Blue House book calls for ‘peace regime’

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Blue House book calls for ‘peace regime’

The Park Geun-hye government is willing to discuss with North Korea ending the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War and establishing “a peace regime” for reunification of the two Koreas, the presidential office said in a book released yesterday.

The book, entitled “National Security Strategy for a New Era of Hope,” was published by the powerful National Security Office (NSO) at the Blue House and released to reporters yesterday.

“If the two Koreas build up mutual trust in military affairs, we could strive for restricting military budgets,” the Korean-language book said. “If conditions mature, we could discuss establishing a peace regime [with North Korea].”

Transitioning from the armistice to a “peace regime system” was also proposed in some detail by the former Roh Moo-hyun administration, which released its “first plan for developing inter-Korean relations” in 2007.

According to that plan, the Roh government proposed three steps for unification of the peninsula: First, acknowledge the two different political systems of North and South Korea; secondly, take political and military measures to guarantee inter-Korean cooperation; finally, arrange conditions to effectively launch a peace regime through the building up of mutual trust.

The Roh administration proposed opening up the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone to the public after removing mines buried in the border region, which has been closed off for the past six decades.

The Roh’s detailed plan was not adopted by the Park Geun-hye administration. According to Park’s “second plan for developing inter-Korean relations” released in November 2013, her administration only pledged to “arrange conditions for establishing a peace regime effectively by building up mutual trust,” without citing specific steps.

In the book released yesterday, the NSO said some “small-scale trading or business cooperation,” such as agriculture or outsourcing of manufacturing, could be resumed between the two Koreas and civilian investment in inter-Korean projects would gradually be allowed.

All government- and civilian-led inter-Korean business has been halted (except for the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex ) under the so-called “May 24 measures,” economic sanctions on North Korea imposed by the Lee Myung-bak administration in the wake of the sinking of South Korea’s naval ship Cheonan in March 2010.

Chung Chong-wook, one of the two vice-chairmen of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation under the Blue House, which is chaired by President Park, also said yesterday that members of the committee were calling for a “transition” in current inter-Korean relations.

“Members of the committee are saying we need to make a transition,” Chung told reporters at a luncheon yesterday. “They say if the May 24 sanctions are not lifted, it would be hard to fundamentally improve current relations.”

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]




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