Asean should continue to help bring peace by embracing North Korea: Moon Jae-in

He said the world is skeptical of North Korea's intentions but he believes it's different this time.

Kayla Wong | July 13, 2018, 03:59 PM

Asean should continue to help bring peace to the region and on the Korean Peninsula by embracing North Korea into the regional community, says South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

This can help North Korea become a responsible member of the international community.

He made these remarks at a lecture titled "Republic of Korea and Asean: Partners for achieving peace and co-prosperity in East Asia" in Singapore's Orchard Hotel on Friday, July 13.

The event was part of the Singapore Lecture series in which world leaders give their take on global affairs.

Here's a summary of President Moon's speech regarding Asean's role in helping to bring in peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Asean has great diversity & is important to South Korea 

Praising Asean for its "diverse civilisations" that coexist peacefully, Moon said that Asean's peace has captured the world's attention.

He added that Asean is South Korea's partner for trade and economic development, and acknowledged the existing cultural exchanges between South Korea and Asean -- in Moon's hometown of Busan, there is an Asean culture house.

In light of the Asean region's significance, he has launched the 'New Southern Policy' in November 2017 to not only deepen ties with the region, but to also diversify its trade relations.


Asean has helped North Korea be involved in the international community 

Moon said that Asean has encouraged the North to give up its nuclear programme and choose the path towards peace and prosperity.

The Asean Regional Forum (ARF) is the only multilateral forum North Korea takes part in, and has been helping to facilitate dialogue between North Korea and the international community.

Asean has also supported economic cooperation between the two Koreas by affording the same tariff benefits received by South Korean goods under the Korean-Asean Free Trade Agreement to goods produced in their jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex.

He added:

"When international sanctions against the North are lifted, once North Korea carries out complete denuclearisation, the once-vibrant economic cooperation between North Korea and Asean will be revived again."

Progress made towards North Korea's denuclearisation

Moon, introducing himself as the son of North Korean refugees, also listed the achievements that have been made towards North Korea's path towards peace and denuclearisation.

He said both the Panmunjom Declaration and Joint Statement have allowed change to the course of history and dismantled the last vestiges of the Cold War, adding that both the U.S. and South Korea have witnessed North Korea's participation at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and inter-Korea meetings.

He is also confident that with the "rock solid" alliance between South Korea and the U.S., the issue can be resolved.

In addition, he said that normalisation of relations between North and South Korea will lead to normalisation of relations with the U.S. and Japan.

However, the process of peace is not possible without active engagement with North Korea.

This is because for North Korea to be a responsible member of the international community, the latter has to embrace them.

North Korea's denuclearisation possible with everyone's help

Regarding North Korea's denuclearisation process, Moon said that while the road to transforming North Korea is narrow and steep, the goal can be attained if the agreements at the summit are implemented with sincerity.

He said:

"If North Korea carves out specific implementation measures for denuclearisation and if South Korea and U.S. respond quickly with corresponding comprehensive measures, the process will move faster.


If Chairman Kim (Jong-un) keeps the promise of denuclearisation, he will be able to lead his country into prosperity."

He also laid out an economic road map for both Koreas to build an economic community once Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions are rooted out.

He added during the Question and Answer session held later that while he knows that the world is skeptical of North Korea's intentions due to its past history of breaking promises it made to denuclearise, it is different this time round as it was the first time a North Korean leader and a sitting American president met face to face -- something thought to be a dream.