Park Geun-hye on North-South relations



In earlier posts we reviewed the positions of South Korean presidential candidates Ahn Cheol-soo and Moon Jae-in toward North Korea. In August of 2011, Park Geun-hye got our attention by publishing a relatively dovish statement in Foreign Affairs. In this post we reproduce a major speech on foreign policy and North-South relations given yesterday by the Saenuri Party candidate. She introduces the concept of “Trustpolitik” in the context of her broader vision of a “New Korea” which takes a more prominent and activist position in world affairs. Among the points of particular interest:

  • Moving toward the middle, Park explicitly states the need to get beyond both “appeasement” and “hardline postures.”
  • Park makes the ritual invocation of the need to deter provocations, but then turns to engagement diplomacy, including bilateral and Six Party negotiations. She adds a number of multilateral twists, including:
    • a trilateral “strategic dialogue” with China and the US;
    • trilateral development consultations involving South Korea, and North Korea, China, and Russia separately;
    • an initiative for a “Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative” which she likens to the Helsinki process.
    • A vision of a more economically integrated Northeast Asia through a “Eurasian” “Silk Road” initiative that would link the transportation grid in the region with Europe.
  • Park also reiterates the principle that humanitarian assistance should be separated from politics. But she also notes that “it is important to actively utilize key international organizations including the WHO, UNICEF and the WFP.” This could signal a shift away from bilateral assistance toward multilateral efforts.
  • Park talks about resuming a range of diplomatic, social and cultural exchanges with the North, including the standbys like family visits. She also proposes the creation of “South-North Exchange and Cooperation Offices” in Seoul and Pyongyang.
  • Going beyond Obama's willingness to "negotiate with adversaries," Park explicitly states a willingness to meet Kim Jong-un.

Not clear that the North Koreans will reciprocate, however.  KCNA responded in part "The present demeanor of Park undoubtedly indicates that she will follow in the footsteps of the "yusin" dictator who turned South Korea into a tundra of democracy and human rights and got crazy for north-south confrontation and a war against the north, hell-bent on sycophancy toward the U.S., treachery and fascist rule." Take that.



Trustpolitik and the Making of a New Korea

By Park Geun-hye

Presidential Candidate

Saenuri Party

November 15, 2012


Dear Fellow Citizens,


I have made a solemn pledge to the Korean people.

To rebuild our nation where all Koreans are truly happy and united, the making of a “New Korea” based on trust and peace, and a Korea that transcends mistrust and conflicts.

But the day when our land is unified,that is when we will truly become one.

A Korea where Koreans across the land are happy and free;

A Korea that contributes to a safer and more prosperous Asia;

A Korea that gains respect because of its contributions to the betterment of mankind.

These are the faces of a “New Korea” that I dream about.

As we embark in the making of a “New Korea” what we need most is abiding trust.

Trust amongst ourselves;

Trust between the South and the North;

And trust with the international community.

The future of the Korean Peninsula over the next five years hangs on the balance of the visions and policies we choose to implement.

Now more than ever, we need the wisdom and courage of our people to transform crises into opportunities. Now more than ever, we need the convictions of a new leader.

It is upon these beliefs that I would like to share with you the guidelines of my foreign, national security, and unification policies.

First, I will endeavor to build a sustainable peace.

I will steadfastly defend our national security. And based on trust and cooperation I will work towards augmenting a sustainable peace.

North Korea must forswear provocations.

It must become a responsible of the international community. It must elevate the livelihoods of its people not through the development of nuclear weapons; but through economic progress.

We have to also create an environment so that North Korea can make the right choice.

Our North Korea policy has to also evolve. We have to move beyond the paradigm of appeasement or hardline postures. I will pursue a more balanced “Alignment Policy” towards the North.

The positive elements of past policies should be sustained while improving aspects that need to be revised. We have to pursue and implement a transparent policy and one that garners wide-ranging public support.

Second, I will pursue a diplomacy that induces trust.

Our overall capabilities have grown to the brink of becoming one of the world’s10th largest economies. All the more reason to safeguard our core interests at a time of unparalleled turbulence across the world.

We have to pursue a more nimble foreign policy that also elevates national pride.

Korea must be in the forefront of helpingto resolve key global issues. When a “Responsible Korea” assumes its rightful role,the world will embrace us with renewed respect.

And such a Korea will trigger greater support fromthe international community vis-à-vispeace on the peninsula and South-North unification.

Third, I will prepare for unification where all of the stakeholders can be happy.

