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Legacy of President Moon Jae-in(6)
chungheesoo

 

He came to give the country back to the people

 

Joseph H. Chung (정희수), Ph.D. Professor of Economics at Quebec University in Montreal (UQAM)

 

(지난 호에 이어)

 

Right after this, Mr.  Chung Eui-yong, National Security Director and Suh Hoon, Chief of the National Information Service (NIS) went to Washington to communicate Pyongyang's intention. This was the opening of the series of summits which gave the world the hope of peace on the Korean peninsula.

 

President Moon met Kim Jung-un met twice in Panmunjom (April 27, 2018 and May 26, 2018) and once in Pyongyang on September 18-20, 2018. These three summits have led to the demilitarization of the Western coast, the Eastern coast along with the Joint Security Area (JSA) in DMZ. It was agreed that as far as the two Koreans were concerned, the Korean War was over.

 

In both Koreas, the hope of the reunification was rising. In Pyongyang, president Moon was greeted on September 19, 2018 by 150,000 North Koreans at the historical Mass games. President Moon declared "We have been united for 5,000 years but separated for 70 years. Let us reunite!"

 

It was highly emotionally charged declaration. Most of North Koreans who were there cried with hope of ending the nightmare of the separation imposed by foreign powers.

 

This hope was followed by the unexpected reaction of President Donald Trump of the U.S. who met Kim Jung-un three times: Singapore (June 12, 2018), Hanoi (February 27-28, 2019) and Panmunjom (DMZ) (June 30, 2019).

 

There were four items agreed upon at the Singapore summit which attract our attention, namely, new Pyongyang-Washington relations, lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, complete denuclearization and the recovery of POW/MIA remains.

 

None of these agreements was practical enough; they were mere statement of possibilities. But, the recovery and the repatriation of POW/MIA remains were done. Moreover, the joint military exercises were made less extensive and less threatening.

 

For the Hanoi summit, Kim Jung-un travelled six thousand kilo meters to show his sincerity of effectuating denuclearization. But, President Trump broke the Summit after having consulted a piece of paper presented by John Bolton who was known to be the most anti-peace in the Korean peninsula.

 

We do not know if President Trump was really interested in creating peace in the Korean peninsula. But, he came to Panmunjom on June 30, 2019 to shake hand with Kim Jung-un.

 

It is true that the Kim-Moon summits and the Kim-Trump summits have not been able to assure denuclearization despite the sincere wish of North Korea to exchange denuclearization with peace and economic development.

 

However, President Moon has left the following legacies.

 

First, through the mediation of President Moon, the world realized that Kim Jung-un was bona fide leader to whom one can talk and that North Koreans were normal people like any other people.

 

Second, the world saw that the blood and cultural bond of North-South was above ideology and politics.

 

Third, the North-South peace process and economic cooperation are feasible, if there were no outside interference.

 

Fourth, despite the failure of the denuclearization and persistence of sanctions, for three years, there were no nuclear tests or major missile launching until the Yoon Suk-yeol took over the power in May 2022.

 

Fifth, the only feasible way to assure peace on the Korean peninsula, promote North-South economic cooperation and eventual reunification of Koreas is to carry out the North-South peace process by Koreans without being unduly influenced by foreign powers.

 

7. Innovative Foreign Policy

Before President Moon took over the power in 2017, Korean foreign policy had been confined to relations with countries which were directly related to the issues of the Korean peninsula. It was the first time that Korea began to undertake diplomacy with countries which were far from the Korean peninsula and Korean affairs.

 

To be more precise, President Moon undertook actively his Northern policy and Southern Policy. For his Southern policy, he visited with a large delegation of business community to each of the ASEAN countries which were becoming more and more visible in international affairs. The objective was not only the trade promotion but also Korea's active political leadership in South East Asian region.

 

Owing to President Moon's productive diplomacy, as pointed above, Korea's exports to the Asian countries rose from USD 134.6 billion in 2016 to USD 206.3 billion in 20201, an increase by 53.2%.

 

Moreover, President Moon was not only respected but also liked by the leaders of ASEAN countries. During the ASEAN Summit held in Busan on November 25, 2021, the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, called President Moon as "hyung-nim" which is the affectionate way calling a respected person; it means "my elder brother". This shows the warm leadership and the personal charm of President Moon.

 

For the first time in modern Korean history of foreign relations, President Moon actively pursued diplomatic relations with the Northern countries which are the center of the Eurasian Economic Community. President Moon visited each of the northern countries including Russia, Belarus, Mongol, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Rumania, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. These countries will be at the centre of the largest economic bloc.

 

President Moon being aware of importance of these countries visited them and he was successful in promoting trade. As shown above, Korean exports to these countries rose from USD 7.2 billion in 2016 to USD 14.1 billion in 2021, an increase of 95.8%.

 

With President Moon, Korean diplomacy has become more autonomous and avoided being a mere cheer leader of the diplomacy of the U.S. or Japan.

 

The leadership of President Moon has allowed Korea to play significant leadership in international affairs.

 

In 2019, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) promoted Korea from the status of "developing country" to the status of "developed country".

 

It was the first time that UNCTAD promoted developing country to the status of developed country since it was established in 1963. Moreover, for last three years, Korea was invited as observer to G7 summit meetings.

 

There is no doubt that President Moon has shown us the courage and the wisdom of pursuing sovereign diplomacy without unduly hurting the interests of major powers which are involved in Korean affairs. (다음 호에 계속)

 

 

 

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