Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea

09/27/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/27/2021 00:40

Regular Briefing by Spokesperson Lee Jong Joo

Date: Monday, September 27, 2021
Time: 10:30-10:40 A.M.

1. Unification Minister to visit Belgium, Sweden and Germany

Unification Minister Lee In-young will be visiting Belgium, Sweden, and Germany from September 29 to October 4 to attend celebrations for the 31st anniversary of German reunification and to promote support and cooperation for Korea's peace process among European nations.

On September 30, Minister Lee will be in Belgium to hold talks with Jutta Urpilainen and Janez Lenarčič of the European Commission, followed by a roundtable meeting with members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula. The Minister will call for the European Union's support and cooperation in advancing the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

On October 1, Minister Lee will hold bilateral talks with Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde, and meet with other Swedish government officials in charge of Korean Peninsula issues as well as experts from private think tanks to request for Sweden's active mediation role in improving inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK relations, and to discuss further cooperation ideas.

On October 2, Minister Lee will deliver a special lecture on inter-Korean relations and the Korean peace process at the Free University of Berlin, and meet with local Korean residents in the area.

October 3 marks the 31st anniversary of German reunification, and Minister Lee will attend celebratory events held in Saxony-Anhalt. Minister Lee has been officially invited to attend the ceremony by Germany's upper and lower house of parliament, and will be participating as the only high-level government envoy.

On October 4, Minister Lee will pay a courtesy visit to German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, where they will share the experiences of German reunification and its implications for unification on the Korean Peninsula.

2. Other schedule

Minister Lee will pay a courtesy visit to the supreme leader of Chondogyo today at 11 A.M. It will be an opportunity to collect opinions from the religious community on the prospects of inter-Korean relations.

The finals of the Ministry's annual music festival, co-hosted by Gangwon Province and Cheorwon County, will be held tomorrow at 8 P.M.

Minister Lee will deliver congratulatory video remarks at an event held at Hangyeore High School on September 29, and another at a medical forum held by Goyang City and the National Cancer Center on September 30.

3. Q&A

Q. Did North Korea respond to the 9 A.M. routine call made through the joint liaison office? Does the Ministry have any additional plans to push for talks?

A. The Ministry attempted to make the 9 A.M. call through the South-North Joint Liaison Office today morning, but the North did not respond. We will continue making efforts to normalize the function of the liaison office as soon as possible.

Q. Vice Department Director Kim Yo Jong's statements made public on September 24 and 25 expressed interest in restoring inter-Korean relations, but the liaison office calls are still going unanswered. What is the Government's position on this?

A. The Ministry has previously explained the Government's position on the series of statements by Vice Department Director Kim Yo Jong, and would like to repeat this once again.

The ROK Government, while adhering to the principles of zero tolerance for war, mutual security guarantee and co-prosperity, has consistently made efforts to improve inter-Korean relations, achieve complete denuclearization and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and cooperation.

North Korea expressed through Vice Department Director Kim Yo Jong's statement that it also desires a swift recovery of inter-Korean relations and wishes to achieve peaceful stability on the Korean Peninsula. The North also noted that it can address one by one various issues for improving relations through constructive discussions, including issues such as the reestablishment of the South-North joint liaison office, declaring an end to the Korea War, and holding another inter-Korean summit. All such statements are perceived meaningful.

For such discussions to happen, it is crucial to have smooth and stable communications between the two Koreas. Thus, inter-Korean communications lines must first be restored at the earliest possible date.

The ROK Government hopes to see the resumption of government-level talks following the prompt restoration of inter-Korean communications lines, bringing stability to the peninsula and allowing for discussions and resolutions of various pending issues.

Q. The Government appears to be interpreting Kim's statement as a positive signal. If North Korea is really willing to restore relations, what is the first move it should make?

A. As previously mentioned, maintaining smooth and stable communications between the two Koreas is most important for improving inter-Korean relations, achieving complete denuclearization and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. As such, inter-Korean communications lines must first be restored.

The Government hopes to resume dialogue with the North following the prompt restoration of communications lines, allowing for discussions and resolutions of various pending issues.

Q. Some say the North's apology for the explosion of the South-North Joint Liaison Office in Gaeseong must come before discussing matters on formally ending the Korean War. What is the Ministry's position on this?

A. Once communications lines between the two Koreas are restored and dialogue resumes, we will be able to find a progressive and wise solution to the problems raised by the demolition of the joint liaison office. We hope the North respond to restoring communications and make it possible to discuss these issues through dialogue.

Q. What issues will be dealt with priority if talks were to resume?

A. There are a number of issues on the agenda for the two Koreas to discuss, including those already agreed by the two sides through the Panmunjom Declaration and the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration, as well as those concerning Covid-19 that require urgent measures.

The Government, from the standpoint of consistently striving to improve inter-Korean relations and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula, has been reviewing priorities and the direction of consultations while considering the North's response and levels of importance and urgency.

We will gradually discuss all issues with the North once communications lines are restored and dialogue resumes.

Q. The North is scheduled to convene a Supreme People's Assembly session tomorrow. Has any related trends been identified?

A. The standing committee of the Supreme People's Assembly on August 24 decided to convene a session on September 28. However, there have been no additional reports on this session since the initial announcement.