Congratulatory Speech at the opening ceremony of the Gyeongnam
Research Center for Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation
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
Gyeongnam Research Center for Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation,
and I am very pleased to be here with you at this significant place today.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to Governor of South
Gyeongsang Province Kim Kyoung-soo, Director Hong Jae-woo of the
Gyeongnam Institute, and Hwang Gyo-wook, the first director of the
Research Center for Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation involved in
opening the center for their hard work.
My appreciation also goes to Chairperson Kim Ji-soo of the
Gyeongsangnam-do Provincial Council and the distinguished guests for
taking time out of their busy schedules to grace the event with their presence.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Moon Jae-in administration’s policy on North Korea pursues
The local governments as well as the central government are the main
agents of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.
In particular, the government of South Gyeongsang Province
(Gyeongnam) in the southernmost area of the Korean Peninsula has been
leading inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.
The “Gyeongnam unification strawberry,” a trademark registered at
the Korean Intellectual Property Office, is Gyeongnam’s unique model
of win-win cooperation between South and North Korea.
The project for building an elementary school for North Korean
students in Pyeongyang, which was supported by donations from 200,000
Gyeongnam residents in 2007, not only remarkably improved education
for North Korean students but presented a new cooperation model:
inter-Korean exchange by resident participation.
With inter-Korean exchange and cooperation resuming last year after
a decade hiatus, Gyeongnam sent flour and soybean oil to North Korea
for humanitarian purposes.
In addition, last year, a North Korean team of 22 athletes
participated in the World Shooting Championships in Changwon, South
Gyeongsang Province, communicating to the world messages of
inter-Korean harmony and peace.
Local governments will assume greater roles as inter-Korean
relations expand into more areas and inter-Korean exchange and
cooperation becomes more active. They have some major advantages
relative to the central government.
I expect that the Gyeongnam Research Center for Inter-Korean
Exchange and Cooperation launched for the first time in provincial
governments will take the lead in opening an era of local
government-led inter-Korean exchange and cooperation in earnest.
I hope that the research center makes the most of the
characteristics and advantages of Gyeongnam and actively explores
sustainable projects that will benefit both Koreas.
While respecting the autonomy of local governments including
Gyeongnam, the central government will be fully supportive for their
active exchange and cooperation with the North.
I expect to see more cooperation between the Ministry of Unification
and Gyeongnam on the occasion of the opening of the Research Center
for Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation.
In the following seminar, the participants will explore
the possibilities for a practical strategy for “Gyeongnam-style
inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.”
Since the experts knowledgeable in theory and experienced in their
fields will be making presentations and engaging in discussions today,
I expect that they will indeed be able to offer constructive proposals.
Once again, I congratulate you on opening the Gyeongnam Research
Center for Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation, and I wish the
research center a tremendous success. I also wish all of you the best