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Speeches and Contributions

Congratulatory Speech at the “Peace Trails and Peace Zone” academic conference (May 24)


Congratulatory Speech at the “Peace Trails and Peace Zone” academic conference (May 24)

I would like to extend my congratulations to you on holding the academic conference “Peace Trails and Peace Zone: Berlin Wall and DMZ.” I would like to express my appreciation to President Lee Myeon-jae of Daejin University, the experts who will make presentations and engage in discussions, and all others for participating in the conference. I also extend my sincere gratitude to all those from the DMZ Institute at Daejin University, the Kangwon Institute of Unification Studies at Kangwon National University, the Institute of Global Politics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and the Korean Association of Unification and Border Areas Studies for arranging this meaningful event.

As you are all well aware, the demilitarized zone (DMZ), unlike its original meaning, had long been the most fortified border in the entire world: massive forces of the South and the North faced off against each other there for decades. Thankfully, inter-Korean relations were restored last year and a new peace has begun to emerge on the Korean Peninsula.

Thus, the DMZ has been reborn as a “truly demilitarized zone.” South and North Korea shared the view in the Panmunjeom Declaration that the DMZ should be transformed into a true peace zone and then agreed on specific action plans in the Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain. The two Koreas have since withdrawn some of the guard posts on a trial basis and demilitarized the Joint Security Area in Panmunjeom. Both sides are working on the preparations to recover the remains of Korean war dead within the DMZ. The DMZ, a symbol of division and confrontation for 70 years, is becoming a symbol of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The government is striving to return the DMZ to the people. The DMZ Peace Trails have been created in Paju, Cheorwon, and Goseong, Gangwon Province. The Goseong Trail affording a magnificent view of Mount Geumgang and the Haegeum River was open to the public last month, and the Cheorwon Trail where numerous scars left by the Korean war can still be seen, including the Baekmagoji (White Horse Hill) Battlefield and areas where the remains of Korean war dead were uncovered on Hwasalmeorigoji (Arrowhead Hill), will be opened to the public on June 1. The government will cooperate with the local governments in border areas and further develop the DMZ areas into a center of peace where history, ecology, and culture come together.

After Germany’s unification, the Iron Curtain that once divided East and West Germany was transformed into a long green belt called the “Grünes Band,” setting an example of ecological preservation and sustainable tourism. The DMZ areas have great potential to make all the people on the Korean Peninsula happier while preserving nature through the creation of a peace park, excavation of Cheorwon Castle from the Taebong Kingdom, and hosting an international peace organization.

I expect that you will engage in in-depth discussions on all of these matters.

Thank you.