power in the world. Such a regional power will come to stand at the center of Northeast Asia, where the world’s top four powers rage in fierce competition. This unified nation would be unable to threaten neighboring nations, but likewise, neighboring nations would be also unable to threaten the unified Korea.

Once the Korean Peninsula is unified, the inter-Korean confrontation that could cause intervention from outside forces, in principle, will disappear. A unified Korea, as a stable and strong nation, would give no excuses that would enable neighboring nations to interfere. There would no longer be confrontations between neighboring powers with the Korean Peninsula sandwiched between them. A unified Korea would greatly contribute towards peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia. This shift would greatly improve the security predicament of Northeast Asian nations and, further, the national interests of neighboring nations.

Third, a unified Korea would strive towards open economic cooperation. Without a trace of doubt, the economic system of a unified Korea would be a free market economic system and would adopt an open system that conducts free trade with all the nations of the world. In the meantime, the North Korean region would perform its role as the “missing link” in establishing Northeast Asian economic cooperation. With this “missing link” resolved, the Korean Peninsula’s economic bloc, now ramped up in scale, would be connected together even with the northeast region of mainland China and the maritime region of Russia and form a giant, dynamic economic unit.

In the process of a unified Korea performing its role as a hub that links oceans and continents together, the North Korean region would become a repository of investment in infrastructure. Participation from neighboring nations and the international community would be unavoidably necessary to provide the tremendous financial resources that would go into the infrastructure investment of the North Korean region. This will present an opportunity to raise the value added to the investments of Northeast Asia as a whole, revive that economy and revitalize the global economy.

Tasks Towards the Unification of the Korean Peninsula

South Korea seeks unification and promotes peaceful unification based on the fundamental order of free democracy. The South Korean government, for successive generations, has advanced exchange and cooperation on the foundation of having solidified security, developed inter-Korean relations, and furthered policies in efforts toward advancing unification. Critical emphasis has been placed on security in a realistic sense. In order for South and North Korea to establish peaceful unification, first and foremost, a military clash must not arise within the Korean Peninsula. We can restore ethnic homogeneity and achieve mutual prosperity through inter-Korean openness, exchange and cooperation only when peace is maintained throughout the Korean Peninsula. South and North Korean residents have formed communities across various fields, and it is favorable in achieving the unification of national systems on this foundation.

This is the approach to unification that the South Korean government has been adhering to. The South Korean national community unification formula that the Roh Administration established following the Cold War is rooted in such principles, and this commitment is being maintained even now after 30 years have passed. Although North Korea sought unification by military force or a South Korean revolution, South Korea has acted against such forms of unification that undermine peace.

South and North Korea have drafted various agreements pertaining to unification from the time they officially began inter-Korean dialogue since the early 1970s, with the first being the July 4th North–South Korea Joint Statement in 1972. South and North Korea agreed on the so-called three principles of unification on the July 4th North–South Korea Joint Statement. These principles are (1) Unification must be resolved autonomously without reliance on or intervention from outside forces;( 2) Unification must be realized in a peaceful manner that is not based on the use of armed forces in mutual opposition to each other; and (3) Transcending differences in thought and ideological systems, South and North Korea must first seek ethnic unity as one people.

Until just before this agreement was made, South and North Korea considered each other only as targets to be destroyed and were in indefinite confrontation with each other. The fact that South and North Korea commenced dialogue, agreed to unify, and concurred on principles that they must follow during the unification process can be construed as a vital change in direction. The most significant aspect of the agreement made during the July 4th North–South Korea Joint Statement was that it was bound based on said principles of peace and unification. Although the Korean people long for unification, they do not hope for unification that undermines and ultimately destroys peace. Article 4 of the South Korean Constitution states that unification must be established peacefully.

This rejects unification based on anti-peace approaches, including war, hierarchical revolutions and other means of aggression or partisan political maneuvering, instead seeking peaceful unification based on the free election of the people. The principle of peaceful unification is even declared in South Korea’s national community unification formula. South Korea seeks the alleviation of military tensions as well as the establishment of a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula to establish peaceful unification. From such a position, South Korea is opposing North Korea’s nuclear development and demanding denuclearization.