We have to work towards unification thatis underpinned by our people’s trust, welcomed by the international community, and where all Koreans across the peninsula have the right to pursue happier lives.

Unification cannot be postponed far into the future. For we cannot wait for unification to happen; we must shape unification so that it will happen.

My Fellow Koreans,

As we work together to open a new era on the Korean Peninsula, I will implement the following policies.

First, my highest priority will be placed on safeguarding our nation’s sovereignty and national security.

It goes without saying that the making of a “New Korea”is impossible when the lives of our citizens are undert hreat and when our sovereignty is under attack.

I will not stand for a second Cheonan attack or bombing of Yeonpyong island.

I will never allow any provocations alongthe NLL that has been secured through the ultimate sacrifice of our soldiers.

In order to deter North Korean provocationsI will strengthen comprehensively ourmilitary capabilities together with a strong ROK-U.S. alliance.I will ensure that we fully prepare for OPCONscheduled for December 2015.

In order to mitigate conflicting policies, Ipropose to set up a “Control Tower” that oversees and coordinates our foreign, national security, and unification policies. Such a step will ensure a crisis management system that is second to none.

Second, I will endeavor to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem based on deterrence and multi-faceted negotiations.

A nuclearized North Korea can never be accepted.

I will strengthen our deterrence capabilities in order to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats.

At the same time, I will pursue tangible consultations with the North in order to resolve the nuclear problem. I will also work to provide new momentum to the Six Party Talks that have remained dormant for the past several years.

It is essential that North Korea abides by previous agreements and to this end, I will deepen consultations with thecountries concerned.

Moreover, I would like to propose a trilateral strategic dialogue among Korea, the United States, and China. Expanding cooperation with the UN and the EU and the broader international community is also critical.

In order to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem it is important to conceptualize the problem from a broader perspective.

Progress in South-North relations should be pursued simultaneously with enhancing cooperation within Northeast Asia. Pursuant to forward movement in denuclearization commensurate political, economic, and diplomatic steps will be taken.

Third, I will normalize South-North relations through a “trust process”on the Korean Peninsula.

In order to fundamentally overcome conflicts on the Korean Peninsula trust is a vital ingredient.

Mutually reinforcing political-military confidence building measures combined with social and economic exchange and cooperation, can lead to the normalization of South-North relations and the forging of a more enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

If trust is to materialize between the South and the North, however, promises that have already been made must be honored. I will continue to sustain the spirit of peace and mutual respect that are enshrined in existing agreements and tailor specific aspects to prevailing conditions.

Maintaining diverse and open channels of communication is essential in order to deepen trust. If it helps to foster South-North relations, I will also meet with the North Korean leader.

Humanitarian problems should continue to be addressed and separated with political circumstances.Transparent assistance to the North is essential in orderto enable basic standards of living for North Korean citizens.

In this regard, I believe it is important to actively utilize key international organizations including the WHO, UNICEF and the WFP.

Priority assistance must be provided to infants and young children as outlined in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) together with support for other highly-vulnerable populations.

It is also critical to bring to closure the plight of our separated families. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of division.

It’s time to end their plight.

On top of regularized meetings of separated families and verification of surviving family members, it is important to complete the project on video message exchanges of the elderly.

It is also paramount that our remaining POWs in the North and kidnapped South Koreans must be reunited with their families as soon as possible.

I will also upgrade reciprocally-based South-North economic cooperation and social-cultural exchanges.

Efforts geared towards improving the livelihood of North Korean citizens should be streamlined including medical and health services, agriculture, forestation, climate change, and green growth. Internationalizing the Kaesong Free Industrial Zone and joint development of underground resources will also be pursued.

Restoring national cohesion is essential through more fruitful academic and religious exchanges in addition to other diverse social and cultural exchanges. In this respect, South-North youth exchanges must be actively supported since such efforts cannot but expand mutual understanding.

In tandem with institutionalizing and sustaining inter-Korean economic cooperation and social and cultural exchanges, I will also work towards setting up a “South-North Exchange and Cooperation Office” in Seoul and Pyongyang.

On the basis of expanding trust and progress in denuclearization, I will begin to implement “Vision Korea Projects” leading ultimately towards the building of an economic community on the Korean Peninsula.

Given the need to improve North Korea’s economic self-capacity, it is important to provide assistance in the fields of electric power, transportation, communication, and other infrastructure projects.

