Park vows to expand aid to N.K., economic cooperation

By 신용배
  • Published : Mar 28, 2014 - 19:06
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2014 - 19:36

    President Park Geun-hye on Friday pledged to expand humanitarian assistance to North Korea and joint industrial cooperation based on its denuclearization to help the divided states better prepare for future integration. 

  *Proposes establishment of inter-Korean exchange offices
  *Offers to help N.K. win foreign development funds 
  *Vows to expand humanitarian aid to N. Korea

President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech on her vision of unification in Dresden on Friday. (Yonhap)
In an address in the former East German city of Dresden, she also renewed calls for regular reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The event marked the last leg of her four-day state visit, during which Park and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to work together to share the lessons from the European country to help Seoul chart a path to its own unification with North Korea.

Park also received an honorary doctorate at Dresden University of Technology earlier in the day and had a dinner meeting on Thursday with Stanislaw Tillich, minister-president of the eastern state of Saxony.

“Today is a very meaningful day for me to visit the former East German region for the first time as the president of South Korea,” Park said during the dinner.

“Saxony offers a blueprint for the unification of the Korean Peninsula for its leading role in the German unification and post-unification economic development.”

The latest speech was designed to boost to her drive for unification, which is the centerpiece of the second year of her presidency. In her New Year address, the conservative leader said unification would bring a “bonanza” to all Koreans and an opportunity for the nation to take a great leap forward.

The event drew extensive media coverage, with about 10 television networks broadcasting live. This came amid speculation that she would unveil a so-called “Dresden doctrine” as a watershed element in her North Korea policy, just like former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who gave a landmark unification address in the city in 1989.

But no major announcement transpired; nor did the speech unveil a fresh, realistic vision and detailed action plans for the peninsula.

The Park administration has been stressing humanitarian assistance as a key component of her “trust-building process” approach. The much-trumpeted initiative was designed to reengage Pyongyang while deterring its saber rattling by gradually forging trust through small projects, which would then lead to greater collaboration in line with the communist state’s denuclearization.

But the Kim Jong-un regime remains steadfast in its nuclear ambitions and has recently escalated tension through rocket launches and criticism of Seoul.

Pyongyang already brushed off Seoul’s proposal early this month for working-level talks to discuss ways to regularly hold reunions of separated family members, citing the absence of the necessary political environment and atmosphere.

Many of Park’s predecessors used trips to Germany to announce new offers or policies on North Korea. Three months after former President Kim Dae-jung unveiled the “Berlin Declaration” calling for the end of the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula and enduring peace between the old foes, he had an unprecedented summit with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Later in the day, Park was scheduled to travel to Frankfurt to meet with South Korean residents, including former miners and nurses sent to Germany in the 1960s to earn foreign currency to help expedite the country’s economic growth. Her father, former President Park Chung-hee, spearheaded ambitious reforms from out of the ashes of war.

In 1964, the late Park delivered a tearful speech before hundreds of South Korean miners and nurses during a trip to a coal mine in Germany, vowing to develop South Korea’s economy so that the future generations would not have to go through such hardships.

By Shin Hyon-hee