Reunification is always the goal for Korea

| September 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

North Koreans bow in front of the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang.

North Koreans bow in front of the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang.

The year 2013 is the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and a time to pay tribute to the young soldiers, including nearly 27,000 Canadians, who came to Korea to defend a people they’d never met.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada. To mark these milestones, our governments declared 2013 the Year of Korea in Canada and the Year of Canada in Korea. Canada also designated 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran.
Over the past six decades, Korea and Canada have developed a special partnership based on shared history, common values, robust economic ties and close people-to-people connections. We have also achieved countless successes together as staunch allies and like-minded countries. With this momentous year in mind, I would like to discuss Korea’s foreign policy toward North Korea and Northeast Asia.
For the first time in our modern history, Korea saw its first female president, Park Geun-hye, take office in February, signalling a “new era of hope” for our country. In her inauguration address, President Park laid out her vision. This vision defines the new government’s foreign policy, which has been labelled trustpolitik.
With regard to the two Koreas, though we commemorate a 60-year-old armistice agreement, we recognize it is a fragile peace, at best. The task of all Koreans over this period has been to transform this fragile truce into a sustainable peace. Unfortunately, over the past six decades, North Korea has not made this job easy for us.
As part of President Park’s vision, the government seeks a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula. Trust is a powerful instrument to bring about genuine and sustainable peace. As such, the goal of this process is to establish co-operation on the Korean Peninsula and within the region, and eventually lay the foundation for peaceful reunification.
Trust-building strives to utilize instruments of security and deterrence, as well as dialogue and co-operation, to induce positive change in North Korea.
North Korea’s provocations over the past year, from launching long-range missiles to conducting a nuclear test in an attempt to advance its weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) capability, pose a serious threat to the peace and security of the international community.
Faced with such threats, Korea’s allies have shown unwavering solidarity and support. In particular, through UN Security Council resolutions and joint statements from the G8 and ASEAN summits, the international community has demonstrated unprecedented unity in condemning North Korea and urging it to change.
Korea, along with the international community, firmly adheres to maintaining strong deterrence against North Korean threats and nuclear development. To make substantial progress on denuclearization, necessary pre-steps must be taken. We will not tolerate their continued tactic of provocations, after which the international community sends food aid. Then they lead to yet further confrontations.
In order to start building trust on the peninsula, it is important that both Koreas commit to respecting agreements made with each other and with the international community. The Park Geun-hye government will continue its efforts to develop inter-Korean relations in such a manner. It also seeks to work with the international community to promote positive change within North Korea, so that it can become a responsible member of the global village. We cannot turn a blind eye to the hunger and human rights violations facing the Korean people on the other side of the peninsula. Regardless of the political situation, we will continue our humanitarian assistance and exchanges.
Overall, if North Korea makes the right choices, Korea and the international community will provide the necessary assistance. Even if it takes time, the trust-building process will be steadily pursued as our best means for establishing South Korea-North Korea relations that align with common sense and international norms, and for carving out true trust and peace on the peninsula.
Still, the challenges confronting the Park Geun-hye government are not just North Korean nuclear and WMD issues. Many daunting challenges arise from the region and the world. In Northeast Asia, the degree of political and security co-operation remains at a nascent stage, despite the ever-increasing economic interdependence. Territorial and historical disputes are still troubling countries in this part of the world. We call this phenomenon the “Asia Paradox.” Over the next few years, the way in which we deal with this paradox will determine Asia’s new world order.
The Park Geun-hye government seeks to contribute to peace, stability and co-operation in Northeast Asia. Through this vision, we can achieve small, yet significant exchanges in areas of mutual interest, such as the environment, disaster relief, nuclear-power safety and counter-terrorism, which can develop into habits of co-operation. Eventually, this prolonged co-operation can be nurtured into a sustainable peace.
Of course, signs of co-operation in Northeast Asia are already taking place. The Korea-China-Japan Trilateral Summit has developed into an independent annual forum and in 2011, a permanent secretariat was established in Seoul to co-ordinate activities of trilateral co-operation.
As for the bilateral relations of Korea in the region, maintaining our firm and strong alliance with the United States will remain the bedrock of our foreign policy. This ensures our frontline is secure and our society remains calm and stable.
Korea is also nurturing its “strategic co-operative partnership” with China. In June, China’s support for the Korean trust-building process was reconfirmed during the summit meeting between our two countries. At the same time, our leaders reaffirmed their shared understanding that they will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. They agreed to work more closely to attain their shared strategic goals of denuclearizing North Korea and maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and within Northeast Asia.
In addition, Korea will seek to stabilize its relations with Japan by enhancing co-operation in as many areas as possible, while maintaining a principled and firm stance on historical issues.
Finally, for more than six decades, Korea and Canada have stood shoulder-to-shoulder as staunch allies in dealing with North Korea. When North Korea commits acts of aggression, Canada consistently takes a principled stand in condemning its reckless actions and has imposed some of the toughest sanctions yet through its controlled-engagement policy. Overall, Canada firmly supports our efforts to improve relations with North Korea, advance human rights and achieve  a peaceful reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
All of these efforts at enhanced co-operation are instrumental in laying the foundation for the eventual reunification of Korea. A unified Korea will benefit all partners in Northeast Asia. Rather than threaten the interests of others, peaceful reunification will create greater opportunities for growth, long-term stability and happiness in the region.

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