Support will also be provided to enable North Korea to gain membership in international financial institutions and to attract foreign investments. South Korea’s participation in the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone will also be explored.

In order to enhance common interests and peace-building efforts on the Korean Peninsula, trilateral South-North-Russian and South-North-Chinese cooperation will be enhanced.

Specifically, greater attention will be paid to participating in the sustained development of Russia’s Far Eastern region and China’s three Northern Provinces. Cooperation with international organizations is also essential.

Through such a process of trust-building on the Korean Peninsula, I am convinced that we can succeed in fostering sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula that in turn, can serve as a conduit for unification.

Fourth, I will work towards “smaller” to progressively “bigger” unification.

By mitigating military conflicts based on a more tangible peace, I will place priority in building an economic community or what I refer to as “smaller” unification. Ultimately, as political integration proceeds, we can then move towards “bigger” unification.

The most important element along the unification pathway lies in fostering national consensus.

As such, we will continue to embrace but also upgrade the “Korean National Commonwealth Unification Formula” based on a free and democratic order. I will also ensure the implementation of a consistent unification policy.

It is also necessary to augment international support for unification. While broadening the international community’s support for unification through more active unification diplomacy, I will also emphasizethe fact that unification is also aligned with the interests of the neighboring states.

The penultimate objective of unification is to ensure that all Koreans across the peninsula can be happy.

This is why we can no longer stand idle over the continued suffering of the North Korean people who will, after all, join us in opening the roadway towards unification.

We have to pass a “North Korean human rights bill” in order to significantly improve North Korea’s humanitarian and human rights conditions. To this end, I will continue to address these issues in consort with the international community.

We will renew our efforts to support and to protect North Korean refugees who left North Korea in search of freedom.

And I will also strengthen cooperation with the UNHCR and the broader international community to prevent forced repatriations of North Korean refugees residing outside of North Korea.

As we approach an era of more than 30,000 North Korean refugees who have resettled in the Republic of Korea, I will strengthen our resettlement infrastructure and pursue more tailored support programs in order to enable them to flourish to their fullest potential.

Moreover, we will invigorate the 7 million strong global network of Koreans so that they too can participate in the journey towards unification and thereby enable them to deepen their ties with their homeland.

Fifth, we will lead the way in fostering peace in East Asia and Eurasian cooperation.

The East Asian order is in the midst of tectonic shifts. In our region, military competition as well as historical and territorial tensions are on the rise.

With regard to Northeast Asia’s worsening historical conflict, I will respond firmly on the basis of our core national interests. Under no circumstances can we allow infringements on our sovereignty.

Nonetheless, I also believe that in order to lay a firmer foundation for a correct understanding of history in Northeast Asia, the governments and civic societies of Korea, China, and Japan shouldcontinue to sustain their efforts for reconciliation and cooperation.

A harmonious and cooperative relationship between the United States and China is indispensable for peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

The ROK-U.S. relationship will be strengthened and expanded into a comprehensive, strategic alliance. Korea’s ties with China will be upgraded commensurate with our strategic cooperative partnership.

In order to ensure sustainable peace and prosperity in East Asia and in tandem with such objectives, I have proposed a “Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative.”

All of the stakeholders that have a critical interest in the preservation of peace and security in Northeast Asia should elevate cooperation in the areas of confidence building and common security, economic and social cooperation, and human security.

Such a development can be seen as the starting point of a “Seoul Process” or an Asian variant of Europe’s “Helsinki Process.”

We will work in unison with our partners in Northeast and East Asia to respond more effectively to such critical issues as nuclear safety, climate change, natural disasters, and other issues of mutual concern.

In particular, we have to consider a suitable mechanism that enhances nuclear safety in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident and continuing concerns related to North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

Our Asian diplomacy must function as a springboard for accelerated cooperation. To this end, I will strengthen our strategic partnership with members of ASEAN, India, Australia and other emerging economic powers.

I believe that strengthening Eurasian economic cooperation is a critical task. Building upon Russia’s “Look East” policy andbuttressing the importance of Central Asia and the EU, it is possible not only to create new markets, but to also usher in a new momentum by linking these two continental economic spheres.

Activating such cooperation requires integrated transportation and energy grids in addition to environment-friendly collaboration.

In this regard, we have to build a trans-continental logistics network that links Northeast Asia with Eurasia through a more cohesive transportation grid. This is possible by connecting the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR), the Trans-Chinese Railway (TCR), and the Trans-Korean Railway (TKR).

