|President Moon Jae-in speaks at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul, Friday. Yonhap|
President stresses cooperation with Japan for peace
By Kim Bo-eun
President Moon Jae-in pledged to play a crucial role in North Korea and the U.S. reaching a deal on the former's denuclearization, a day after the second summit between the two countries failed to produce any agreement.
"I believe this is part of a process to reach a higher level of agreement," he said in a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Friday.
"Now our role has become even more important. My administration will closely communicate and cooperate with North Korea and the U.S. to help their talks reach a complete settlement."
Moon said the process of achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula will involve difficulties. He added that the discussions in Hanoi were meaningful in that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un spoke about the issue of setting up a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang, "an important step toward the normalization of bilateral ties."
In addition, Moon highly evaluated Trump's commitment to continuing talks with the North.
The president made hopeful remarks despite the result of the Hanoi summit, something Moon had eagerly been pushing for.
He referred to the easing of tension between the South and North due to the unfolding detente that began last year.
"This will lead to South Koreans' free and safe trips to North Korea. I will strive to make it possible for separated families to visit their hometowns and meet with their relatives," he said.
Looking back at the past 100 years, Moon said he will begin the journey of the next 100 years, where people of the South and North will create an era of peace and cooperation.
"We will establish a permanent peace regime without fail through our determination and close coordination with the U.S., a settlement reached through talks between the U.S. and North Korea, and the support of the international community," he said.
The president also said this time will be one of economic cooperation.
Despite inter-Korean economic projects remaining in hiatus due to the U.S. refusing to partially ease sanctions on the North, Moon unveiled his determination to push forward with them.
"We will consult with the U.S. on ways to resume tours to Mount Geumgang and operations at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex," he said, stating a joint economic committee will be established when there is progress on nuclear disarmament by Pyongyang.
Moon said the development in inter-Korean relations will lead to the normalization of North Korea's relations with the U.S. and Japan, which would expand into a new order of peace and security in Northeast Asia.
Meanwhile, marking the anniversary of the independence movement that took place under Japan's colonial rule in 1919, Moon said it was necessary to "wipe out the vestiges of pro-Japanese collaborators."
But he noted that this did not mean the government intended to create diplomatic conflict with the neighboring country, stating their diplomacy should be "future-oriented."
"Shredding these vestiges is all about reaffirming the most basic values: Acts by pro-Japanese collaborators should be repented, and the independence movement should be honored and respected," he said.
Moon continued, "Cooperation with Japan will also be strengthened for the sake of peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Ten thousand people are estimated to have attended the major-scale event commemorating the centennial of the independence movement, including descendants of those who were directly involved, victims of Japan's sexual slavery and forced labor, and family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and of those killed in the war.