The 7th Year Anniversary Speech of October 4th North-South Joint Declaration
Date October 4th, 2014 | Venue Grand Ballroom in the 63 Building
Hello, everyone. I am Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul. Honorable Director of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation Lee Hae-chan and distinguished guests, thank you for your attendance.
Next year will be the 70th year of the independence of Korea. Over the past 70 years, we have lived amidst a cold war paradigm filled with conflicts, enmities, threats, and insecurity caused by a long period of national division. On June 15, 2000, however, the North-South Korean summit was held, a historical moment that showed North-South Korea relations can be improved to relations of peace and cooperation. Seven years ago, on October 4th, the North-South Joint Declaration heralded the end of confrontation between North Korea and South Korea, and the possibility of establishing a permanent peace regime became real.
Nevertheless, since the sinking of ROKS Cheonan in 2010, North-South Korea relations have remained so dire that no one can predict with any certainty the future of our relations. This is surely a great misfortune to us. The unification of Korea is the need of our people, our history, and the times for the peace and future on the Korean Peninsula.
Unification cannot be achieved in a day. It will be realized only when North Korea and South Korea have continual communication, exchanges, and trust built over time on a nonpolitical and nonmilitary level.
I think local governments should be able to exchange with North Korea proactively. Through the Seoul city administration, I have consistently emphasized the cooperation of the government with the private sector. I still believe that the national government, local governments, and the private sector should advance together as one for diplomacy, security, and unification.
Many Koreans want to learn from the unification of Germany. Many, however, think the unification of Germany was made in a day; it was not.
Germany pursued the New Eastern Policy consistently even through regime changes. Based on a consistent policy, continual exchanges, and cooperation, they were able to establish trust, and achieved de facto unification prior to actual legal unification. This was possible because the exchanges among cities of East and West Germany worked very effectively.
In 1985, the governor of Saarland in West Germany visited East Germany. At that time, the chancellor of East Germany was Honecker, who was born in Saarland, West Germany. This resulted in the first twin city relationship between East and West Germany, and 62 cities followed suit. From urban issues such as traffic systems among cities, housing, and environmental pollution, to sports and cultural events, East and West Germany exchanged and cooperated with each other. After four years of consistent efforts, the Berlin Wall was finally demolished in 1989.
It is accordingly time for us to change the fundamental paradigm through which we view the role of local governments in security and foreign policies on the North-South Korea relations. In consideration of the important roles of German local governments and NGOs, Korean local governments also need to serve a crucial role in exchanges and cooperation projects with North Korea. For peace and unification, the ruling party and the opposition party should not be divided, nor should the national government and local governments. I strongly believe that extensive exchanges and cooperation among local governments will contribute to the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Since being inaugurated as the mayor of Seoul in 2011, I have suggested sports and cultural exchanges with Pyongyang, including the resumption of suspended soccer matches with Pyongyang, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra concerts in Pyongyang. I have also suggested other exchange projects such as joint history research projects, urban planning cooperation, and economic cooperation projects modeled on the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.
By building up mutual trust based on the participation and exchanges between Seoul and Pyongyang citizens, I believe we can get closer to the unification of Korea. Taking trust as a cornerstone, Seoul will do its best to implement and realize a cooperative development plan for post-unification.
There are still many challenges before us in rebuilding the mutual trust and the peace regime born by the October 4th Declaration. Seven years ago, the two Korean summits promised to build mutual trust and respect through the Joint Declaration. However, much effort and patience are required to regain the spirit of the October 4th Declaration; we must understand each other as one Korean people.
Although the former presidents of Korea Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, leading the June 15th Declaration and the October 4th Declaration respectively, are not with us anymore, we witnessed and experienced the age of peace and reconciliation with them, and we still remember those overwhelming moments filled with bright hope.
We still remember former president Kim Dae-jung’s solid determination that he would create a country where freedom flows like a river, democracy blooms like wild flowers, and the dream of unification appears like a rainbow.
We also remember what the former president Roh Moo-hyun said before crossing over the Military Demarcation Line, “As President of Korea, I am crossing this forbidden line. After my visit, more people will visit North Korea. Then, finally, this forbidden line will be gone.”
Next year will be the 70th year of the independence of Korea. After such a long period of being divided, there are more differences between the two countries than similarities. Looking back on Korean history, there have always been moments where unification has been possible. We need to realize, however, that we do not have much time left for improving North-South Korea relations and achieving unification.
It is time to work for the peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula with the spirit of the October 4th North-South Joint Declaration. Let’s move forward together. Thank you.