By Kim Young Deok and Yoon Sojung
President Moon Jae-in on May 9 urged the leaders of North Korea and the U.S. to immediately hold a face-to-face meeting to resolve issues involving the North.
The president was speaking in a one-on-one interview on state-run KBS TV in the program "Special Talk with President Moon Jae-in Marking Two Years in Office" to mark the second anniversary of his inauguration. The 90-minute interview, his first exclusively with a Korean media outlet, was broadcast live from the Cheong Wa Dae meeting room Sangchunjae from 8:30 p.m.
On his impressions of the first two years of his term, President Moon said, "The people achieved a transition of power through demonstrating in the Candlelight Revolution in a mature way and selected me as president," expressing his appreciation to the nation.
"The Republic of Korea has been moving forward in a fair and just manner," he added. "I’m not sure if I've met all expectations but we have seen many achievements."
"However, I do feel that there is much to be desired and also many tasks to make up for," he said, expressing his intent to build "a country where all citizens wish to live."
The interview began with questions on the projectiles North Korea shot earlier that day. President Moon responded by saying they were believed to be short-range missiles but that the latest firing did not violate the inter-Korean military agreement reached on Sept. 19 last year, since the drill took place outside the Demilitarized Zone and the Military Demarcation Line.
The president, however, did warn Pyeongyang by saying, "If North Korea continues such behavior, it will make the ongoing effort toward dialogue and negotiation more difficult."
President Moon also presented his idea of achieving the goal of denuclearization. Both the North and the U.S. should hold talks as soon as possible, he said, since this is the only method that will produce the ultimate resolution to all the issues. In this regard, he said Seoul is marking all-out efforts to resume dialogue between Pyeongyang and Washington.
President Moon also spoke of the private conversation he had with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their inter-Korean summit held on April 27 last year.
"Chairman Kim clearly expressed his commitment to denuclearization in an extremely honest manner," the president said, recalling their talks on the foot bridge in the South Korean section of the United Nations truce village of Panmunjeom.
President Moon said Kim also asked him for advice on how to prepare for the first bilateral summit between the North and the U.S.
At the end of the show, the KBS interviewer asked the president about stalled bilateral relations with Japan over history issues, and he responded by saying, "Through the accession of Emperor Naruhito, I hope that Korea-Japan relations develop further."
"I consider Korea-Japan relations extremely important and hope that they can develop in a future-looking manner."