|Journalists from around the world participate in the World Journalists Conference online, with participants from Korea attending in person at the Korea Press Center in Seoul, Tuesday, the second day of the three-day event hosted by the Journalists Association of Korea. / Yonhap|
By Park Han-sol
Journalists from around the globe have said the peace process on the Korean Peninsula must continue, calling on the two Koreas to carry out agreements made during the two inter-Korean summits between President Moon Jae-in and leader Kim Jong-un.
The calls were made Wednesday, on the last day of the three-day 2020 World Journalists Conference held in Seoul by the Journalists Association of Korea. Nearly 100 journalists from 60 countries joined the event online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the theme of "Peace Policy in the Korean Peninsula" in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the 1950-53 Korean War, the global participants formed a consensus on the importance of peace and prosperity on the peninsula and discussed the role of journalists in inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. relations.
"The option of peace must always precede the option of war," Bilal Bassal, a journalist and art critic from Lebanon, said firmly during his speech. "The biggest losers in a war are people, and for me, human lives are much more important than political gains."
The participants highlighted the significance of diplomatic channels and economic cooperation among key parties ― the two Koreas, the U.S. and China ― in overcoming the current political impasse.
Bob Iskandar from Indonesia, a senior director of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists, stressed that the involved parties must work together in good faith in a sustained fashion "on a range of issues including denuclearization of North Korea, economic cooperation, military confidence-building and people-to-people exchange."
To achieve a real breakthrough in the peace process, it is vital to create a new climate of trust so that both Koreas can "understand each other, leaving the past into oblivion and dismantling the North Korean nuclear program, its only weapon of protection, and consider the lifting of sanctions," said Santiago Castillo Rodriguez, director of the Spanish-language online platform ASIA northeast dedicated to analyzing Northeast Asian affairs.
The sentiment toward the importance of diplomacy was echoed by scholars in Korea. Lim Eul-chul, a professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, stated that in order for North Korea and the U.S. to make progress in their stalled relationship and achieve the goals laid out in the Singapore joint statement, both must exchange proactive measures that will build trust between the two states.
Wang Son-taek, a research associate at Seoul-based think tank Yeosijae, explained the three tasks that must be carried out to bring an end to inter-Korean hostility, which has imposed military and economic burdens on the region.
"First, the South Korean government should secure the bipartisan support on the peace policies from the domestic political arena. Second, North Korea should show a clearer willingness and cooperation for the denuclearization and peace regime. Third, the support from the international society is critical," Wang said.