The second important inter-Korean agreement pertaining to reunification is the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation Between the South and the North, or the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement. South and North Korea signed the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement on December 13, 1991, in which they agreed to “[recognize] that their relations, not being a relationship between states, constitute a special interim relationship stemming from the process towards reunification; [pledging] to exert joint efforts to achieve peaceful unification.” In summary, they agreed on inter-Korean relations as a “special interim relationship” as part of the Korean people.

The objectives of this agreement reflect the following concessions. First, South and North Korea are disclosing their commitment to unify to the Korean people and other countries. Second, South and North Korea clarified that, having a connection in which they will unify, they do not see each other as sovereign nations, and thus, have preemptive rights to each other’s regions and have the right to fully unify. Third, the resolution of the Korean people to unify is an expression of their right to self-determination as a people, and they demand the international community, in turn, respect the Korean people’s right to unify. The theory of “special interim relationship” stands as the most vital principle among the various agreements made following the beginning of inter-Korean dialogue in 1972, and inter-Korean relations are developing based on this special interim relationship.

In the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, North and South Korea agreed that “[the South and the North] shall recognize and respect each other’s systems, . . . the two sides shall not interfere in each other’s internal affairs, . . .the two sides shall not slander or vilify each other,” and “the two sides shall not attempt any actions of sabotage or subversion against each other,” In addition, they agreed that “the two sides shall endeavor together to transform the present state of armistice into a solid state of peace between the South and the North, and shall abide by the present Military Armistice Agreement (of July 27, 1953) until such a state of peace has been realized.” They also resolved to abide by the current South–North demarcation line and areas of jurisdiction, not invade each other, and “carry out steps to build military confidence and realize arms reduction.”

Furthermore, they agreed on implementing exchange and cooperation across all fields beginning with economic cooperation. South and North Korea also signed the “Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” when adopting the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement to eliminate the danger of an outbreak of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. In summary, South and North Korea “shall not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons” and “shall not possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.” Although South and North Korea made such a comprehensive and important agreement in December 1991 to resolve the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula and advance towards unification, this agreement was not kept.

The third important agreement pertaining to unification is the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration. For the first time after 55 years of division in June 2000, the top leaders of South and North Korea sat down face to face and commenced in-depth discussions regarding the reunification issue of the Korean people and the Korean Peninsula and adopted the North–South Joint Declaration. In the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration, the leaders of South and North Korea agreed that they must “resolve the question of reunification independently” with the Korean people as the ones responsible and go on to establish unification “gradually.”

In summary, South and North Korea agreed on the following: (1) “to resolve the question of reunification independently and through the joint efforts of the Korean people, who are the masters of the country,” (2) “for the achievement of reunification, … there is a common element in the South’s concept of a confederation and the North’s formula for a loose form of federation … [and] promote reunification in that direction,” and (3) to resolve the issue of separated family members and relatives, they decided to implement exchange and cooperation in all fields. The leaders of South and North Korea acknowledged the reality that the unification of South and North Korea cannot be realized immediately and agreed that transitional, intermediate stages are required as steps towards gradual and lasting unification.

Although North Korea immediately then declared the idea of a unified federal state and since then has stuck to the idea of a Federal Republic of Koryo that seeks the homogenization of the Korean ethnic community, it can be said that it acknowledged that, realistically speaking, such a federation is impossible and the homogenization of South and North Korea must first take place. The June 15th Joint Declaration confirmed South and North Korea’s consensus in the necessity to realize political unification after having first secured homogenization through exchange and cooperation, while maintaining their respective systems and governments. This is the first time South and North Korea agreed regarding the method of unification. Inter-Korean cooperation rapidly took off following the inter-Korean Summit in 2000. At that time, 2.7 million tons of rice and 2.55 million tons of fertilizer were provided, and we resolved the starvation of our North Korean brethren. Twenty thousand separated family members and relatives met each other, and many people crossed the border and went back. Railroads and roads were connected between South and North Korea, and 1.8 million trains and vehicles went back and forth across the border. The Kaesong Industrial Complex began operations, and over 54,000 North Korean workers worked together there. And 2 million people have even gone sightseeing to North Korea. North Korea hosted the second summit in 2007, and the 10.4 Declaration was adopted. All of these agreements mentioned above encouraged joint progression toward inter-Korean cooperation.

