The inter-Korean summit is just a week away. Following that, a summit between North Korea and the United States will be held. Even though media organizations keep abreast of international affairs more than anyone else, only a very few of you might have predicted what is now transpiring. It can surely be said to be a dramatic change. By means of the inter-Korean summit, we must create a solid milestone that will make it possible to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, build a lasting peace regime and pave the way for the sustainable development of inter-Korean relations. It should also serve as a guide to steer the success of the North Korea-U.S. summit. It is imperative to end the 65-year-long armistice and move forward to the conclusion of a peace treaty through the declaration of the end of the Korean War. Ahead of this crucial national event to determine the future of the Korean Peninsula, I have invited the chief executives of the media organizations, the opinion leaders of the Republic of Korea, to Cheong Wa Dae to ask for your helpful advice.
Looking back, only a few months ago, military tension on the Korean Peninsula escalated to an extreme, casting a glimmering shadow of war. Most media outlets at home and abroad forecast that North Korea would never give up its nuclear weapons and intended to challenge the United States by being recognized as a nuclear weapons state.
Even after inter-Korean talks resumed on the occasion of the North`s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, some voiced concern over a possible crisis in April following the close of the Olympics—that inter-Korean relations would go into a tailspin again if the ROK-U.S. joint military exercises began—thus stoking public anxiety. Things might have proceeded that way. Instead of letting the evolving developments dictate our fate, however, we have remained committed to setting an ideal stage on our own initiative and made necessary efforts, making it possible to turn things around.
When I unveiled a peace initiative in Berlin in July last year, many people said it was a pipe dream. However, the dream is now inching toward reality. Audacious imagination and strategies helped turn the tide, paving the way for the current situation.
Now, North Korea is expressing to the international community its willingness for complete denuclearization. It is also showing us a strong commitment to having a dialogue. With a shared firm determination to engage in dialogue, the United States and North Korea are preparing for their summit and are now showing their sincerity in creating a favorable atmosphere for its success.
Up until now, the Republic of Korea and the United States have shared related information, engaged in consultations and coordinated in an impeccable manner. As I have repeatedly mentioned before, President Trump`s unconditional support and words of encouragement for dialogue premised on denuclearization played a decisive role in pulling off a dramatic turnaround.
However, realistically speaking, we are now only crossing a threshold to a dialogue. It is too early to promise success. Moreover, we can only talk about success when not only the inter-Korean summit but also the first-ever summit between North Korea and the United States succeed. Bold imagination and creative solutions are needed to turn the two summits into a success rather than repeating past failures.
The Korean media have played many roles in improving inter-Korean relations so far. It was the media that started inter-Korean exchanges even before the Government. A series of visits to the North and inter-Korean exchanges by many media outlets and their pioneering efforts in the late 1990s, including the serial reports on field trips to cultural heritage sites in the North, led to the historic June 15 South-North Joint Declaration. In August 2000, after the Joint Declaration, a delegation of CEOs of 46 media outlets visited the North and announced a joint agreement with the North Korean side. However, it is today’s reality that it was completely forgotten to the extent that we even question if it had actually happened. You, especially, must feel surprised by that. I believe when the media unify public opinion, as in the past, and become a guiding light for peace on the Korean Peninsula, it will hasten not only the success of the two summits but also the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the settlement of permanent peace.