+ A

Moon gave Kim a ‘vision’ of economic cooperation

May 02,2018
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a USB drive with materials describing his vision for inter-Korean economic cooperation during last week’s summit, hinting at a possible resumption of joint projects scrapped or stalled by former conservative administrations.

According to a senior Blue House official who briefed local reporters Monday, the USB contained an e-book and a short presentation illustrating Moon’s so-called “New Economic Map” initiative, which was initially made public last July in a speech in Berlin.

While visiting Germany for a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to attend a Group of 20 Summit, Moon gave a speech at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin describing a road map for Korean reunification.

At the time, Moon stressed that his vision was to be implemented after progress was seen in the nuclear crisis.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, says the initiative aims at a “single market” for the two Koreas in order to “lay the foundation for unification,” job creation and higher-economic growth for both countries.

The road map is based on three “economic belts” on the Korean Peninsula and connecting them with the Chinese and Russian economies, developing an “economic community” of some sort in Northeast Asia.

The Blue House source said the USB also contained “information related to a power plant,” without explaining further. That suggests that Seoul might provide energy aid to the North in return for it giving up its nuclear arsenal.

The Panmunjom Declaration signed between Moon and Kim last Friday made no specific mention of any joint economic projects, reflecting Seoul’s stance that the main agenda for the summit would be North Korea’s denuclearization.

But when Moon later stood in front of cameras with Kim, he said he looked forward to seeing both countries start “joint research” on ways to resume joint economic projects and implement an inter-Korean declaration signed on Oct. 4, 2007, when then-Korean leaders Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il agreed to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity.

According to the Blue House official, Moon told his aides on Monday that he wished to seek economic cooperation with North Korea “right at this instance” as long as it doesn’t violate any United Nations Security Council sanctions, adding other related matters of cooperation will need to wait “until the conditions are right.”

Joint research with the North would enable South Korea to “prepare” for the time when international sanctions against Pyongyang are lifted, Moon was quoted as saying.

Joint economic projects with North Korea were forced to shut down under South Korea’s right-leaning Lee Myung-bak administration when Seoul announced a package of stiff sanctions banning cooperation with the regime on May 24, 2010, in response to Pyongyang’s torpedoing of the Cheonan warship on March 26, 2010, which killed 46 South Korean sailors, though the North denied any accountability.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KANG TAE-HWA [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]