S Korean President Moon calls for East Asian rail community
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday called for the establishment of an East Asian railroad community, saying that it will lay the foundation for an economic and security community in the region.
"At Yongsan, once the starting point of railroads between Seoul and Sinuiju and between Seoul and Wonsan, I propose the creation of the East Asian railroad community today, encompassing six Northeast Asian countries and the United States," Moon said in his speech at the Liberation Day ceremony held at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan, Seoul.
The six Northeast Asian countries are the two Koreas, China, Japan, Mongolia and Russia. The two Koreas are discussing plans to reconnect the rail network, which could ultimately be linked to China and Russia.
President Moon Jae-in speaks at a ceremony Wednesday, marking Korea`s Independence from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule 73 years ago. (Yonhap)
Moon went on to say that the railroad community will lead to greater cooperation among the concerned nations, comparing it to the European Coal and Steel Community that laid the foundation for the European Union.
"It will then lead to the creation of East Asian energy and economic communities. Moreover, it will initiate a Northeast Asian multilateral peace and security system," Moon said.
Moon made the suggestion as he reiterated his visions for improving inter-Korean ties and economic cooperation, saying that improving inter-Korean relations is a "catalyst for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Moon emphasized that complete denuclearization of North Korea is required for economic cooperation, saying that before political unification, the two Koreas could form an "economic community."
Citing the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy's projections on inter-Korean economic cooperation and past cross-border projects, Moon went on to say that peace is vital to economic development on the peninsula.
According to the KIEP, the economic effect of the two Koreas' cooperation could reach 170 trillion won ($150 billion) over a period of 30 years.
Listing the developments concerning North Korea, including the US-North Korea summit, Moon said that the goal is to end the Korean War, and set out objectives for his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September.
"We two leaders will confirm the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and take an audacious step to proceed toward the declaration of an end to the Korean War and the signing of a peace treaty as well as the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Moon said.
Adding that removing distrust between the Koreas, and between Pyongyang and Washington, is essential to further progress, Moon said he would work to help the North and the US build trust.
While Moon dedicated most of his speech to North Korea-related issues, the president also praised the efforts of independence fighters who resisted Japan's colonial rule, and laid out his plans for honoring such individuals.
Saying that the government will continue identifying and giving due credit to independence fighters, Moon highlighted female activists. According to Moon, the government has identified 202 female independence fighters over the past year.
The South Korean leader also placed particular significance on the location of Yongsan, saying that the area has had a significant part in Korea's modern history.
"Since the end of the Korean War, Yongsan has served as the foundation for maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula. The relocation of the US Forces Korea headquarters to Pyeongtaek in June this year enabled the ROK-US alliance to usher in a new era to become as strong as ever," Moon said.
"Now this part of Yongsan will be turned into an ecological park akin to the Central Park in New York. It will become possible to earnestly implement the 2005 plan to create a national park."