I am deeply pleased to join this forum organized by the Global Peace Foundation to promote “Peaceful Unification and Economic Development” in this year that marks the 70th anniversary of South Korea’s thrilling national liberation. I’d like to deliver my sincere gratitude and congratulations on Mr. Hyunjin Moon, Chairman of the Global Peace Foundation which has staged a variety of peace movements in more than 20 countries across the world and, especially, has made continuous efforts for peaceful reunification between two Koreas.
This year marks the 70th anniversary since the division of two Koreas along with the national independence. As more time goes divided, pain runs deep in the lives of Koreans who had lived on the Korean Peninsula for thousands years together. This means that our responsibility for reunification cannot be graver than ever, and we cannot afford to sit back and just wait. North Korea has to quickly come out of their isolated world, join the international community through reform and opening and pursue socio-economic development through inter-Korean cooperation. Such efforts can turn into a successful outcome not only with the government’s commitment but also with the people’s active participation and practice.
In this sense, today’s forum to garner your wisdom to move up the date of reunification and achieve an effective economic integration through inter-Korean economic cooperation is all the more meaningful.
Twenty five years ago, when Germany succeeded in reunification as a democratic and free-market economy, the excitement of reunification was not only felt by Germans. The entire world was also astonished. Especially, to Koreans, it served as an opportunity to look back on our reality with a pitiful feeling. There were many concerns over the future of Germany due to social confusion and conflicts between Eastern and Western Germans at the early stage of reunification. However, Germany has now accomplished a successful integration and development between the East and West, led the European integration, taken the initiative in solving the Greek economic crisis and embraced Syrian refugees, transforming itself from a country committing a war crime during the World War Ⅱto a respectable nation.
I am confident that we can make a miracle on the Korean Peninsula more flourishing than Germany’s miracle on the Rhine River (also called Wirtschaftswunder). A united Korea will have a land area of 220,000 ㎢ which is similar to that of the United Kingdom, a population of 80 million and more than 40,000 dollars as per-capita income, becoming a leading nation in the world if South Korea’s experience of economic development, the North’s abundant natural resources and the two Koreas’ brilliant human resources can be combined and create synergetic effects of the inter-Korean economic cooperation. Then, the Korean economy will enjoy the miracle on the Korean Peninsula beyond its miracle on the Han River.
Such prospects are not only reflecting our hopes. Research institutes at home and abroad also present a positive outlook on the future of a united Korea. For example, Goldman Sacks, a global investment bank, announced that if South Korea becomes reunited with the North while keeping its liberal democracy and market economy intact, its economic power could exceed those of major nations like the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan in 20 or 30 years.
Honorable guests at home and abroad,
Reunification cannot come true simply with the collapse of the North Korean regime or South Korea’s reunification policies. The government and the people have to join their forces together and build reconciliation and cooperation between the South and North while creating a consensus with neighboring nations. These various efforts can finally usher in the era of reunification. Especially, when the network of exchanges and cooperation driven by socio-economic organizations, businessmen, cultural figures and athletes densely spreads like capillaries, we can understand others more deeply and ease tensions.
Uniting South and North Korea through these efforts will be a starting point to developing into a leading advanced nation by tapping into the two Koreas’ capability to create synergistic effects. Korea will become a nation respected by the people around the world by combining national and universal values and converging economic, diplomatic and cultural powers which, in turn, could raise Korea’s prestige in the world and promote the world peace and development.
Once again, I offer my sincere congratulations and gratitude while hoping that today’s forum can make a significant contribution to our reunification efforts.