The Korea Herald


Full text of Moon's speech at the Korber Foundation

By Bae Hyun-jung

Published : July 7, 2017 - 07:38

    • Link copied

This is Cheong Wa Dae's unofficial translation of President Moon Jae-in's speech delivered Thursday at Berlin's Old City Hall upon the invitation of the Körber Foundation. -- Ed.


President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

Respected German citizens,
My fellow countrymen at home,
Dr. Paulsen, member of the executive board of the Körber Foundation, 
Mr. Modrow, former Prime Minister of East Germany,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my endless respect to Germany and the German people for overcoming the Cold War and its division, accomplishing unification, and with this strength, leading the integration of Europe and international peace.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to the Federal Government of Germany and the Körber Foundation for arranging this event today.

Moreover, I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the bereaved family and the German people for the passing of the late Helmut Kohl, former Chancellor of Germany. The Republic of Korea will remember Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s legacy of leading the unification of Germany and European integration through active and enthusiastic diplomacy despite the challenging environment of the Cold War.

Distinguished guests from home and abroad,

The Berlin in which we are here today is the very place where 17 years ago President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea introduced the “Berlin Doctrine” which laid out the foundation for reconciliation and cooperation between South and North Korea. Moreover, this Altes Stadhaus is a historic site where the German Unification Treaty was negotiated.

Today, at the very place where Berlin’s lesson is still alive, I would like to outline the Korean Peninsula peace initiative of the new Korean Government.

Distinguished guests,

To Korea, which is the last divided nation on this planet, the experience of Germany’s unification gives hope for unification, and at the same time shows us the path that we need to follow.

First and foremost, it is the importance of the process leading to unification. Germany’s unification made us realize how important the process of peace and cooperation based on mutual respect really is. The German people made the decision of unification by themselves based on the trust that was built during this process.

The citizens of East and West Germany interacted and cooperated with each other in various areas, and the two Governments guaranteed this institutionally. Nonpolitical exchanges in the private sector unlatched the gate of political ideology and the people from East and West Germany started to open their hearts towards each other.

The fact that the Ostpolitik continued for twenty-some years is also an important point. The reason that a consistent policy was possible in spite of the change of governments is because it was supported by the people and was built upon the cooperation of the international community.

Germany understood that when a peaceful order is created in Europe, the unification of Germany would also be possible under that structure. By keeping pace with and at times persuading the international community, Germany was able to obtain strong security, and was assured support for inter-German relations.

The German unification process, which was initiated by Chancellor Willy Brandt, was completed under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was from a different political party. Likewise, I believe that for peace and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, there should be continued cooperation that transcends partisan lines.

Distinguished guests,

For the Korean people who long for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula, Berlin is remembered together with the “Berlin Declaration” made by President Kim Dae-jung.

President Kim’s Berlin Declaration led to the first inter-Korean Summit in 2000, and brought about the great transformation which enabled the South and the North, that had been in confrontation and conflict for more than six decades after the division and war, to enter into a path of reconciliation and cooperation.

Following this path, President Roh Moo-hyun set a new milestone for the development of inter-Korean relations and peace and prosperity through the second inter-Korean Summit in 2007.

President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun also promoted international cooperation in order for peace to take root on the Korean Peninsula.

At the time, the Six-Party Talks adopted the Sept. 19 Joint Statement and the Feb. 13 Joint Statement that outlined the principles and direction for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. There was also progress in North Korea-US relations and North Korea-Japan relations.

I am inheriting these two former government’s efforts and, at the same time, with a more leading role by the Korean government, will embark on a dauntless journey towards establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

Respected guests from home and abroad,

The biggest challenge that the Korean Peninsula is facing is the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korea is continuing its nuclear and missile provocations and is threatening the peace on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and furthermore, world peace.

In particular, the missile provocation just two days ago was a very disappointing and a largely wrong decision.

