© YONHAP NEWS
On July 8th, Chairman Ban attended the Global Diplomacy and Security Forum at the National Assembly hosted by the United Future Party. He was invited to give a keynote speech for the Members of the 21st National Assembly on global diplomacy and security. Specifically Chairman Ban shared his insights on South-North Korea relations, the US-ROK alliance, and the future of our country.
The diplomatic security surroundings around the Korean Peninsula have never been more complex and difficult. “You can refer to the current situation as being in the diplomatic security ‘labyrinth’,” said Chairman Ban. From the change in lifestyles due to COVID-19, to the insecure international multilateral system, we are standing at a critical point in history.
“The international society is falling apart from the top,” he exclaimed. The hegemony competition between the two power states, US and China, is inflicting on Korea’s security. Of late, South Korea has been invited to the G7 summit. “This is when we need wisdom,” he said. “What position to take amid the US-China hegemony contest will be a critical challenge for South Korea.”
Internally the escalating tension in South-North Korean relations is doubling the burden for us. Kim Yo Jung has not only bombed the joint liaison offices but has planned military action towards the South. Further provocations have been put off by Kim Jong Un but, “I couldn’t hide my disappointments at our government’s lukewarm response towards this issue,” pitied Chairman Ban, worried about future challenges.
Chairman Ban quoted the Latin phrase “Festina Lente” – make haste but slowly – as the mindset we need to address Korea’s issue. He urged the attendees to look back on the 75 years of reconciliation and conflict between the North and South, aequo animo. “We have gone astray from the fundamental principles of dealing with North Korea,” he warned. He reminded the Assembly members that the inter-Korea relationship is not only our national issue, but an agenda to be addressed within the international framework. “Trying to understand the North in our own ways, showing an image of advocacy, will only lead to us being dragged around by the North,” he stated.
The US has expressed its will to converse with North Korea, but a recent announcement by the North clearly suggests that they have no such intentions. With the election in November, US’s North Korean Policy may change accordingly, but the North Korean government has already lost the credit of the international society. Chairman Ban spoke out that the only way for Kim Jong Un to regain trust would be to declare denuclearization himself.
The fundamental knot to unravel is North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Unless the North gives up on its nuclear ambitions, further negotiations are unlikely to gain any results. The basic principles of ‘complete denuclearization’ stated in the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must be abided by. Chairman Ban urged the government to follow UN Security Council’s consistent sanctions against the North if there is no visible progress in North Korea’s denuclearization. “By pressuring consistent and collective sanctions on North Korea, we must draw out the change in North Korea’s behavior,” he said.
“The US-ROK alliance based on 1953 Mutual Defense Agreement has now developed into a ‘Value Alliance’; an alliance of countries sharing the same values as democracy, market economy, human rights and the rule of law.” Chairman ban repeatedly underscored the importance of the US-ROK alliance in his speech. The alliance is an integral part of South Korea’s security system, and the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula lead to the prosperity and freedom of its people. Chairman Ban showed his concerns on Trump administration’s commercialized view towards its allies and the Korean government’s inner negative voices about the US-ROK alliance.
“The grand prerequisite we require to overcome today’s diplomatic security challenges is to establish a bipartisan security strategy and to practise highly specialized policies,” he said. The government needs to establish a unilateral security policy instead of oscillating positions whenever the administration switches.
Besides national security, it is necessary to address COVID-19 solutions at the global level. Health crisis make up human security, and it is desirable that the international society including international organizations provide a comprehensive common solution. Korea’s experience on COVID response can assist the North and other neighboring states to overcome the crisis.
To conclude, Chairman Ban called on the Members of the Assembly to encompass climate change into their policies. He was deeply disappointed to witness how few climate related policies there were in United Future Party’s pledges during this the last April election. “The climate change is an agenda directly related to the destiny of our planet earth, the survival of the humanity from the past, present and to the future,” he claimed. He ended his speech by wishing the best for the 21st National Assembly Members.
Below is the translation of his speech:
This forum cannot be more appropriate, considering the momentous diplomacy and security challenges that lie ahead of us. You can refer to the current situation as being in the diplomatic security ‘labyrinth’. I hope this forum will be a chance to seek for the wisdom on how to escape out of this maze.
Tough challenges are surging from in and out of the country. I have started my service in 1970, 37 years in Korea, 10 years in the UN, and 3 years and a half as a half civil servant. 50 years have passed, but never has the diplomacy situation been more troublesome than today.
From President Park Chung hee to President Moon, there were 10 Presidents, undergoing through crises, but also moments of hope, joy and delight. Nevertheless, the current national and global circumstances are most complex and complicated.
Before the coronavirus I’ve been traveling around the world to attend global events, but now it is all suspended and I’m experiencing virtual meetings instead. The so-called ‘Untact’ lifestyle has replaced our daily lifestyle and we are all surviving alone with no one to back us up. Even after the COVID-19 goes away, I feel that life won’t be the same as before and that the ‘untact’ lifestyle will settle down as the ‘new normal’. We must all keep our eyes wide open for this change.