Despite South and North Korea having maintained a confrontational relationship, they jointly agreed on the principles they must abide by in the process of unification, the nature of inter-Korean relations, and the method of unification, while having shared the basic principle of seeing unification as a must. However, the development of inter-Korean relations and the expansion of inter-Korean exchanges were unable to stop North Korea’s nuclear development. North Korea developed its nuclear program without any sort of consideration of inter-Korean relations.

Even though South and North Korea made reasonable agreements, the biggest reason these agreements failed to be implemented was because North Korea developed its nuclear program. South and North Korea held three summits in 2018 and adopted the Panmunjom Declaration and Pyongyang Declaration. These agreements were made to resolve the nuclear crisis, alleviate military tensions, and make progress toward making groundbreaking developments in inter-Korean relations through multi-faceted dialogues, meetings, exchanges and cooperation. Even though identical agreements had been made in the past, this failure was repeated. Based on this experience, the resolution of North Korea’s nuclear crisis will become the prerequisite to implementing agreements for peace on the Korean peninsula and the development of inter-Korean relations.

The Realization of Active Peace Through North Korea’s Denuclearization: Establishment of a Peace Regime and Mutual Prosperity

North Korean relations with neighboring nations, and certainly inter-Korean relations, will begin to normalize once North Korea discards its nuclear program. North Korea is bound to be able to realize economic prosperity through active cooperation with the international community, and the Korean Peninsula is bound to achieve a state of lasting peace. At the end of the 1980s, North Korea’s nuclear crisis began to involve the international community.

Although various denuclearization negotiations have been carried out since then, North Korea unceasingly developed its nuclear program and declared the completion of its nuclear weapons after conducting its sixth nuclear experiment in September 2017, as well as the Hwasong-15 ICBM test-launch in November. North Korea already elucidated in its constitution that it is a nuclear state (at the fifth meeting of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly on April 13, 2012). North Korea revealed its nuclear policies, including nuclear arms reduction, negative security assurances (NSA), and nuclear nonproliferation at the Worker’s Party of Korea Assembly on April 20, 2018, and this was North Korea declaring itself as a nuclear state.

North Korea even revealed that it “declares to Korea and other countries that it will no longer make or test nuclear weapons, nor use or proliferate them” as part of the New Year’s address; this, too, can only be seen as how North Korea, as a nuclear state, will carry out its obligation of nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation. In addition, the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” that North Korea speaks of is clearly not referring to the denuclearization of North Korea. We can understand that nuclear dismantlement negotiations with North Korea will not be easy.

North Korea, until now, has expressed its commitment to denuclearization, at least in words. Premier Kim Il-sung, when he was still alive, confirmed the commitment to denuclearization in stating that North Korea has no intention, or even the true capability, of developing a nuclear program. North Korea promised denuclearization through inter-Korean agreements, as well as agreements made with the international community. North Korea consistently promised verified denuclearization through the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula (February 19, 1992) that it made with South Korea, the “Geneva Agreed Framework (October 21, 1994) that it signed with the United States, and the 9.19 Joint Statement (September 19, 2005) agreed on at the Six-Party Talks with South and North Korea, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia in attendance.

In the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration adopted at the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit and the U.S.-North Korea Summit’s June 12 Singapore Statement, Chairman Kim Jong-un promised to realize a nuclear-free Korean peninsula through complete denuclearization, and he is revealing in his 2019 New Year’s address that he strives to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean peninsula as his steadfast commitment toward denuclearization. Although North Korea had been repeatedly expressing its commitment to denuclearization and promising to denuclearize from the past until now, it has, in fact, continued developing their nuclear program. It completed its nuclear program and is now making claims as if it were seeking nuclear arms reduction, rather than nuclear renunciation.

Thus, North Korea’s denuclearization can only be trusted once it is expressed through actions, rather than mere words. North Korea has experienced many setbacks up until now due to its nuclear development, including global isolation and economic sanctions. Meanwhile, South Korea and neighboring nations have been continuously and consistently affirming that they will normalize relations and provide economic support once North Korea relinquishes its nuclear program. North Korea can take its place among the prospering global economies and improve the lives of its citizens by first denuclearizing. North Korea and the international community must learn from failed denuclearization negotiations of the past three decades and act ever so boldly and swiftly.