It is not only a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, but is also an outright rejection of the repeated warnings by the international community. Above all, for my Government, which at long last had arranged a path towards dialogue through the recent ROK-US Summit, the level of regret is even deeper.

This choice by the North was reckless. It incurred punishment by the international community. It is testing my Government’s commitment that if North Korea stops its provocative actions and shows its will towards denuclearization, my Government will lead the way in helping the North receive the international community’s support and cooperation.

I hope that North Korea will not cross the bridge of no return. North Korea must give up its nuclear and missile development and find a way in which it can cooperate with the international community.

The complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the agreed demand of the international community and is the absolute condition for peace on the Korean Peninsula. This means that the decision for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the only way North Korea will be guaranteed its security.

Therefore, I would like to emphasize that now is the last chance for North Korea to make the right decision and also the best time to do so. This is because we have reached the tipping point of the vicious circle of military escalation, and thus, the need for dialogue is more pressing than ever before.

It is also important to note that the basic conditions have been met to restart the Korean Peninsula Peace Process which had been halted.

Recently, Korea and the United States agreed on the overall direction that sanctions are a diplomatic tool and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be achieved in a peaceful manner. Our two countries also made clear that we do not have a hostile policy towards North Korea. We affirmed that, together with the international community, we can provide a brighter future to North Korea, depending on its decision.

Korea and the United States also shared the view that in order to create a breakthrough of the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula, improvement in inter-Korean relations is vital. President Trump supported Korea’s leading role in creating an environment conducive to the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula, and also supported my initiative to reopen inter-Korean dialogue.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and I also reached a consensus on this matter.

For quite some time, I have argued that my country must sit in the driver’s seat and lead Korean Peninsula-related issues based on cooperation with our neighbors. Now the conditions are finally being fostered.

It has also been repeatedly confirmed that if the right conditions are met, the United States, China, and the rest of the international community are keeping the door open for dialogue at any time.

Now we are left with North Korea to make its decision.

Whether it will come out to the forum for dialogue, or whether it will kick away this opportunity of dialogue that has been difficultly made, is only a decision that North Korea can make.

But if North Korea does not stop its nuclear provocations, there is no other choice but to further strengthen sanctions and pressure. Peace on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s security will not be guaranteed.

I look forward to and urge North Korea to accept this commitment of my Government and the international community towards peace on the Korean Peninsula as a very significant and urgent signal.

Distinguished guests,

Now I would like to outline my Government’s policy direction that will lead to dissolving the Cold War structure and establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

First, what we are pursuing is only peace.

A peaceful Korean Peninsula is a peninsula free from the threat of nuclear weapons and war. It is a peninsula where the South and the North recognize and respect each other and live well together.

We already know the road that leads to a peaceful Korean Peninsula. It is returning to the June 15 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4 Declaration.

Through these two declarations, the South and the North clearly stated that the owner of inter-Korean issues is our own nation, and committed to closely cooperate in easing tensions and guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula. The two Koreas also promised to walk the path of common prosperity through cooperative projects in every sector of the society, including in the economic field.

This spirit of agreement that was made on the foundation of mutual respect between the South and the North is still valid. And it is also desperate. We must return to that spirit where the South and the North together worked towards realizing a peaceful peninsula.

I clearly state the following: we do not wish for North Korea’s collapse, and will not work towards any kind of unification through absorption. Neither will we pursue an artificial unification.

Unification is a process where both sides seek coexistence and co-prosperity and restore its national community. When peace is established, unification will be realized naturally someday through the agreement between the South and the North. What my Government and I would like to realize is only peace.

Second, my Government will pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that guarantees the security of the North Korean regime.

Last April, rumors that we are on the brink of war swept over the Korean Peninsula and the entire world. The military tension around the Korean Peninsula is like a “powder keg” of the world. 

We need to urgently ease the military tension on the Korean Peninsula. We need to rebuild the trust that has collapsed between the South and the North. In this regard, we will seek exchanges and dialogue. North Korea also needs to stop from any more nuclear provocations. We need to establish a military management system to prevent accidental clashes.

