President Park Geun-hye urged officials, politicians and civilian experts on Thursday to seek ways to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula and boost humanitarian aid, calling unification the ultimate goal to heal the decades-long pain of the divided Koreas.
Park also called for joint efforts to build social infrastructure in North Korea to improve the quality of life there and to narrow differences between the two Koreas, which have been divided for more than 60 years following the 1950-53 Korean War.
“I believe that the unification is an ultimate way to overcome the abnormality of the Korean peninsula and a fundamental solution to heal the pain of the Korean people,” she said during an inaugural meeting of the presidential panel for Korean unification.
The unification should not just be “a physical integration” between the two Koreas but should be something that could generate growth for the Korean people, she said. The task of achieving peaceful unification of the Koreas should no longer be delayed, she added.
The meeting was held for the first time after the president launched the unification panel last month. The plan to form the committee, as well as her unification initiative, was announced early this year. But the launch of the committee was delayed due to the sinking of the Sewol ferry.
During the meeting, Park also requested the members to devise efficient measures to achieve her unification initiative.
During a visit to the eastern German city of Dresden in March, Park unveiled a package of proposals to lay the groundwork for reunification, including extending aid to mothers and their babies; building infrastructure in the North in return for rights to develop underground resources; and increasing bilateral exchanges in various sectors.
“A joint effort between the South and the North is needed to establish social infrastructure (in the North) including the linking of railways and expansion of roads,” she said.
The president also called for the creation of a peace park in the demilitarized zone, saying that it would signify the enactment of unification process of the two Koreas and to reduce tension on the peninsula.
The committee should also embrace various public opinions while mapping the unification blueprint, she added.
The 50-member committee is chaired by Park herself and has former ambassador to China Chung Chong-wook and Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae as the two vice chairs. It also includes 30 civilian members to make it a transparent organization that discusses ways to build public consensus.
Also, the president asked the panel to create a blueprint that could draw support and interest from neighboring countries.
In a speech marking the first anniversary of her administration, she referred to unification as an “economic bonanza.” The South Korean leader believes that reunification will provide great economic opportunities for the Korean Peninsula and neighboring countries.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)