Distinguished people of Singapore, ladies and gentlemen,
The North Korea-United States summit illuminated the path toward peace. More than anything else, I am grateful to the people and the Government of Singapore for supporting the successful hosting of that historic summit.
Singapore is the world leader in Asian studies, and through this, it is promoting the value of Asia to the world. I feel a sense of extraordinary friendship toward the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies that invited me to its Singapore Lecture.
I met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Manila, Philippines last year. We promised to make a visit to each other’s country at the earliest possible date. I am very pleased that this much-anticipated meeting has finally taken place.
Distinguished people of Singapore,
Singapore is synonymous with peace. We cannot talk about Singapore without mentioning peace. Singapore, which originated from a small fishing town, has become prosperous while striving for peace.
During the period of hostilities fueled by the Cold War and Konfrontasi, Singapore initiated the creation of ASEAN and led regional dialogue. Upholding the value of an ASEAN-first policy, the country has greatly contributed to expanding ASEAN’s boundary through the ASEAN Plus Three Summit and the East Asia Summit.
ASEAN lies behind the reason Southeast Asia could maintain peace. It carved out a third way for regional cooperation and helped preserve the stability of the region. Among its members, Singapore was at the forefront of pursuing peace. Southeast Asia is known as the most culturally diverse region in the world. Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Socialism coexist here harmoniously. As such, ASEAN has exemplified the possibility of diverse civilizations coexisting peacefully.
Now, the peace that Singapore and ASEAN have jointly accomplished is capturing the world’s attention. If the 21st century can be dubbed the Century of Peace and Coexistence, we might also call it the Century of ASEAN. I see Singapore at its center.
Korea craves peace more than anyone else. No country is more desperately in need of peace than Korea. It lost everything to war and has always been haunted by the threat of another war while enduring considerable pain. As the son of war refugees, I understand well how important peace is. My parents escaped empty-handed aboard an evacuation vessel, leaving behind their home and livelihood.
Singapore’s consistent endeavors for peace helped make this place the venue of the North Korea-U.S. summit. The success of that summit can be ascribed to the support of the Singaporean people who have worked hard to achieve peace.
I pay respect to the peace efforts of ASEAN and Singapore, and I suggest that we all march together toward greater prosperity through peace.
People of Singapore and distinguished guests,
To Korea, ASEAN is a partner for working together to create a community of peace. It is a trading partner and investment destination aiming to achieve economic growth together. We are now evolving into a family-like relationship beyond that of neighbors.
I have recognized the importance of ASEAN and have striven to usher in a new future alongside it.
Immediately after I took office in May last year, I sent a special envoy to ASEAN, the first time in Korean history, to promote closer ties with ASEAN. In the following September, the ASEAN Culture House was established in Busan, my hometown. It was the first of its kind to open in one of ASEAN’s dialogue partners. In November of the same year, I visited Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines to declare the New Southern Policy.
In March this year, I made another visit to Vietnam, and President Tran Dai Quang and I reached an agreement to step up substantive cooperation to promote regional peace and mutual prosperity. Just before I came here, Indian Prime Minister Modi and I promised more in-depth coordination and forward-looking cooperation in multilateral consultative forums in the region.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975, Singapore and Korea have worked together for common goals - a free and open economy as well as regional peace and stability.
Both our countries have overcome a myriad of challenges since gaining independence from colonial rule. Even though both lacked natural resources, we placed our faith in human resources and nurtured talent. Empowered by our people, we achieved astounding economic growth, dubbed “the Miracle on the Equator” here and “the Miracle on the Han River” back in Korea.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and I agreed to concrete measures to lift Singapore-Korea ties a notch higher. Exchanges to nurture talent will be expanded. There will be economic cooperation to give tangible benefits to the people. Korean businesses have already actively participated in constructing major landmarks in Singapore. Going forward, bilateral cooperation will intensify to jointly prepare for the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and bring peace and prosperity to the region.
