Honorable President Richard Haass, Chairman Thomas Hubbard, President Josette Sheeran and other distinguished guests, I am delighted to meet you all.
I am grateful to these three leading organizations in international relations for co-hosting and inviting me to this event.
These three institutions serve as a link between the United States, Asia and Korea. In particular, I am always thankful to them for their profound interest in and affection for the issues related to the Korean Peninsula.
It is very meaningful for me to be able to share the outlook on the rapidly changing developments surrounding the Korean Peninsula with the most prominent experts on Asia and Korea and converse with them about peace and prosperity on the Peninsula.
Around this time last year when I attended the United Nations General Assembly for the first time, tensions over the Korean Peninsula reached their peak. North Korea went ahead and carried out its sixth nuclear test, and the U.N. Security Council adopted its toughest-ever sanctions resolution. Dark clouds of war cast a shadow over the Korean Peninsula.
Under such circumstances, I appealed to North Korea and the international community to resolve problems through dialogue. I urged the North to give up its nuclear program and embark on the path toward peace. I asked for the international community’s support and engagement to ensure that the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games would become the Olympics of peace.
However, many people did not believe that it would become reality. To many, it may have sounded like an unrealistic dream.
One year on, something miraculous is taking place on the Korean Peninsula.
The prelude to peace was the PyeongChang Winter Olympics held in February this year. North Korea sent its delegation and athletes to PyeongChang.
On April 27, I had my first summit meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Panmunjeom. We adopted the Panmunjeom Declaration that aims to achieve complete denuclearization and establish a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
In June, the historic U.S.-North Korea Summit took place, for the first time in the history of their 70-year-long hostile relations. This great decision was born from a combination of mutual trust and respect between the leaders of the United States and North Korea. North Korea demonstrated its sincerity by dismantling its nuclear test site, returning the remains of U.S. soldiers and choosing not to display intermediate or long-range missiles during the military parade that marked its Foundation Day on September 9.
Last week, I was in Pyongyang. I had my third inter-Korean summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un and signed the Pyongyang Joint Declaration together with Chairman Kim.
Chairman Kim personally pledged in public that he would make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and threats. He also expressed the hope of completing denuclearization as soon as possible and instead focus on economic development.
North Korea has refrained from nuclear and missile provocations since last November. Under the watchful eyes of the international community, it also dismantled a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.
Last week, in order to speed up the denuclearization process, North Korea made a clear commitment to first permanently dismantle the missile engine test site and launch platform in Dongchang-ri under the observation of experts from the relevant countries.
Moreover, in accordance with the spirit of the U.S-North Summit, North Korea expressed its willingness to take additional denuclearization measures, including the permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, as the United States takes corresponding measures. This means that North Korea will pursue a verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
To expedite the denuclearization process, Chairman Kim is hoping for a visit to North Korea by the U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the second U.S.-North Korea Summit to be held at the earliest possible date.
Actions are being taken to ease tensions and promote exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas as well. Two weeks ago, the Inter-Korean Joint Liaison Office was opened in Gaeseong, North Korea. We now have an official channel that allows year-round, 24-hour communication between the two Koreas.
In August, reunions of separated families were held. Unified teams made up of South and North Korean athletes competed in a number of events in the Jakarta Palembang 2018 Asian Games, as they had also done at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and won a gold medal in one of the competitions for the first time ever at the Asian Games.
The most important accomplishment is the agreement in the military domain included annexed to the Pyongyang Joint Declaration. The two Koreas agreed to a mutual cessation of hostilities on the entire Korean Peninsula. This is akin to a declaration to end the Korean War as it substantially eliminates the danger of war. Efforts will be made to demilitarize the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone and the Joint Security Area and transform them into a symbol of peace. These are important strides towards the realization of a Korean Peninsula free from war.
The declaration to end the Korean War that the two Koreas are pursuing is a step that must be taken if we are to move toward a peace regime. It is also necessary for expediting North Korea's denuclearization measures.
The concerns in some quarters that the end-of-war declaration may affect the status of the United Nations Command or the United States Forces in Korea are simply not true. This declaration is a political statement made on the journey toward a peace treaty and, therefore, the existing armistice will remain in place until such a peace treaty is signed. As for the stationing of the USFK, this is simply a matter for the ROK-U.S. alliance to decide regardless of a declaration to end the Korean War or the signing of a peace treaty. Chairman Kim also agrees with this concept of an end-of-war declaration.