Historically, the world has been through many challenges such as the WWI, WWII, 1930s Great Depression, and the 1990s financial crisis. However, never has the entire universe been locked down in quarantine, shaking with fear and worries.
Internationally, multilateralism led by the UN, is under attack. It is the US, who has led the international society based on multilateralism, which is now condemning the UN and withdrawing from multilateral institutions. The United States, that puts human rights at the center of its heart has withdrawn from the Human Rights Council, and will withdraw from the WHO. Paris Agreement and JCPOA, were all led by the US, and now the United States is withdrawing from them. The international society is falling apart from the top to down.
Besides, the feud between China and the US is now expanding to be the global hegemony conflict.
The Trump administration has invited South Korea to September’s G7 Summit, along with Australia, India and Russia. Yes, we have been invited to the G7 before, but this time, we tend to think there might be something more. There are growing suspicions on whether the US is trying to surround China by making Korea, Australia, India and Russia stand on their side in the US-China hegemony game. Add to this, Japan is publically against the idea of South Korea joining the G7 summit. Recently US has invited us to the ‘Economic Prosperity Network’(EPN), which can be seen as an open pressure to make Korea take part in watching out for China.
This is when we need wisdom. What position to take amid the US-China hegemony contest will be a critical diplomacy and security challenge for South Korea. Yes, we need wisdom and a broader view indeed.
Last June 4th, Kim Yo Jong, the first vice director of the United Front Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, has warned us of the abrogation of South-North military agreements and the possibilities of hostile action toward South Korea for flying flyers over the Demarcation Line. Moreover they exploded the joint liaison offices, which is the symbol of South and North Summits.
Further provocations have been put off on Kim Jong Un’s words, but the military action plan that Kim Yo Jong had planned is a potential threat to the Korean Peninsula. I couldn’t hide my disappointments at our government’s lukewarm response towards this issue.
How to overcome this chaotic situation is the problem for the entire nation. It is not a matter of opposing parties, but a matter of our country’s fate and security. In this regard, I would like to say on few words for our future challenges.
First, we must keep the Latin phrase ‘Festina Lente’(make haste, slowly) in our minds.
Look back on the bright and dark sides of our North Korea policy with calmness and sobriety. Make good out of the rather evil current situation and especially reflect on the last 75 years of reconciliation and conflict between the North and South.
The South Korean government has never dealt with North Korea any easier, and the Moon administration in particular, has put in extra efforts to make visible improvement in South and North relations. Three summit meetings, including our visit to Pyeongyang, and three meet ups between the DPRK and US leaders.
On the surface, this is a historical moment indeed. However as a result; these efforts were no different from our previous administrations, in some ways even more deplorable.
Why this is so in short words, I believe is because we have gone astray from the principles of dealing with North Korea. We must keep in mind, that although the South and North relationship is our national issue, there are principles that we have to adhere to within the international framework. Trying to understand the North in our own ways, showing an image of advocacy, will only lead to us being dragged around by the North. Mutual respect, reciprocity must be kept at all times.
Although confusing and chaotic, our government needs to perceive the current situation as having returned to before the 4.27 Panmunjom Declaration and steadily resettle our strategy towards denuclearization.
The government needs to communicate with politic groups and professionals, and avoid from ideological biases and party logics. Demeanors like “One sincere devotion(一片丹心)’ will not solve international or national issues. If we put too much focus on ‘by ourselves’, the problem will be more challenging to solve.
North Korea’s denuclearization is not a national issue, but a problem to be handled within the international regime for international peace and security.
We are still rushing for end-of-war declaration, but such suggestions will not ring North Korea’s bell. Even if we do declare the termination of war, if North Korea turns everything back to the starting point it will mean nothing.
Few politicians in responsible positions are referring to the cease of the US-ROK joint military exercises and the reduction of the US Forces in Korea. I see these as careless solutions damaging the US-ROK alliance and threatening our security. There is no ‘once more’ in security. We must be prepared flawlessly at all times.
The US has shown will to communicate with DPRK but on July 4th, Choe Son-hui, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of DPRK, has declared that they will not seat face to face with US. As you can see, without the fundamental turnover in North Korea’s position, it is very unlikely that the US-DPRK conversation will take place before this November election.
Steve Biegun, the Deputy Secretary of States is visiting South Korea. Still I don’t have high hopes for mediation. The Trump administration has renewed its administrative order on continuing sanctions against North Korea.
Some say that there is a possibility of October Surprise, that Trump will resume US-DPRK summits for a turnover for the November election. But North Korea will also take the US election conditions into account so the possibilities don’t seem so high.
Now new Minister of Unification, Head of NIS, and a new Head of Security for the Cheongwadae will be appointed, and they will design a new roadmap. But do not rush, do not haste and beg North Korea.