A more fundamental solution is to uproot the North Korean nuclear issue. The North Korean nuclear issue has become much more difficult to deal with than the past with the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. A step-by-step and comprehensive approach is required.

My Government, in cooperation with the international community, will work towards a comprehensive solution of the current issues on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, including the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program and establishing a peace regime, easing North Korea’s security and economic concerns, and improving North Korea-US and North Korea-Japan relations.

However, it takes two to tango. This is only possible when North Korea fully stops its nuclear provocations and comes out to the forum of bilateral and multilateral dialogue on denuclearization.

Third, my Government will work towards establishing a permanent peace regime.

The Korean Peninsula has been under an armistice for more than 60 years since 1953. Firm peace cannot be realized under an unstable armistice system. The invaluable agreements between the South and the North should not be shaken or broken every time there is a change of government.

We need to institutionalize peace.

Domestically, my Government will work towards enacting into law the inter-Korean agreements. We will make it clear that all agreements between the South and the North are basic assets of the Korean Peninsula that should be inherited even when there is a change of government.

In order to establish a permanent peace structure on the Korean Peninsula, we need to conclude a peace treaty with the participation of relevant countries, and formally end the war. Through a comprehensive approach on the North Korean nuclear issue and establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, my Government will pursue the conclusion of a peace treaty along with complete denuclearization.

Fourth, my Government will work towards drawing a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula.

Economic cooperation where the South and the North prosper together is an important foundation of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula.

I have planned a ‘new economic map for the Korean Peninsula.’ If there is progress in the North Korean nuclear issue and if appropriate conditions are met, my Government will draw a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula.

We will freshly connect the South and the North, where it has been disconnected by the military demarcation line, with an economic belt and establish an economic community where the two Koreas proper together.

The severed inter-Korean railway will be connected again. A train departing from Busan and Mokpo will run through Pyongyang and Beijing, and head towards Russia and Europe. Cooperation projects in Northeast Asia, such as the gas pipeline project connecting the two Koreas and Russia, may also be implemented.

South and North Korea will prosper together as a bridging country connecting the Asian mainland and the Pacific. The South and the North need only to implement the Oct. 4 Declaration together. Then the world will see a new economic model of an economy of peace and co-prosperity.

Fifth, my Government will consistently pursue nonpolitical exchange and cooperation projects by separating it from the political and military situation.

The exchange and cooperation projects between South and North Korea are the process of healing the wounds and realizing reconciliation among all members on the Korean Peninsula and also efforts towards building peace from within.  

In both Koreas there are separated families who can no longer visit their hometown due to the division and war. It is truly an embarrassment for both governments of the South and the North for not being able to heal the scars for more than six decades.

Among the separated family members who have applied to the Korean Government to meet their families in the North, there are more than 60,000 people who are still alive and their average age is 81 years old. The situation in North Korea should be the same. We need to let them meet their families while they are still alive. This is a pressing humanitarian issue that needs be addressed in front of any political considerations.

Issues that the peoples of the South and the North suffer from due to the division need to be addressed by the authorities of the two Koreas.

When the rivers in North Korea overflow, the people in South Korea suffer from floods. Infectious diseases, forest pests, and forest fires do not observe the boundaries between the South and the North. My Government will work towards cooperation in which the South and the North jointly addresses these problems.

Exchanges among the private sector have contributed to easing tensions and restoring homogeneity between the two Koreas ahead of exchanges between the two governments. Expanding exchanges in the private sector is a valuable asset that can help untie the tight knot between the South and the North.

My Government will widely support exchanges of the private sector in various areas. We will also actively support exchanges among different regions.

The universal value and international norms of respecting human beings must be observed all around the Korean Peninsula.

My Government will join the international community in raising its clear voice against the poor human rights conditions that the North Korean people are living in. In addition, my Government will expand its humanitarian cooperation in a way that actually helps the North Korean people.

