Park reaches out a hand to North

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Park reaches out a hand to North

In celebration of Liberation Day, President Park Geun-hye yesterday issued a proposal to North Korea requesting that its delegates join the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, slated for October in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, as an initial step toward conserving the peninsula’s ecosystem.

For peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia’s joint prosperity, North Korea should become a “responsible member” of the international community by stepping away from its self-imposed isolation, the president noted in a national speech at the 69th Liberation Day event yesterday at Sejong Center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.

“South and North Koreas carrying out plausible businesses, thereby blending their own strengths and weaknesses, is an urgent task,” she said. “For this, both Koreas should open the smallest channels for meeting and communicating, through which they will understand each other and amalgamate their ways of thinking and living.”

Ecological cooperation is one action that should be taken in the early stages, according to the president, whose top policy agenda is unification. Jointly managing the rivers and mountains that traverse the Korean Peninsula will be part of that cooperation.

Park also encouraged more frequent meetings of the families from both sides separated during the 1950-53 Korean War and promised to boost humanitarian aid to improve the livelihoods of North Koreans.

In the longer term, Seoul is willing to share its knowledge concerning rapid economic progress and wants to mobilize the North’s ample underground resources and labor as a growth driver, she said. To better understand each other, both Koreas are encouraged to work on a cultural business linked to the excavation and preservation of cultural relics in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day next year, the president added.

In light of the hazards posed by nuclear plants, Park also proposed for the first time the formation of a Northeast Asian nuclear safety group, under the leadership of Korea, China and Japan, that would be modeled after the European Atomic Energy Community.

The Blue House explained later in the day that Korea wants to take the lead in developing the annual Top Regulators’ Meeting (TRM) on Nuclear Security with the three countries into a bigger international organization involving Russia and the United States, among other nuclear-armed nations.

However, the president did not fail to mention the strained relationship between Korea and Japan. Given that next year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, efforts to “heal the wounds from history still remaining” is necessary, she stressed.

Apparently taking aim at nationalist Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Park said, “Politics is about reading the minds of the people and choosing the right direction, but some Japanese politicians divide the minds of both countries and hurt them both.”

She said the Korean government has consistently urged Japanese leaders to acknowledge accurate historical perceptions.

The president also demanded that Tokyo adopt a forward-looking policy that the women forcibly recruited into military brothels during World War II by the Imperial Japanese Army could understand.

“I wish that next year will mark the beginning of a new future for both countries based on friendship and hope for Japanese political leaders’ ‘wisdom and determination,’” Park said.

Yesterday, Japan marked the 69th anniversary of its surrender to end World War II.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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