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Welcoming Remarks by
LEE Donghyeon, President of The Kyunghyang Shinmun


The Kyunghyang Shinmun is proud to present the Fourth annual Kyunghyang Forum as part of its efforts to seek a better future for Korean society.

In past iterations of our Forum, we offered discussion and alternative solutions to issues such as the fourth industrial revolution and the meaning of the “new normal.” Last year, we looked into the structural inequalities growing in our society in spite of our per capita GNP reaching $30,000.

And for this year’s Kyunghyang Forum, we have chosen the topic of inter-Korean relations, one that is the natural and ever present next hurdle for our society to overcome on its way to a better future.

As you are all aware of, the two U.S.-DPRK summit meetings held in Singapore last year and Hanoi this year are sure to become events that would affect not only the Korean Peninsula but also Northeast Asia and the rest of the world in terms of its impact on international security and economic order. Although the Hanoi summit ended without resolution, we are happy to know that dialogue between the two countries will still be continuing.

In recognition of these significant changes surrounding the Korean Peninsula, this year’s Forum is appropriately entitled, New Era of Northeast Asian Cooperation: Korean Peninsula 2.0 – Working Towards Mutual Prosperity.

I believe it is time that the surrounding powers that concern themselves with the denuclearization of the DPRK rise above the decades of conflict and start building a foundation for peace on the Korean Peninsula. For this goal, it is imperative that we cooperate in a multitude of areas such as politics, economics, society, and culture, in order that we see beyond the Peninsula and look to ways in which Northeast Asia as a whole may live together in prosperity. And today, the Kyunghyang Forum will respond to this need for a new order in a new era by seeking future-oriented solutions from the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia.

This year’s Forum will feature a Keynote Address by Dr. Richard Haass, who is the President of the most prestigious think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, which is also familiar to us as the publisher of the renown foreign policy journal, Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Haass is currently in his sixteenth year as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, having been a most influential voice in the U.S. foreign policy over the years. He is also an experienced diplomat, who has served as the senior Middle East advisor to President George H.W. Bush and as the State Department's director of policy planning under Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is also the author and editor to more than a dozen books on foreign policy and international relations, including A World in Disarray from 2017, where he proposed the idea of ‘world order 2.0.’ We hope to hear from Dr. Haass insights into issues such as the U.S.‘ trade conflict with China, the changing role of the U.S. in Northeast Asia, the Trump Administration’s strategy toward the DPRK, and thoughts on a new Korean Peninsula that may result from improved U.S.-DPRK relations.

The first session of the Kyunghyang Forum will examine the possibility of new breakthroughs to the DPRK nuclear issue and changes within the DPRK amidst the current setbacks following the most recent Hanoi Summit. Dr. Marcus Noland who is Executive Vice President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in the United States will start the session with his presentation. Dr. Noland, a renown specialist on the DPRK’s economy who had also been at one time a Visiting Scholar at our Korea Development Institute, will look into the Kim Jong Un regime’s changes in economy, especially as they now turn to the objective of economic self-sufficiency after having developed nuclear weaponry and missiles.

Professor Jin Jing-Yi of Peking University, who is one of China’s foremost experts on the DPRK and has much experience visiting the territory, will then share his thoughts on China’s solution to denuclearization as well as which direction the Kim Jong Un regime might be headed in the future. Afterwards, former Minister of Unification, Chung Se-Hyun, will draw upon his plentiful experience dealing with the North-South issue as well as his witty comments to have a dialogue with Dr. Haass about the possibility of a resolution of the DPRK’s nuclear issue leading to a peace and cooperation structure in Northeast Asia.

The second session will, then feature DPRK experts, Professor Georgy Toloraya who is the Director of Asian Strategy Center at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Yoshihide Soeya who is Professor of political science and international relations at the Faculty of Law at Keio University, and Professor Yang Moon-Soo who is Vice President of the University of North Korea Studies. These experts from Russia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea will be giving their perspectives on the possibility of a permanent structure for peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as potential for Northeast Asian economic cooperation. We also have Dr. Pham Van Duc, the Vice-President of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, and Vietnam’s preeminent expert on Marx-Leninism, who will reflect upon Vietnam’s own experience of Doi Moi policy to share with us his thoughts on the possibilities and direction of DPRK’s opening and reform. Finally, the Kyunghyang Forum will feature a special address by Kim Yeon Chul, the current Minister of Unification of the Republic of Korea and person tasked with responsibility for our DPRK policy.

The third session for today will be a discussion among our presenters that will be moderated by Dr. Kim Ji-Yoon who is the host of MBC’s 100 Minute Discussion. This session will feature the opinions of Dr. Noland, Prof. Jin Jing-Yi, Prof. Toloraya, and Prof. Yang on the topic of a new Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asian cooperation.

For the past 70 years, the North-South conflict on the Korean Peninsula resulted in too much waste of national resources. Therefore, when this conundrum is resolved, I am sure that both Korean society and Northeast Asia will see positive changes forthcoming. A situation where needless interference and conflict are eliminated would be a win for everyone, even if the two Koreas are not united.

I sincerely hope that the Kyunghyang Forum may become a small but significant first step toward inter-Korean cooperation and progress in Northeast Asia.

Finally, please be assured that The Kyunghyang Shinmun will always be working hard for peace on the Korean Peninsula. We look forward to your interest and participation.

LEE Donghyeon
CEO of Kyunghyang Shinmun

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