In order to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, first, a “big deal” must be made. When we examine North Korean nuclear negotiations after 1990, North Korea zealously advanced nuclear development, but the countries with the duty of restraining the North Korean nuclear program did not make noteworthy efforts toward its resolution while trivializing and underestimating the development of North Korea’s nuclear program. This is, perhaps, the most critical factor inherent in why nuclear negotiations have failed. The international community must implore North Korea, through pressure and persuasion, that its system will not sustain itself if it does not discard its nuclear program. And convince North Korea that it can establish itself as a safe and economically prosperous state, once it abandons its nuclear program.

Once North Korea accepts the reasonable denuclearization measures that the international community proposes, including inspection and verification on this level, there will be a need for the international community, in its correspondence, to negotiate at once toward providing measures to serve North Korea’s interests, such as the normalization of relations, guarantee of nonaggression, a peace treaty, elimination of any nuclear threat from the Korean Peninsula’s vicinity, admission into international economic organizations and economic support. A peaceful resolution based on dialogue is otherwise impossible, if North Korea does not accept nuclear renunciation and measures for its verification, despite the international community proposing such conditions. The withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces in Korea should not be negotiable in the North Korean nuclear negotiation process. It is critically important for U.S. Armed Forces in Korea to maintain their present conditions for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. The outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula is virtually impossible if there are U.S. Armed Forces in Korea. This is something that North Korea also admits.

Secondly, the core agenda must be implemented within a short time. Until now, if an issue occurred, the international community would bandage it each time and simply let time elapse. They agreed on a stepwise approach of starting with simple surface issues and resolving the critical core issues later. Once they entered the implementation stage, disagreements occurred from the early measures, and the more critical issues could not be even touched and were ultimately dismissed. With the passage of time in this manner, North Korea’s nuclear development has advanced heavily. Because of this, North Korea came forward to dialogue, while claiming that it will denuclearize if pressure escalates again. Once dialogue began, the pressure was relieved, and the denuclearization issue again went back to Square One. Consequently, dialogue became a means of North Korea relieving pressure through buying time, resulting eventually in North Korea achieving nuclear armament.

Now the underlying aspect of the North Korean nuclear crisis has changed. In the past, the seemingly logical claim that nuclear products will not be produced if nuclear development is frozen applied, but now this freeze resulted in the state of us agreeing to acknowledge North Korea’s possession and threat of nuclear weapons. A stepwise solution has thus become an unreasonable and dangerous method. Therefore, it is now critical to first take on core measures, such as the renunciation of nuclear weapons, substances, and facilities, as well as the guarantee of normalizing relations and nonaggression, and eliminating the source of distrust from the first stage. Even if a stepwise approach is unavoidable, there must be firm agreements in which at least such core measures are completed within a one- to two-year time limit.

Thirdly, the most important aspect of denuclearization is “reliable inspection and verification.” The cause of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Geneva Agreement and September 19 Joint Statement being broken is all due to objections in the method of verification. North Korea must completely disclose all nuclear weapons, substances, facilities, and current nuclear research, completely remove suspicion from the international community through unlimited inspection, verification, and surveillance, and make this irreversible.

We can succeed once denuclearization negotiations come to have the three components as described above going forward. The possibility of failure will be high if this cannot be done. However, the roadblock to cooperation between North Korea and the international community will disappear once North Korea’s nuclear issue is resolved. Neighboring nations and North Korea, and certainly South and North Korea, will resolve mutual trust, normalize relations, and achieve economic cooperation. Such a state of active peace will be achieved.

Passive Peace Through the Balance of Forces: The Task of Maintaining Ethnic Identity While Maintaining Security

We must seek the complete renunciation of North Korea’s nuclear program. We cannot say that peace on the Korean Peninsula has come if this does not occur. If this predicament of North Korea possessing nuclear weapons is not resolved, it will be an unavoidable choice for Korea and neighboring nations to establish a deterrence system and maintain security in response. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program absolutely destroys the balance of inter-Korean forces. If its ICBMs are discarded or its nuclear program frozen, at a minimum, South Korea’s safety is not guaranteed. Inter-Korean military imbalance has a high possibility of triggering a military clash. Such was the case with the Korean War. North Korea’s possession of nuclear technology signifying the failure of not only the Korean Peninsula but also Northeast Asia’s nonproliferation system will spark an arms race among Northeast Asian nations. If an arms race and military tensions snowball in this region, the Korean people will be the ones to suffer the most damage.

