제13차 감마나이프학회 국제회의 김대중 前대통령 특별연설(영문)
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The Korean Divide−Its Consequences for Korea and the World
and is Unification Possible?
By Former President Kim Dae-jung
at the 13th International Meeting of the Leksell Gamma Knife Society
May 23 2006, Shilla Hotel, Seoul
Dr. Kim Dong-gyu, Chairman of the Leksell Gamma Knife Society, Dr. Dan Leksell, members of the Leksell Gamma Knife Society, and distinguished guests from home and abroad!
I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on the 13th International Meeting of the Leksell Gamma Knife Society and welcome you all to Korea. Today, I have been requested to talk about “The Korean Divide-Its Consequences for Korea and the World and is Unification Possible”. I have also been appointed honorary chairman. All these are a source of great honor and I extend my sincere gratitude to you.
The Korean Peninsula had remained unified for 1,300 years since the 7th century. However, when the Second World War ended with the surrender of Japan, the victors of the war, the United States and the Soviet Union, divided the Peninsula which had been Japan’s colony into two without any consent from the Korean people. Now 60 years have passed with the Peninsula still divided into South and North. However, neither the United States nor Russia has ever brought up the subject of responsibility for such division.
Division was not the only misfortune on the Peninsula. For three years starting from 1950 a war broke out between our own brethren. Nearly 20 countries in the world including the United States and China participated in the war and Japan and Russia were also indirectly involved. The Korean War was the biggest war in terms of scale and casualties since World War Ⅱ. Millions lost their lives, and the South and the North were burned down to ashes.
The age of Cold War continued for half a century even after the Korean War ended. While the Cold War around the world has already ended, the Korean Peninsula still remains as its only remnant. Two million soldiers stand against each other on the Peninsula. The issue of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction has driven the Korean Peninsula, East Asia and the whole world into tension. The North Korean nuclear issue is giving us the fear that another catastrophe could occur on the Peninsula.
As such, the division on the Peninsula has not only brought ill fortune to the Korean people but also a calamity that cannot be forgotten to the people of the world. And such tragic history has yet to see an end. We are struggling to open a way towards North Korea still without a firm guarantee for reconciliation and cooperation and eventually unification between the two Koreas. We are living in a situation encircled by the four powers of the United States, Japan, China and Russia. Such geopolitical situation of the Korean Peninsula cannot be seen anywhere else around the world.
Though we have gone through division, war, Cold War, enmity, confrontation and other tragedies, on the other hand we have consistently strived for reconciliation, exchange and cooperation between the two Koreas to regain a unified Peninsula as was bestowed upon us by our ancestors. Restoring a unified Peninsula is a mission that we can never give up. Division is not our destiny.
An independently unified Korea, and a Korea leaping ahead on the global stage is a hope and dream that we cannot forget even in our current state of division. It is also our demand to restore Korea to its original state after 60 years of division that we endured against our will.
At last, the road towards reconciliation and cooperation opened up for the South and the North in June 2000. As President at that time, I went to Pyongyang in North Korea and had the inter-Korean summit meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-il. We agreed that the South and the North should achieve unification based on the spirit of self-reliance. We agreed to expand exchange and cooperation between the two Koreas on a full scale and resolve all issues peacefully. A new chapter of history began after 50 years of division.
Much progress has been made during the six years since the inter-Korean summit. First, the sentiments of the South and North towards each other have changed from hostile enmity to understanding and cooperation. Though we do not acknowledge the political systems of each other, we have agreed on maintaining peace through understanding and cooperation, and pursue exchange and cooperation in various areas such as economy, culture and sports.
Second, the number of separated families who have been rejoined has reached 13,000 after the 2000 inter-Korean summit. These people have lived for more than half a century without even knowing whether their loved ones were alive or dead. This number only stood at 200 for 50 years up to the 2000 inter-Korean summit. The reunion of the separated families will increase exponentially once the construction of the permanent meeting place at Mt. Kumgang is completed.
Third, the South Korean government has accepted the people who have defected from North Korea and more than 8,000 defectors have settled down in the South with support from the South Korean government since the 2000 Summit. They are receiving considerable sums of governmental support.
Fourth, we have been providing hundreds of thousands of tons of food and fertilizers annually to help the food shortage in the North. Medical supplies and other necessities are also provided in large scale.
Fifth, an industrial complex jointly operated by the two Koreas has opened in Kaesong, a city immediately north of the DMZ. Already more than 5,000 North Korean workers are successfully working in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, cooperating with the South Korean companies. Once the Complex is expanded as planned, 700 thousand North Koreans will be working there. Inter-Korean economic cooperation such as the building of such an industrial complex and development of natural resources will increase in the future. The South, with our capital and technology, and the North, with their natural resources and workforce, will develop a win-win cooperative relationship that provides mutual benefits to both countries.
