Congratulatory Speech at the second policy seminar hosted by the East
Asian Railway Community Forum
14:30 on August 21, 2019 at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry
By Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul
It is good to see you all. I am Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul.
I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to you on holding
the second policy seminar of the East Asian Railway Community Forum.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to Oh Young-sik and Kim
Se-ho, co-presidents of the forum, for hosting the second seminar
following the first one held in June on the occasion of the event
marking the establishment of the forum.
My special thanks go to Chairperson Park Soon-ja of the National
Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Committee, National
Assembly members Yoon Hu-duk and Park Jung, CEO Kim Sang-gyun of the
Korea Rail Network Authority, President Oh Jae-hak of the Korea
Transport Institute, President Yang Chang-ho of the Korea Maritime
Institute, and other distinguished guests for taking time out of their
busy schedules to grace the event with their presence.
Today, the presentations and discussions address “Issues and Tasks
of the Modernization of Railways in North Korea.”
Since top experts are joining us today, I expect that the
discussions will delve deeply into the issues.
As you are well aware, South
and North Korea agreed to connect and modernize the railways of the
Donghae Line and the Gyeongui Line in the Panmunjeom Declaration on
April 27 last year.
The re-linking of the severed railways is certainly key to realizing
the peaceful co-existence and common prosperity of the two Koreas, and
efforts and actions followed to fulfill the agreements.
Last December, South and North Korean researchers conducted a joint
survey of all 1,200km of railroads in the North while living together
on the train for 16 days.
Then, the two Koreas held a groundbreaking ceremony at Panmun
Station in Gaeseong.
This year, however, because of the slowness in progress in
denuclearization and the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, both
inter-Korean exchange and cooperation in railways have stalled.
Even so, regardless of how much time it may take, we will eventually
see the railroads connected and the people someday begin to come and
go by railway.
As President Moon Jae-in emphasized in his Liberation Day speech, an
“era of the peace economy on the Korean Peninsula” in which peace
leads to prosperity and most of the people experience the benefits of
peace in their daily lives will dawn upon us.
The geopolitical position of the Korean Peninsula was never
favorable to Korea because it was surrounded by strong nations, but it
will become a new strong point in that it can connect the continent
and the ocean.
Inter-Korean cooperation in railways will play a pivotal role in the process.
A trans-Korea railroad will serve as a lifeline by which people and
logistics come and go. It will increase the scope of the Korean
economy and provide neighboring countries in Eurasia and the Pacific
with a win-win opportunity to prosper together.
The East Asian Railway Community proposed by President Moon will
serve as the foundation for multilateral cooperation and security in
I ask the East Asian Railway Community Forum to take part in the
journey toward the new era of the peace economy by railway on the
Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We stand at a turning point
toward common prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
We have a long way to go and many tasks to tackle. However, these
are our historical mission for our future and our posterity.
With patience, the government will strive to connect railways
between the South and the North and to realize the East Asian Railway
Community I expect that North Korea will see that the ROK government
is entirely sincere and join the efforts to change the destiny of the
I believe that the East Asian Railway Community Forum and all of you
joining us today will share your thoughts and wisdom. I wish the
seminar a great success.