We must take into consideration that with the election in November, the US’s North Korean policy may change accordingly. If Joe Biden takes hold, it is highly likely that there will be a key shift in North Korea policies. The Democratic Party will not adhere to the so-called ‘Strategic Patience’ plan as the Obama administration did, after watching North Korea’s conducts and the past US-DPRK summits.
North Korean government ought to acknowledge that provocations will earn them nothing, no matter how urgent their inner economic situation is with global sanctions and the COVID-19. North Korea has lost all credits from the international society. Untrustworthy agreement between leaders, pursuing promises without keeping the duty of good faith, is seeking the impossible. The only way to regain the trust of the international society is for Kim Jong Un to voluntarily declare denuclearization to the international society himself.
First, we must keep reminding ourselves that the fundamental cause lies in North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and that we must aim for complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. (Whether CVID, FFVD)
Looking back, South Korea has performed various North Korea strategies, whether conservative or progressive party, and the US has implemented likewise strategies of intervention and pressure. But they have all failed to suspend North Korea’s nuclear ambition. The root cause lies in the North Korean government’s attitude; they will never give up nukes.
We made a mistake at the Panmunjom Declaration last April 27th, 2018, by accepting the phrase ‘complete denuclearization’ without thinking twice.
Let us look back on the definition of ‘complete denuclearization’ on the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The basic principles of this declaration must be abided by, even though the North has breached most of the 8 specifics.
Denuclearization of North Korea and the improvement of South-North relation are in a mutual functional relation. Improvement of South-North relation is impossible to achieve without denuclearization.
Second, we must continuously strengthen our US- ROK alliance.
Trump administration is damaging mutual respect by neglecting multilateralism and dealing with its allies with a commercialized view. Furthermore, there have been negative inner voices from the Korean government and the ruling party on the US-ROK alliance. We should know that there are worrisome concerns on this.
The US-ROK alliance based on 1953 Mutual Defense Agreement has now developed into a ‘Value Alliance’, an alliance of countries sharing the same values as democracy, market economy, human rights and the rule of law.
Cooperation with China and Russia will not be easy, but we mustn’t stop trying. Particularly when we address China, we have to make them understand that the US-ROK alliance is an integral part of South Korea’s security system.
The immature steps of the Moon administration on dealing with the THAAD have lost faith from both China and the US. We have no choice but to think that they have forgotten the importance of where to put our security priorities.
Third, without visible progress in North Korea’s denuclearization, the UN Security Council’s sanctions must continue. The Security Council’s sanction is unlike any other bilateral actions in that it is the decision of the international society including the permanent member states. So every member states are obliged to follow.
By pressuring consistent and collective sanctions on North Korea, we must draw out change in North Korea’s behavior. The inconsistent chaotic cooperation projects of South Korean governments and even local governments, can give a confusing message for the Korean public and our allies.
The UN Security Council has selected 10 sanctions on North Korea since its first nuclear experiment in 2006 to 2017.
The grand prerequisite we require to overcome today’s diplomatic security challenges is to establish a bipartisan security strategy and to practise highly specialized policies.
When it comes to diplomacy and security we need to recognize that the ‘success of the administration leads to the success of our nation, and that the failure of the administration leads to the failure of our nation.” However there have been immense changes in South Korea governments position whenever the administration changes and in between parties.
It is rare that we see such diverse spectrum in diplomacy and security policies in a single state. Be aware that the ‘Republic of Korea is infinite, even if the administration is finite’ and institute unilateral diplomacy security policies.
During the last 6 months more than a hundred million have been infected by the coronavirus and the people from poor and vulnerable countries with weak healthcare systems continue to suffer. It is necessary to address this issue in the level of human security, which is what international society along with the UN has been dealing with.
Though not much is known about the inner conditions of North Korea, they must also be going through difficult times, lacking protective gear and health equipment to respond to COVID-19.
Thus, besides national security, it is desirable for the North and South Koreas to discuss common solutions and share South Korea’s COVID response tactics together with the international society.
We can envision a comprehensive program with international organizations such as the WTO and the UN, where South Korea can take the leading role in Northeast Asia’s COVID-19 response system. It could include the whole Korean Peninsula and our neighboring states in Northeast Asia as Japan and China.
Lastly, I would like to say some words on United Future Party’s climate change policies.
Last April 15th election, each party has put forward their climate related policies. As the former UN Secretary General who led the Paris Agreement, and as the Chair of the NCCA, I looked at them carefully, and learned from them.
Astoundingly, yet strange, the United Future Party has no pledges on climate change. If I must, I could include ‘de-nuclear power plant’ as the only climate related policy.
I ask the members of the United Future Party to have deep introspections. The climate change is an agenda directly related to the destiny of our planet earth, the survival of the humanity from the past, present and to the future. Many world renowned scientists agree that the COVID-19 crisis is closely linked to climate change.
It’s never too late to lead by developing climate-friendly policies and winning the heart of the citizens.
I wish the 21st National Assembly and its members working together to achieve the best for South Korea’s development.