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Speeches and Contributions

Congratulatory Speech at the second policy seminar hosted by the East Asian Railway Community Forum


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

Congratulatory Speech
By Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul

Good afternoon.

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.

Distinguished guests,
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 the region.

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 Korean Peninsula.

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.

Thank you.