ASEAN and Korea are maintaining complementary, mutually beneficial relations. We are ideal partners for carving out a future marked by peace and shared prosperity. I am now actively pursuing the New Southern Policy, a strategic vision to upgrade our ties with ASEAN to the same level shared with the four nations whose interests have traditionally converged on the Korean Peninsula, namely the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
The New Southern Policy aims at building a future partnership for people, prosperity and peace in cooperation with Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. More specifically, it seeks to foster an increasing amount of contact among the people in the region and further opportunities for coexistence and prosperity through substantive cooperation. In this way, we can contribute to the promotion of peace in the world, going beyond the Korean Peninsula and ASEAN.
As the Chair of ASEAN this year, Singapore is playing a leading role in advancing peace and prosperity in the region and is also a key partner in Korea's New Southern Policy. I look forward to deepening Korea-ASEAN ties through enhanced cooperation with the active help of Singapore.
Distinguished people of Singapore,
Singapore is a counterweight in Asia as well as a melting pot of Eastern and Western civilizations. Though small, it is an open and embracing nation. A Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, Christian church, Islamic mosque and Taoist temple can exist harmoniously on the same street, a street filled with employees from among 9,000 multinational businesses located here. Singapore is unparalleled in terms of multiethnic and multicultural unity and harmony.
Above all, I cannot help paying tribute to the fact that the country is ideologically unbiased and is not easily swayed; on the contrary, it helps create new ideologies. A meritocracy that prioritizes pragmatism, its integrity is unmatched in the world. In addition, the judicial system operates in the most impartial manner. These elements are likely the very sources of Singapore’s might that helped achieve unity and harmony.
Korea has long been plagued by ideological confrontations. The division into South and North Korea allowed people to condone ideology-driven corruption, privileges and injustice, which ended up consuming much of the nation's capabilities. Given this, we feel more envious of Singapore today.
However, Korea is now striving to create a fair and just country. In the process, I see many lessons we can learn from Singapore. I also believe that the ability of Singaporeans to boldly imagine and put creative thoughts into practice derives from their emphasis on ability, pragmatism, integrity and impartiality.
Based on such strength, the country now handles more than one seventh of the world’s transshipments and operates the second busiest harbor in terms of container volume. The Smart Nation Project, Singapore's next generation national vision, aims to get ahead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Self-driving taxis are but one example of this innovative project. Singapore is setting its sights on protecting the environment and improving the quality of life through its excellent public transportation system. This goal will help change the mindset of those who prefer to drive their own cars.
Singapore is now showing the world new paths through innovative economic and social policies. Singapore's endeavors to take up challenges convince me of the fact that the Asian era is now dawning.
I will rebuild Korea into a nation that can put bold thoughts into practice. Korea has a unique opportunity which cannot be found in Singapore or anywhere else. That opportunity is inter-Korean economic cooperation.
The inter-Korean summits are the beginning. As of last year, the world still regarded such meetings as a mere dream. Building on complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea will draw up a new economic map. Both Koreas will press on toward an economic community. We will create a new Korean Peninsula where anyone can bring out their best in a fair manner and where prosperity flourishes on the basis of peace.
If peace is achieved on the Korean Peninsula, it will help Asia, including Singapore and ASEAN, emerge as the most prosperous region in the world. It will become a source of hope brightening the future of humanity.
Distinguished citizens of Singapore,
The leaders of the United States and North Korea and I have changed the course of history through the Panmunjeom Declaration between the two Koreas and the Joint Statement from the North Korea-U.S. summit. We have begun confident steps toward complete denuclearization and the settlement of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
President Donald Trump and I have shared a common understanding that we will address the North Korean nuclear issue on the strength of the solid ROK-U.S. alliance. In line with this common understanding, the United States and Korea have worked together in the whole process of a historic transition that includes the North's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, reciprocal visits by special envoys from both Koreas, inter-Korean summits and the North Korea-U.S. summit. The cooperation between our two countries will continue going forward.
I have also established a relationship marked by close communication and cooperation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the sake of the common goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The normalization of inter-Korean relations will eventually normalize North Korea-U.S. relations and, then, North Korea-Japan relations. The normalization of North Korea-Japan relations will greatly contribute to establishing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. To this end, I will make every effort to cooperate with Japan.
