Congratulatory Speech at an academic conference marking the 19th
anniversary of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit
10:00 on June 13, 2019 at the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library and
Museum of Yonsei University
By Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul
It’s good to see you all. I am
Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.
First of all, I keep in mind
the last words of former First Lady Lee Hee-ho. She said that she
would pray for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula even
I believe that she makes today’s conference marking the 19th
anniversary of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit even much more meaningful.
I would like to express my gratitude to Park Jie-won of the Party
for Democracy and Peace, Director Park Myeong-rim of the Kim Dae-Jung
Presidential Library and Museum, and Director Jeong Se-hyun of the
Korea Peace Forum for organizing this conference.
I would also like to extend my appreciation to former Unification
Minister Lim Dong-won for giving the keynote speech and all the other
participants for hosting this event, making presentations, and
engaging in discussions today.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a condolence card and flowers yesterday.
Both South and North Korea remember Mrs. Lee for her dedication. She
fulfilled her duties at every important moment in inter-Korean
relations including the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit.
I believe that she will always be with us on the path toward peace
on the Korean Peninsula even in heaven.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
June 15 Inter-Korean Summit was an epochal moment in inter-Korean relations.
The June 15 Inter-Korean Summit in 2000 was the first such meeting
since national division, and it was a truly historical event in itself.
Before that, a meeting of the leaders of South and North Korea was
only possible in our imagination. However, former President Kim
Dae-jung’s determination and passion to improve inter-Korean relations
translated the imagination into realty.
The June 15 South-North Joint Declaration, the outcome of the first
inter-Korean summit, was an important milestone that has greatly
advanced inter-Korean relations.
The South and the North agreed to recognize and respect each other’s
system and strive for common prosperity. Both sides shared the view
that unification is a process that the two Koreas should carry out
gradually, step by step.
Of course, there were many significant agreements between the South
and the North before that, but the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit
imparted momentum for inter-Korean relations to transform from “an era
of agreement” to “an era of practice.”
The success of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit also led to the
DPRK-US Joint Communique and then-US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright’s visit to the North.
The year 2000 saw the triangular relationship between South and
North Korea and the US enter a “perfect virtuous cycle” in the history
of the Korean Peninsula.
We found new hope that if the South and the North, the parties
directly involved in the matter of the Korean Peninsula, could become
united, the two Koreas could resolve their mutual hostilities and
bring down the barriers of confrontation, which were left by national
division and the Cold War, and could explore the future of Korea at
their own initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that it was the
historic first inter-Korean summit and the June 15 South-North Joint
Declaration of 19 years ago that made possible last year’s three
inter-Korean summit meetings and their outcomes the Panmunjeom –
Declaration and the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration.
It was the experience of the virtuous cycle of inter-Korean and
North Korea-US relations in 2000 that led inter-Korean dialogue to
progress in North Korea-US relations and then to the two rounds of the
North Korea-US summit for the first time in history.
However, there is still a long way to go. After a spate of
development in relations, South and North Korea and the US are now
catching their breath again and preparing for resumption of negotiations.
The choice we make now will determine our future and the future of
At a time like this, I believe that we need to find a lesson in history.
The government will keep in mind the spirit of the June 15
South-North Joint Declaration – mutual respect and trust, peace, and
reciprocity; unwaveringly implement the inter-Korean joint
declarations; and never relent on the journey toward peace on the
Korean Peninsula. To this end, the meetings between the leaders of the
two Koreas should continue.
The government is rendering humanitarian aid to the North in the
spirit of humanitarianism and brotherhood. It recently rendered the
funds to international organizations that help those in need in the
North including infants and pregnant women. It is considering food aid
to the North as well.
It will push ahead with video reunions and the renovation of a
reunion center as its top priorities to ease even the slightest bit of
the pain and sorrow of the separated families.
As President Moon Jae-in said in his speech in Oslo, the two Koreas
constitute a “community of life” that must live together.
The government will work closely together with the North in order to
ensure swift joint response to wildfires and damage from insects and
infectious diseases that can occur in the border areas.
Genuine peace is the one thing that helps both sides. Thus, the
government will do its best to ensure that peace on the Korean
Peninsula materially benefits the people in their daily lives.
It will make sure that fishermen in the West Sea and residents in
the border areas of Paju, Cheorwon, and Goseong can experience peace
every day. We will know that peace is sustainable when people can
freely come and go and their lives change for the better.
We need to execute the denuclearization and peace process in earnest
through the virtuous cycle of inter-Korean, North Korea-US, and ROK-US relations.
Through these efforts, the government will completely restore
inter-Korean relations and open the era of the “peace economy” on the
Korean Peninsula next year, which marks the 20th anniversary of the
June 15 Inter-Korean Summit. At long last, the people will be able to
experience peace in their daily lives and peace will drive economic development.
I hope that this conference causes us all to ever afterwards recall
the historic lessons of the June 15 Inter-Korean Summit, to explore
its implications that we may break the current impasse in inter-Korean
relations, and to find the power of collective intelligence.