Indeed, ten years ago I spoke out on this very subject by emphasizing that “we have to open a 21st Century Eurasian era by connecting the European and Asian continents.”

I believed then and with even greater conviction today that if economic cooperation can be elevated significantly between the two Koreas and neighboring states, it will also expedite East Asia’s regional economic integration.

This is because such efforts will bolster peace and spur economic growth in the region. Over the longer term, I am confident that a “Silk Road Express (SRX)” will one day connect the Korean Peninsula, Russia, China, Central Asia and Europe.

In the same vein, we will continue to pursue on-going consultations on building a gas pipeline and related power grids in order to diversify Korea’s energy supplies and encourage the building of an integrated Northeast Asian energy system.

Finally, we will also participate actively in the development of new Arctic routes.

Sixth, I will upgrade economic diplomacy and excavate new growth opportunities.

In order to respond more effectively to potential global economic crises, I will endeavor to strengthen East Asia’s financial safety net. At the same time, I believe it is also essential to pinpoint key agendas for future cooperation through the G-20 that are tailored to building more responsible capitalism.

International cooperation should be strengthened to upgrade renewable energy supplies and propelling green growth. We have to also revise the outdated ROK-U.S. nuclear energy cooperation agreement and actively support nuclear power plant exports as a major driver of future economic growth.

I will also work towards providing greater overseas employment opportunities for our youths and women including international organizations. These efforts should comprise an integral part of our foreign policy.

Seventh, opening a new era of “Public Diplomacy”commensurate with building an “Attractive Korea.”

We can no longer ignore problems that are besetting our common world.

We have to take the lead in resolving such critical issues as climate change, poverty, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, human rights, and many others. Thus, I believe we should lead and broaden efforts to enable key middle powers to increase their contributions for the global commons.

As a new member of the U.N. Security Council, Korea should also advance international peacekeeping endeavors.

Songdo, Incheon was recently chosen to house the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Korea is already host to Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). All the more reason to spearhead Incheon as a global cooperation hub.

At the same time, I will earnestly work towards a tailored diplomatic effort to attract international organizations in six major cities including Busan and Gwangju.

Korea is one of the world’s model countries that achieved rapid economic growth coupled with successful democratization.

I believe that by sharing our developmental experiences and know-how with the world’s developing economies, we can provide assistance so that they can chart their own paths to development. Such a move would mark another step forward in expanding our contributions to the international community.

By emphasizing development cooperation that can be a model for the international community, we will enlarge our ODA contributions commensurate with global norms.

And part and parcel of such efforts, we will work towards creating an integrated and more efficient international development cooperation structure.

Together with the Korean people, we will build a more “Attractive Korea.”

Through more concerted public diplomacy efforts, all of our citizens can become roving diplomats and act as conduits for sharing our experiences, culture, and knowledge with a wider global community.

I will also actively support cultural diplomacy so that our artisans and cultural figures can more effectively promote Korea’s national heritage throughout the world.

Korea’s biggest asset is our innovative youth who are becoming increasingly aware of the problems confronting our planet. And it is imperative to back them up so that they can reach their dreams but to also remind them to share the fruits of their success with others.

This is what I mean by our “K-Move” initiative that will be buttressed by a “Global Youth Project.”

Hardened by new experiences and working directly in development programs, Korea’s young leaders will be able to emerge as “Global Citizens.” And through matching educational and training programs they will be able to serve as regional development experts across the world.

In this respect, I believe it is critical to provide equal opportunities to all of our youth regardless of their economic status, whether they are resettled North Korean refugees, or children from multicultural families.

For each and every one of them have the right to become global leaders and experts. We cannot and we will not disappoint them.

In an era where more than 130 million Koreans are travelling abroad, it is essential to ensure the protection and welfare of our citizens residing overseas. I will significantly strengthen our consular services and consultations with the countries concerned.

Overseas Koreans are a critical national asset.

I will expand Korean language programs for the next generation so that they can maintain their national identities and ties with their homeland. Specifically, I will explore optimal support measures such as providing EBS educational contents to worldwide Korean language schools.

My Fellow Citizens,

Let us jointly usher in a new era of peace and reconciliation.

Let us leave behind the legacies of division and mistrust.

Let us work towards the making of a “New Korea” on the heels of our economic achievements and democratization.

We need a new leadership that understands clearly the forces that surrounds us.

We need a transformative leadership that leads change.

Let us jointly open a bold new frontier on the Korean Peninsula.

Thank you very much.

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