Foundation Day elicits varied hopes by parties

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Foundation Day elicits varied hopes by parties


Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon leads cheers to celebrate the 4,350th National Foundation Day at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in central Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

South Korean political parties on both ends of the spectrum commemorated National Foundation Day on Wednesday with words of peace and prosperity - but spoke of the North Korea nuclear issue in different tones.

Liberal parties mostly referred to inter-Korean relations on a positive note, stressing that permanent peace on the peninsula was near as both Koreas were building a rapport. Conservative parties urged the North to fully and irreversibly relinquish its nuclear weapons.

National Foundation Day, also known as gaecheonjeol, is celebrated on Oct. 3 in both the South and North to mark the establishment of the first Korean kingdom, Gojoseon, in 2333 B.C. The holiday is considered the founding date of the Korean race.

Rep. Park Kyung-mee, a spokeswoman of the ruling progressive Democratic Party, said in a statement that this year’s National Foundation Day was more meaningful due to better prospects of establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, adding that 70 years of conflict with the North was “relieved at once.”

Park said that the two countries were on a journey to become one again.

The lawmaker mentioned how the North Korean leadership has “changed” and how the North Korean people were looking forward to “change,” adding that those circumstances induced the Democratic Party to feel it isn’t long before both Koreas celebrate National Foundation Day together.

On U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit to Pyongyang, Park said the party hoped both sides “open their hearts” and talk candidly.

Rep. Yoon Young-seok, a spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said in a statement that the two Koreas should reunify under the South’s free democratic system and urged North Korea’s complete denuclearization.

Rep. Kim Sam-hwa of the center-right Bareunmirae Party said it was every Korean’s wish to establish a peace regime on the peninsula through North Korea’s irreversible denuclearization.

On domestic affairs, Kim said her party would mainly work on issues related to employment, real estate and small businesses.

Kim Jeong-hyeon, spokesman of the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace, lauded this year’s summits between the Koreas and the United States, saying the ambience of peace, cooperation and reconciliation has never been stronger, and that the three countries should use the momentum to strive forward.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said the two Koreas have started a “bold journey” to achieve co-prosperity by establishing permanent peace and wiping nuclear weapons from the peninsula, underscoring that the Moon Jae-in administration was in the process of ending the world’s last vestige of the Cold War.

North Korea, Lee stressed, was willing to give up its nuclear weapons for peace and prosperity.

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