Park Jae-kyu, President of KU Had Luncheon with President Moon Jae-in
President Park attended a luncheon meeting hosted by President Moon at the Blue House on June 17th. This luncheon was arranged to listen to various opinions from senior diplomatic and security officials on the tense inter-Korean relations, including the recent explosion of the inter-Korean liaison office which was considered a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation and a representative achievement of the Panmunjom Declaration. Besides Park Jae-kyu, current President of KU and the former Minister of Unification, and President Moon, Moon Jung-in, a special presidential adviser on unification, foreign affairs and security, Park Ji-won, the former member of the National Assembly, and so on had the meeting. President Park is a political scientist who has devoted himself to education and research for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula and has served as the president of University of North Korean Studies, a chairman of the association of presidents of Korean universities, and the 26th Minister of Unification, starting with the establishment of the Institute for Far East Studies in 1972. At the same time, Park was one of the main players who led the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration as a chairman of the inter-Korean summit committee.
Finding out ways to improve inter-Korean relations
The government of President Moon’s peace process for the Korean peninsula is in the most critical stage in two years after the thaw of 2018. North Korea's government declared a split with Moon Jae-in and issued threats of military action towards the situation. Is there any solution to move stuffy inter-Korean relations forward? To mark the 20th anniversary of June 15th South-North Joint Declaration, we met Park Jae-kyu, the former Minister of Unification and one of the leading figures in the joint declaration, and asked about a solution.
1. President Moon proposed improving inter-Korean relations and cooperation through his New Year's address and March 1st Independence Movement Day speech this year, but there was no response from North Korea. Is there any reason for that?
“North Korea has begun to look back at its relations with the South since Hanoi No Deal. North Korea's biggest concern is the lifting of sanctions against North Korea and ensuring the security of its regime. They judged that our government's role in persuading the U.S. is limited. They must have decided that the 'independent inter-Korean relations' mentioned by President Moon were also implemented under sanctions against North Korea in principle, not a fundamental solution.”
2. What was the biggest goal agreed upon by North and South at the time of the June 15th South-North Joint Declaration?
“It is a promise to institutionalize the foundation for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders of the two Koreas shared the view that it is more important to implement any agreement than to produce a principled agreement. Unlike past agreements between the North and South, we tried to materialize and implement the agreement by continuing 21 rounds of follow-up working-level talks.”
3. The ultimate goal of the inter-Korean agreement is denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. How can we find a breakthrough in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue?
“To denuclearize and dismantle the cold war structure, three cogwheels (North Korea-America, the U.S.-China, and the South and the North) should roll. North Korea and the U.S. should establish diplomatic relations as a normal state by denuclearization and lifting sanctions on the North. The U.S. and China should move toward a cooperative conflict and should not use the division of the Korean Peninsula as a buffer zone for the new cold war structure. The two Koreas should act as the main axis in the midst of all preceding wheels. If the middle axis fails to move, both wheels cannot move. North Korea also needs to judge the role of the three wheels well and use it as a stepping stone to resolve the issue, not to drive inter-Korean relations into tension.”