President Moon Jae-in stressed the need Monday to promote economic growth based on inter-Korean peace in order to counter external pressure, such as Japan's retaliatory trade restrictions.
He said the so-called peace economy is a way for South Korea to catch up with Japan economically.
"Going through the incident this time, we have been able to confirm the desperate need for the peace economy once again," he said during a weekly meeting with senior Cheong Wa Dae aides.
He was referring to Japan's measure to limit exports of major industrial items to South Korea in reprisal for historical issues related to its brutal colonization of Korea from 1910-45.
Last week, Tokyo removed Seoul from its "white list" of more than two dozen nations eligible for simplified customs procedures in buying strategically sensitive materials. Moon has characterized the move as part of Japan's attempt to prevent South Korea from further developing its economy.
"Japan can never block the leap of our economy," Moon said. Its export curbs will rather serve as a "catalyst" for South Koreans' resolve to build economic power, he added.
Moon pointed out that the Japanese economy is superior to South Korea's in size and domestic market. If a peace economy is realized through economic cooperation between the two Koreas, South Korea would overtake Japan at a stretch, Moon said.
Despite tumults in inter-Korean relations or Pyongyang-Washington talks, he added, South Koreans shouldn't be easily pessimistic about a peace economy or give up efforts toward it.
The president said South Korea, as a responsible member of the international community, will continue to abide by the "universal value of mankind and international norms."
Japan is facing massive criticism from the world for damaging free trade order, he said. (Yonhap)