Peace on the Korean Peninsula is not guaranteed if North Korean nuclear technology is not discarded. Claiming that denuclearization occurred and nicely covering it up even when the North Korean nuclear crisis has not been completely resolved is, in actuality, phoney denuclearization. Saying that peace has come with incomplete denuclearization in play is a blatant lie. Although it may seem that if we nicely bandage and hide incomplete denuclearization and that the immediately following few years will pass without anything occurring, such a danger, in actuality, is set up to take off at any moment. If we are deceived by phoney denuclearization and false peace, we will render ourselves ill-equipped and unable to stop this cruel reality. Such were the cases with the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 and World War II. If we cannot remove North Korea’s nuclear technology through negotiations, we must establish a balance that suppresses North Korea’s nuclear technology by force. It is realistic to reinforce the U.S.-Korea alliance, maintain pressure with the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea and strengthen the extended deterrence. Maintaining balance of inter-Korean forces is the final safety measure.

The full-scale advancement of inter-Korean political compromise, building military trust and economic cooperation can, in either way, only advance in conjunction with the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis. Inter-Korean exchange cannot be revitalized in conditions in which the North Korean nuclear crisis has not yet been resolved. In the state of military balance collapsing, due to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, even building military trust geared toward conventional military power will be in vain. What will South and North Korea do for unification in such a predicament?

In order for South and North Korea to unify, the most fundamental points that the South and North Korean citizens must espouse are the “identity as one people” and the “will to unify.” These two components are more fundamental to reunification than inter-Korean political trust, the relieving of military tensions, and economic cooperation. These are also things that can be done even in the state of North Korea’s nuclear crisis being unresolved. Along with prolonging division and changes among generations, this crisis is appearing more among the citizenry in the form of weakening consciousness as a single people and a diminishing will to unite. A tendency to be content with reality and preferring to maintain the current state of division is on the rise. Unification will not be achieved if the majority of our people come to think this way.

South and North Korean citizens maintaining their ethnic identity as a single people became the most vital task of unification policies. Although South and North Korea are, realistically speaking, two contrasting state systems, they are one people. In order for South and North Korea to truly achieve unification, South and North Korean citizens must have an identity as one people. I originally thought of it as a matter of course for a single people to establish and live in a single nation. However, the unification issue began from this will being broken. Furthermore, impediments such as the suppression of freedom, wavering national security, disadvantages for economic development and inconvenient living followed, due to this division. Because the unification of South and North Korea is the act of South and North Korea restoring a single national community as a single people, the fact that we are one people becomes the basis for unification.

Although the German ethnic state was split at the time of division into East and West Germany, the Germans continued to maintain their status as a people. Based on the perspective that this must continue going forward, East and West German citizens made efforts to go on to develop and maintain their common sense of belonging as a single people, rooted in their shared history, culture, and language. This became the driving force that enabled Germany to unite upon entering the post-Cold War era.

South and North Korea, as a single people, must also head towards unification, make widespread advances of exchange that contribute to contact, communication, and restoration of homogeneity between South and North Korean citizens and maintain their ethnic identity. The meeting and exchange of separated family members and relatives is a crucial process in ingraining into Korea, and other countries, that South and North Korea are one people. By going on to revitalize nongovernmental humanitarian support, expand the scope of contact, and autonomously advance issues regarding ethnic language, ethnic culture, history, land and environmental preservation, as well as athletic events and religious exchange, this interchange will reinforce their identity as a single people.

South and North Korean citizens must share a joint awareness to maintain their single ethnic identity. For this, we must strengthen communications and the exchange of information. The opening and exchange of media publications, open broadcast and mutual participation in broadcasts will enable us to maintain the unity of language between South and North Korea. This will also contribute towards reducing the quantitative and qualitative gap of knowledge and information between South and North Korean citizens, while maintaining culturing homogeneity and ethnic identity. Furthering mutual cultural exchange and communication of information through various means will become the ultimate basis for unification.



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