The river of history will flow through the channels of shared prosperity and peace.
Fifth Anniversary of the October 4 Joint Declaration Address
Date: October 4, 2012
Venue: Korea Press Foundation
Good morning, I am Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul.
Chairman Lee Byung-wan of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, Chairman Lee Hae-chan of the Democratic United Party, and distinguished guests who have graced us with your presence,
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the historical October 4 Joint Declaration between South and North Korea. Five years ago today was, indeed, an unforgettable day in our half-century of division.
We all clearly remember that remarkable day when former President Roh Moo-hyun and the First Lady walked across the military demarcation line to North Korea, becoming the first head of state to do so. The moment the leaders of the North and South joined hands for the first time in seven years and the meeting they held at the Youngbinguan (reception hall) of Baekhawon, which was followed by the signing of the historical agreement, remain incredibly vivid in my memory, as if it were just yesterday.
The two leaders’ determination to make peace, beginning with the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and leading to the October 4 Joint Declaration, gave the nations of the world hope that permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula was possible. Now, the day we finally break down the barrier of more than a half century of division is not far off.
The October 4 Joint Declaration was the first concrete step toward deepening and developing exchange and cooperation between the two Koreas in all areas, encompassing politics, military, economy, society, culture, and diplomacy. In addition, it was a practical plan for the North and South to stride into the future as one nation and community. It was a historical promise, pledging active cooperation with the goal of achieving shared prosperity and restoring homogeneity between the two sides based on mutual respect and trust.
If only the determination of the October 4 Joint Declaration had been maintained and its conditions upheld to this day, when international affairs are changing so rapidly, the political situation on the Korean Peninsula may have been very different from what it is today. By adopting more flexible policies and making decisions in the present based on a vision of the future, peace on the Korean Peninsula and the history of diplomacy between the North and South may have advanced further.
However, the present day inter-Korean relationship has reverted to its Cold War state. The railway and roads are blocked, and people-to-people exchange, nominally the Geumgangsan Mountain tourism program, has come to a full stop. Above all, we have had to sacrifice the lives of our people and soldiers. These grievances demonstrate that we have not been able to act as the main parties in solving our problems with the North in a sensitive and careful manner, and we cannot avoid the thought that we are not the major player in our diplomacy with North Korea and surrounding countries.
At the end of last year, North Korea underwent a huge change. Our counterpart in the Joint Declaration five years ago, Kim Jong-il, chairman of the National Defense Commission, died, and was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.
Despite this change, exhaustive words of conflict and destructive confrontation are still being exchanged on the Korean Peninsula. It is grieving to see the efforts and hope of countless people for peace and harmony between the two Koreas being crushed.
Regardless, we cannot give up and allow ourselves to fall into dismay, nor, especially, can the mayor of Seoul, who is responsible for the safety of 10 million citizens. Regarding the sustainable development of the city and the safety of its people, the thought of carrying out the October 4 Joint Declaration for the peace and joint survival of the two Koreas is particularly significant. My proposals for the city of Seoul to host a football match between the North and South and for the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra to hold a performance in Pyongyang were small efforts to preserve the spirit enshrined in the October 4 Joint Declaration, achieve greater exchange and cooperation, and recover our national homogeneity.
Unification, peace, and shared prosperity are the fundamental conditions for a sustainable future for all of us. Furthermore, they are our responsibility to our nation—a responsibility thrust upon us by the times in which we live. No political or economic interests can diminish that responsibility. While fulfilling this duty, how we choose to view our counterpart is of particular importance. In the situation in Northeast Asia, where the stakes are incredibly high, it is foolish to regard the North as an enemy against whom we must fight.
Today is a day to remember the deep significance of the Joint Declaration between the North and South, and we must, once again, stand at the starting line. We must put an end to the destruction and the era of the Cold War, to conflict and confrontation, and bring security to the lives of Seoul’s citizens and the Korean people through peace and exchange. To achieve this end, I hope we find the strength to consolidate our wisdom, determination, courage, and faith towards a united goal. I believe that the river of history will flow through the channels of shared prosperity and peace for the two Koreas. Thank you.