S.K. President Moon Jae In shares his vision for the Korean Peninsula

Samantha West, Feb. 26, 2019, 9:16 a.m.

President Moon Jae-in on Monday announced what he billed as his vision for a new "Korean Peninsula regime" as a second U.S.-North Korea summit approaches.

"We are the masters of the Korean Peninsula's destiny," Moon said according to the official translation. "We are now the ones turning the page of history from a time of suffering from colonization, war, division and Cold War rivalry to a time when we lead an era of peace and prosperity."

"Standing at the center of history, not the periphery, we will take the lead in preparing for a new Korean Peninsula regime -- one that is moving from war and confrontation toward peace and harmony and from factionalism and ideology toward economic prosperity," he added.

While thin on detail, Moon vowed to pursue greater inter-Korean economic cooperation following the U.S.-North Korea summit. "If the North Korean economy opens up, neighboring countries, international organizations and global capital will join in its development," he claimed. "In this process, we should not lose the initiative either." 

In a telephone call with U.S. President Donald Trump last week, Moon offered to spearhead cross-border economic cooperation in a move critics condemned as an unsolicited offer to shoulder the cost of any deal the U.S. reaches.

Cheong Wa Dae is keen to reopen the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was shut down after a North Korean nuclear test in 2016, as well as tours to Mt. Kumgang, which were halted in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean tourist.

That will require easing sanctions against North Korea, which remain firmly in place. Yet Moon in his address made no mention of North Korea's denuclearization, which must precede any economic cooperation.

Instead he praised the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, while downplaying fears that their summit will turn into another empty photo op like their last meeting in Singapore.

"President Trump is personally spearheading diplomacy toward North Korea with his bold determination and new diplomatic strategies in order not to repeat past failures in diplomatic efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," he claimed.

"I also applaud [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un's resolve to move toward the future from the past by choosing economic development over nuclear arms," he added.

"Even after overcoming difficulties to get this far, some people are still displeased with improvements in inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. relations and are trying to drag them down. I urge all of them to discard such biased perspectives, and let's do our best to seize the opportunity approaching us."

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