Sixth, the railroads and roads between the South and the North are being reconnected. We will repair the North Korean railroads and double-track the lines so that the railroads can reinforce the economic cooperation between the South and the North. At the same time, we will establish the “Iron Silk Road” which goes across Northeast Asia, Central Asia onto the European Continent so that it can significantly contribute to the economic development on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
Seventh, the number of South Korean tourists who have visited Mt. Kumgang has already exceeded 1.3 million. This has greatly contributed to eliminating the wall between the minds of the people of the South and North and building mutual understanding. Above all, it has helped increase the profit of the North Korean economy.
However, ladies and gentlemen!
Not all has progressed with shining results. Various conditions surrounding the Peninsula including the North Korean nuclear issue is causing the U.S.-North Korean relations to fall into stalemate. The six-party talks which include the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia are repeatedly falling into a standstill. As mentioned before, since the success of the inter-Korean summit in June 2000 much progress has been made. However, without the resolution of the U.S.-North Korean relations, the issues surrounding the divided Peninsula cannot be fundamentally resolved. We are doing our utmost so that the current six-party talks can open up the way to such a course.
I dearly hope that my planned visit to North Korea in late June can also contribute to the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation and the six-party talks, bringing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
We have maintained a consistent position regarding the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. That is, North Korea must completely give up its nuclear weapons program, and in return, the United States must guarantee North Korea’s safety and lift sanctions from its economy. Such a give-and-take deal must be carried out simultaneously.
Lastly, I will say a few words on the question you have raised that is, “whether unification is possible on the divided Peninsula”.
I would say “yes” to your question without a moment’s hesitation. Though admitting to the many difficulties existent, I firmly believe and proclaim that the Korean Peninsula will definitely be unified in the future. The reasons are as follows.
Firstly, we are a unified people with a history of 1,300 years. How could we give up unification just because of the division of half a century?
Secondly, our division had been drawn against our will. It had nothing to do with our own will. Therefore, the Korean people will do their utmost to rid the shameful remnants of foreign intervention on our sovereignty and restore unification on the Peninsula.
Thirdly, if another war is to break out on the Peninsula the South and the North will be destroyed to ashes. The South and the North both have the military power to bring such consequences. Why would we go to pains for such a war? The ultimate way to prevent such a war is to pursue reconciliation and cooperation for eventual unification.
Fourth, South Korea has already become the 11th largest economic power in the world. If the South and the North join hands we will achieve remarkable development in the future. Immediate inter-Korean cooperation will result in a win-win situation beneficial for both the South and the North. If we achieve unification, the Korean Peninsula will be able to join the ranks of the global powers in the world.
Fifth, only when unification is achieved can we open our way for a breakthrough to survive and prosper among the four powers of the United States, Japan, China and Russia. Professor Paul Kennedy of Yale University of the United States said at a lecture when he came to Korea last year that, “Korea is a country stuck between the legs of four huge elephants. There will be no way to survive unless Korea handles the relations among the four neighboring powers well.” I totally agree with him. We must exert our diplomatic capabilities so that we can gain the cooperation of the four neighboring powers to have lasting peace on the Peninsula. Thirty five years ago in 1971 when I ran in the presidential campaign, I called for the guaranteeing of peace on the Peninsula by the four powers of the United States, Japan, China and the then Soviet Union. And today, I have been emphasizing the need to make the six-party talks, which includes the four powers and the two Koreas, into a permanent body that guarantees peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. Many people from home and abroad support such an idea.
Sixth, we do not want a hastened unification. Unlike Germany, we do not want unification with North Korea through absorption. Even if we achieve immediate unification, we do not have the ability to take on the burden of North Korea’s ailing economy. Moreover, the South and the North even went to war and have the unfortunate history of living for more than half a century with distrust and enmity towards each other. Therefore, we need time to understand and reconcile with each other. The South and the North should promote exchange and cooperation, pursuing mutual prosperity and in 10 years or 20 years time, when both feel reassured we can pursue unification. Unification must be carried out in a democratic way that benefits all. I believe that the people of Korea and the world support my “sunshine policy” of peaceful coexistence, peaceful exchange and peaceful unification, as the best method in our current situation.
Now I would like to conclude my remarks. May is the most beautiful season in Korea. The weather is mild, the flowers are in full bloom and the trees are a fresh green. I hope you have a pleasant stay in my country. And above all, I would like to extend my best wishes for the success of the 13th International Meeting of the Leksell Gamma Knife Society so that it reaps great results for the improvement of health for human kind.