At the trilateral summit among Korea, Japan and China held in Japan in May, the leaders of Japan and China congratulated me on the success of the inter-Korean summit and expressed active support for the faithful implementation of the Panmunjeom Declaration.
Last December, I had in-depth discussions on the issues regarding the Korean Peninsula with Chinese President Xi Jinping during my visit to Beijing. We confirmed a joint stance on close cooperation to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and negotiation.
At the bilateral summit in Russia last month, I agreed with President Vladimir Putin to prepare for trilateral cooperation among the two Koreas and Russia. We also concurred on the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation so that people on the Korean Peninsula and in Eurasia can enjoy peace and prosperity together.
I have met Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea twice so far. Chairman Kim showed strong determination to develop North Korea into a normal nation by breaking away from ideological confrontation. If Chairman Kim keeps the promise of denuclearization, he will be able to lead his country into prosperity.
This path is never easy, but if the agreements at the summit are implemented with sincerity, the goal can be achieved. If North Korea gives more substance on the implementation of denuclearization, and if South Korea and the United States quickly take comprehensive corresponding measures, the whole process will accelerate.
Our Government will make efforts to ensure that peace is established as soon as possible and economic cooperation will start. Continuous efforts will be made together with the international community so that the Panmunjeom Declaration and the Sentosa Agreement between North Korea and the United States will be recorded as the ones that ended the world’s last Cold War rivalry.
People of Singapore and distinguished guests from home and abroad,
I am looking forward to Singapore and ASEAN retaining their constructive roles. ASEAN and Korea have had a common understanding so far to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue for regional peace and stability and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In particular, ASEAN has arranged a venue for dialogue between North Korea and the international community through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) since 2000. The ARF, the only multilateral forum in which the North participates, has become an important window of communication between North Korea and the international community.
In addition, ASEAN has consistently encouraged the North to give up its nuclear and missile development programs and choose the path toward peace and prosperity.
The path for Korea and ASEAN to take part in the journey together toward establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula is not too far. Like the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in February, I hope that the Asian Games to be held in Indonesia next month will become a place for reconciliation that contributes to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It is important to bring North Korea into the framework for promoting various forms of cooperation and exchanges, which has already been established between South Korea and ASEAN.
In the event North Korea carries out measures for denuclearization with sincerity, I hope that the North will be invited to the various consultative bodies run by ASEAN and that bilateral exchanges and cooperation between ASEAN and the North will be strengthened. It is necessary to create opportunities for North Korea to fulfill its role as a responsible member of the international community.
Before international sanctions were ramped up against North Korea over its nuclear development program, ASEAN and the North had formed mutually beneficial relationships for economic cooperation.
In addition, ASEAN supported inter-Korean economic cooperation by allowing goods produced in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex to fall under the same tariff rates applied to South Korean goods covered by the Korea-ASEAN FTA.
When international sanctions against the North are lifted following complete denuclearization by North Korea, the once-vibrant economic cooperation between North Korea and ASEAN will be revived again. This will contribute to the economic development of both North Korea and ASEAN.
The benefits from establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula will not stop there but will also become a point of contact connecting the economies of ASEAN, the two Koreas and Eurasia and create new economic growth engines for countries of the region, including the ASEAN members.
Distinguished citizens of Singapore and distinguished guests from home and abroad,
The unity and harmony achieved by Singapore are the ideologies of humanity in the 21st century. Now as the East and West, the southern and northern hemispheres, and the world meet, Singapore has become an example of a melting pot at these crossroads and is illuminating all of Asia.
I am confident that Singapore will be able to create another miracle, going beyond its achievements of the past 50 years. I believe Singapore will always stand by us in our efforts to achieve the goal of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization while continuing to lead peace and prosperity in the ASEAN region.
Let us open the Asian era by establishing peace in Asia. Let us create hope for humanity through prosperity in Asia.