These developments will allow the two Koreas as well as neighboring countries to be freed from the fear of war that gripped them just a year ago. None of this would have been possible without the bold decision made by President Trump and the consistent support of the international community, including China, Japan and Russia.
Yesterday, President Trump and I had candid discussions on all of these matters. We shared the view that a swift implementation of the Sentosa Agreement, Panmunjom Declaration and the Pyongyang Joint Declaration is of paramount importance. President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un trust each other. The denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea that had been stalled will resume in earnest.
South Korea and the United States have responded positively to the actions taken by North Korea. Our two countries stopped large-scale joint military exercises involving the deployment of strategic assets. I expect there will be significant progress in denuclearization if the leaders of North Korea and the United States sit down together again.
Cornerstone for peace on the Korean Peninsula is the ROK-U.S. alliance. Forged in blood, the ROK-U.S. alliance has become stronger and broader over the past 70 years. Had it not been for the alliance, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Republic of Korea to simultaneously achieve both democratization and economic development in just half a century.
Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, where the recently relocated headquarters of the USFK reside, symbolizes the steadfastness of the ROK-U.S. alliance. It is five times the size of Central Park in New York, making it the largest of the U.S. overseas military bases, boasting unmatched facilities. As a joint base for the army, navy and the air force, as well as an operational hub, it has unrivaled operational capabilities. President Trump himself gave it a thumbs up during our joint visit there last year.
Initially forged as a military alliance, the ROK-U.S. alliance has continued to expand, moving beyond an economic alliance toward a global partnership.
The ROK-U.S. FTA has enabled a dramatic expansion in exchanges and economic cooperation between our two countries. As an agreement between the world’s largest and the eleventh largest economy, the FTA is the culmination of a robust alliance and is serving as a catalyst for global free trade. Korea was able to foster greater partnership with the United States, which has the world’s largest pool of capital and technological prowess, while the United States obtained a bridgehead in East Asia.
Yesterday, the two countries signed an amendment to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. With the amendment, I expect the people of our two countries will be able to enjoy gains from mutually beneficial trade.
The United States and Korea will also work together on various issues facing the international community, such as terrorism, violent extremism, environment, health, famine, and refugee crises.
President Trump told me that Korea and the United States are ‘not mere allies, but great allies’.
Freedom and democracy will last forever. Our alliance forged in blood shed in wartime will end the War without fail and lead us to peace and prosperity.
Our alliance is already great. However, I believe that our alliance will become even greater through the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Peace on the Korean Peninsula will not only contribute to regional security but also bring shared prosperity to the Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
When peace is established on the Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization, South and North Korea will pursue economic cooperation in earnest. An inter-Korean economic community will lead to economic cooperation in Northeast Asia.
When an appropriate environment is created, Gaeseong Industrial Complex and Mt. Geumgang Tourism Project can be resumed. There are also plans to develop a West Coast joint special economic zone and an East Coast joint special tourism zone. This will give new growth opportunities for American and Korean companies.
In my National Liberation Day speech on August 15, I proposed the creation of an East Asian Railroad Community, which encompasses six Northeast Asian countries and the United States.
At the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia last year, we also proposed a gigantic Northeast Asian super grid initiative to connect Russia’s Energy Super Ring initiative with the wind power and solar photovoltaic power from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
The East Asian Railroad Community will go beyond the energy and economic communities and become the foundation upon which a multilateral peace and security system will be developed. Peace will guide the economy, and in return, economic prosperity will further promote and protect the peace.
The participation of the United States in these endeavors will accelerate the development of the Northeast Asian region and become a great driving force behind the stabilization of the region. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the active participation of the United States.
Distinguished guests and esteemed experts in international relations,
The people in South and North Korea are no strangers to each other. We had lived together for five thousand years, and we share the same bloodline, history, language and culture. We are like siblings separated temporarily.
We suffered through war and ideological conflict, but we have never forgotten that we are one. We aspire for a peaceful Korean Peninsula free from the threat of war.
The fervent desire of the 80 million Koreans and support from the international community are creating the miracle of peace on the Korean Peninsula today.
Together with President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un, I will take bold steps toward a new future with a vision of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
I have ascertained the sincere determination and unwavering trust of President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un on numerous occasions. I am confident that we will accomplish this feat together, without fail.
I ask for your generous support and encouragement on the way toward peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and a new future.