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Moon sets out regional peace vision, urges end to ideological rift

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a bipartisan approach to the North Korea issue, presenting his far-reaching and people-centered vision for regional peace and co-prosperity.

"From now on, the North-South issue should not be misused for ideological or political purposes; rather, it must be expanded into an issue of life and existence for ordinary people," he stressed in a special op-ed for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), according to an unofficial translation offered by his office, Cheong Wa Dae, on Tuesday.

This file photo, taken July 6, 2017, shows President Moon Jae-in delivering a speech in Berlin on his vision for permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

He contributed the piece to the German daily on the occasion of the second anniversary of his May 10 inauguration.

Among the keywords of the op-ed, titled "The Greatness of the Ordinary: Reflecting on the new world order," are peace, inclusiveness, cooperation and fairness.

Moon introduced his ambitious policy goal of promoting the EU-style cooperation in East Asia through denuclearization and improved Seoul-Pyongyang ties, dubbed the New Korean Peninsula Regime.

The envisioned regime means a "peace-driven economy" and "switching from the passive Cold War order to an active order in the pursuit of peace," he said.


"Peace linked to economic progress creates a peace-strengthening virtuous cycle," he said.

He took note of the nascent work by the two Koreas to reconnect their road and rail links, a fruit of his summit talks with the communist neighbor's leader, Kim Jong-un, last year.

Moon expressed hope that brisk inter-Korean exchanges will lead to the re-establishment of an "economic corridor" between East Asia and Eurasia.

"The day will come when people and goods can move by rail from Busan all the way to Berlin. The Republic of Korea, building on inter-Korean rapprochement, will be a facilitator of peace in Northeast Asia," he said.

If realized, he added, Korea will become a bridgehead from the sea to the Asian continent and a gateway from the mainland to the sea.

He cited Germany's experience in transforming the Iron Curtain into a greenbelt that runs north and south through the heart of Europe.

"In the same way, I expect that peace on the Korean Peninsula will not stop at the Demilitarized Zone, running east to west between the two Koreas but will spread beyond the Korean Peninsula to Northeast Asia and even as far as Europe," he said.

He underlined the power of a grassroots movement in fostering regional peace and unity, recalling the European Coal and Steel Community, established in 1952, to integrate relevant industries in Western Europe.

The blueprint for the European Union, it later served as the impetus for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"As these European examples show, inclusiveness is essential in international relations," Moon said, adding the European security order changed as the ordinary people actively pushed for the task of making peace and prodded their governments to do so.

Germany is indeed symbolic of Moon's peace initiative. He said, "The onset of the spring on the Korean Peninsula began in Berlin."

Moon followed the footsteps of former President Kim Dae-jung, a Nobel Peace laureate who made the 2000 Berlin Declaration, unveiling some details of his peace initiative during his own visit there in July 2017.

The liberal president started the op-ed with a story on Gwangju, 268 kilometers south of Seoul.

He described Gwangju as a city that symbolizes South Korea's contemporary history and "sacred ground" in its democratization.

In 1980, residents there staged the bloody May 18 democratic uprising against a military junta.

Today, Gwangju has become an advance base for his administration's efforts to create jobs via a social compromise program.

Under the so-called Gwangju-type model, Hyundai Motor agreed to build a car factory in the city and workers consented to receive about half the usual wages of those at other automobile factories in the nation. The central and regional governments plan to offer financial and welfare support packages to the employees.

"Gwangju-type job creation will serve as a critical turning point on the road toward our becoming an 'innovative, inclusive nation,'" Moon said.

Also, he said, the spirit of Gwangju in 1980 was well reflected in the massive nighttime street protests by citizens, using candlelight, in late 2016 and early 2017 against then President Park Geun-hye. It eventually led to the impeachment of Park involved in a corruption scandal.

"The current Korean Administration was born out of the yearnings expressed by the Candlelight Revolution," Moon said. "I will never forget the will of the public, wishing for a nation of justice and fairness."

Cheong Wa Dae said Moon's op-ed would be included in a collection of global leaders' editorials expected to be published by the FAZ around late May.(Yonhap)

Cho Kuyung-hee  edt@koreapost.com

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