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Speeches and Contributions

Congratulatory Remarks at the academic conference celebrating the 18th anniversary of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit


Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,

It is good to see you all today. I am Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to you on holding an academic conference celebrating the 18th anniversary of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit.

I would like to express my gratitude to Jeong Se-hyun, director of the Korea Peace Forum, National Assembly Member Park Ji-won, and Park Myeong-rim, director of the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library & Museum, for organizing this conference; former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won for giving a congratulatory speech; and all the other participants for taking time to join us today.

My special thanks go to Ira Helfand, co-chair of PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee, Lisa Clark, president of the International Peace Bureau, and Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, for coming all the way here for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world.

Eighteen years ago today, the leaders of South and North Korea signed the historic June 15 Joint Declaration. As we now begin a new journey toward peace on the Korean Peninsula with the two recent inter-Korean summits and the first-ever North Korea-US summit, we can celebrate today with much greater hope than ever before.

The indomitable spirit and all-out efforts of former President Kim Dae-jung, and the long-time dedication of those who have carried on the former President’s commitment, are shining on the Korean Peninsula today. I am very pleased and honored to be here with you today celebrating this meaningful event.

Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,

The truly historical, globally significant transition we are experiencing began with the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit.

The June 15 Inter-Korea Summit, held 55 years after the division of the Korean Peninsula, opened an era of reconciliation and cooperation. At that time, our efforts led to improvement in relations between North Korea and the US.

It has been a long time since then, and there have been many ups and downs along the way. We experienced great strain and severance of relations and moments of crisis even as we pledged to pursue reconciliation and cooperation, and peace and prosperity. The winter of inter-Korean relations was long and tough.

However, we never gave up even in the darkest moments in the belief that spring would eventually come.

Just like the “honey****le” that former President Kim loved, we strived to endure the harshest of winters and to make the flower of peace come into full blossom.

South and North Korea were able to greet a new spring thanks to the full support of all the Korean people including those of you here today.

As apparent in the two inter-Korean summits this year, the leaders of South and North Korea can meet and deal with inter-Korean issues at any time as necessary.

South and North Korea are implementing the Panmunjeom Declaration in earnest through high-level talks and follow-up talks.

Inter-Korean military talks between generals are being held at Panmunjeom today for the first time in 11 years, and sports and Red Cross talks will soon to be held. The preparations for establishing a joint liaison office are underway.

Restoration of inter-Korean relations catalyzed the improvement in relations between North Korea and the US. Two days ago, the leaders of North Korea and the US ended the last cold war on the planet and achieved a historic milestone toward permanent peace at “the meeting of the century.”

Pyeongyang and Washington agreed to rise above 70 years of hostility, establish a new bilateral relationship, and work together to build peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and in response, US President Donald Trump promised to guarantee the security of the North. Both sides also agreed to implement the agreements and engage in follow-up discussions as soon as possible.

Ending the longest war in the world and realizing a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia was former President Kim Dae-jung’s most cherished dream, as well as our own. We are now taking an enormous step toward realizing that dream.

Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen,

Now is the time to put the agreements into action and make the dream reality.

It will be a long journey. Since the changes are things that we all previously thought were unimaginable, there will certainly be challenges and difficulties.

However, just as the leaders of South and North Korea, and North Korea and the US pulled their minds together, we will shape a future of common prosperity while overcoming all challenges through cooperation, instead of confrontation.

In the belief that this may be the last opportunity to establish lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, we will put all our hearts and souls into this critical endeavor while never losing sight of our original intention.

The government will achieve sustainable development in inter-Korean relations while smoothly carrying out the Panmunjeom Declaration.

At the same time, the government will seek to reinforce the virtuous cycle in which improvement in inter-Korean relations promotes denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula and progress in North Korea-US relations while progress in denuclearization and improvement in North Korea-US relations further advance inter-Korean relations to the next level.

It will do its best to ensure smooth and swift denuclearization and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula while closely communicating and actively cooperating with all involved countries including North Korea and the US.

As always, the people can greatly facilitate the process by lending their full support and participation. The government will further strive to work with the people in the process of developing inter-Korean relations.

I ask all of you here today to channel the yearnings of the people and help communicate and cooperate with the international community.

In closing, I would like to ask you to gather all your wisdom to lighten the
path of peace at the conference, and I wish you all the best of health and happiness.

Thank you.