Distinguished guests,

My Government and I are ready to implement while holding firmly to these policy directions.

The South and the North need to work hand-in-hand and make a breakthrough in realizing peace on the Korean Peninsula. I suggest to North Korea that we first start with what is easy.
First, let us solve the pressing humanitarian issue.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Oct. 4 Declaration. Also, Chusuk, which is one of our nation’s greatest traditional holidays, falls on Oct. 4 this year.

In the Oct. 4 Declaration, the two Koreas agreed to expand the family reunions between the separated families and relatives.

If the family reunion event can be held on this day when these two meaningful anniversaries overlap, it will be a meaningful start respecting and observing the agreement already made between the South and the North.

If North Korea is ready to take one step further, I suggest that we also include visiting the ancestral graves for this year’s family reunion event.

The separated family members of the divided Germany were allowed not only exchanges of letters and phone calls but even exchange of visits and migration. There is no reason why we cannot do the same. Before more members of separated families leave us behind, we must wipe their tears. If North Korea is not ready immediately, our side will allow and open North Korean separated family members to visit their hometown and ancestral graves in the South. I look forward to North Korea’s positive response, and hope that South-North Korean Red Cross talks will be held to discuss the reunion of separated family members.  

Second, let us make the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics an ‘Olympic of Peace’ with the participation of the North.

In Feb. 2018, the Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeonchang, Korea, which is only 100 km away from the military demarcation line. Two years later in 2020, the Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, and in 2022, the Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing.

My Government would like to suggest to North Korea to utilize these series of precious events held in Asia as an opportunity for building peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, and the world.

Sports have the power of connecting one heart to another.

When athletes from South and North Korea, and from the rest of the world, sweat and compete against each other, offer a hand to fellow athletes who have fallen down, and embrace each other, the world will witness peace through the Olympic games.

I look forward to opening together a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula while applauding together with the leaders of the world. As the IOC has promised its cooperation on the participation of North Korea in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, I look forward to North Korea’s active and positive response.

Third, let us mutually halt acts of hostility around the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

Even at this moment, a war without gunfire continues along the MDL on the Korean Peninsula. The escalation of military tension between the two militaries remains unchanged. This situation increases the danger of armed conflict between the South and the North and threatens the safety of the people who are living in the areas nearby on both sides.

July 27 this year marks the 64th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement. If the two Koreas, starting this day, stop all acts of hostility that escalate military tension on the MDL, it will provide a meaningful opportunity to ease tensions between the two Koreas.

Fourth, inter-Korean dialogue is necessary for peace on the Korean Peninsula and South-North cooperation.

Easing tension on the Korean Peninsula is the most urgent issue between the South and the North. The current situation where there is no contact between the relevant authorities of the South and the North is highly dangerous. We need to start with contacts to manage the situation and move on to meaningful dialogue.

I am ready to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea at any time at any place, if the conditions are met and if it will provide an opportunity to transform the tension and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. We can place on the dialogue table all issues of interest between the South and the North, including the nuclear issue and the peace treaty, and discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean cooperation.

It will not be solved with only one attempt. However, making a start is important. One can take a step forward only after rising up from one’s seat. I look forward to North Korea’s decision.

Respected guests from home and abroad,

Germany overcame the Cold War and achieved unification before Korea, but it is now facing other challenges against peace, such as regionalism, terrorism, and refugees.

I believe that Germany, through the spirit of democracy and peaceful coexistence of Berlin, will overcome these new challenges and complete the integration of the German society and Europe.

The Republic of Korea will also surely realize a peaceful Korean Peninsula through the power of its mature democracy. We will complete in Seoul and Pyongyang the dismantlement of the Cold War which started in Berlin. Furthermore, we will spread a new vision of peace to Northeast Asia and the rest of the world.

Germany and Korea will not stop its march towards peace. Our two countries will always support, cheer, and be in solidarity with each other. Let us firmly walk together towards a better life for mankind and a brighter future for the world.

Thank you.