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Speeches and Contributions

Congratulatory Speech at the opening ceremony for a special exhibition at the Korea National Maritime Museum


Congratulatory Speech at the opening ceremony for a special exhibition at the Korea National Maritime Museum
- The Forgotten Other Seas, the Seas of North Korea -

Good morning.

It is good to see you all. I am Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.
I would like to extend my congratulations to you on opening the special exhibition “The Forgotten Other Seas, the Seas of North Korea.”

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Director General Joo Kang-hyun of the Korea National Maritime Museum and all others involved in arranging this meaningful event for their hard work.

My appreciation also goes to National Assembly members Kim Han-jung, Kim Young-choon, and Oh Young-hun, Minister Moon Seong-hyeok of Ocean and Fisheries, the heads of government agencies, and the distinguished guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to be here with us today.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The Republic of Korea surrounded on three sides by water is a maritime country. The seas have always been part of the country’s lifeblood.

It is over the seas that we have expanded economically throughout the world. Even now, 99.8 percent of our total trade is by sea.

The seas will also remain our hope for the future.

However, we only enjoy half of our seas due to national division.

There was a time when South and North Korea cooperated to have a single, wider sea.

With the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation going into effect in 2005, vessels from the two Koreas navigated in each other’s waters and active discussions on more cooperation in maritime and fisheries were pursued between South and North Korea. However, such efforts did not lead to sustained action.

A series of factors driving us toward peace on the Korean Peninsula emerged last year, affording us another tremendous opportunity.

South and North Korea did not miss this opportunity and agreed to create a maritime peace zone and a pilot joint fishing area on the West Sea through the April 27 Panmunjeom Declaration and the Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain.

The two Koreas conducted a joint survey of waterways in the Han River estuary toward the West Sea and shared a marine chart.

Now is the time for us to work out a specific follow-up implementation plan and discuss means of practical cooperation.

If we make good use of this opportunity and reconnect the seas of South and North Korea, the destiny of the Korean Peninsula will change dramatically.

The Korean Peninsula will become a bridge connecting the large continent of Eurasia on the north side with the vast ocean leading to the ASEAN countries and India on the south side.

Our dreams of becoming a strong maritime country that confidently steps out into the world and of becoming a logistics hub in Northeast Asia that connects countries by land, sea, and air will become reality soon.

This is the reason that this exhibition on “the Seas of North Korea” is so significant.

I hope that this exhibition encourages the people to think and realize again that the seas of North Korea, the “forgotten seas” in the memories of most of the people, are “other seas” much closer at hand than we think.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you involved in assembling the far-flung materials for this exhibition, and I expect that the exhibition will be a great success.