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Mun Jae-In interview during visit to Russia

Part 2

See Part 1 for the beginning.

Mr, President. You then made a symbolic and at the same time a historic step on the territory of North Korea. Kim Jong-In took your hand and dragged to his country.

What are your impressions of this summit? How much you are satisfied with it and how you plan to further develop your relations with Chairman Kim?

Mun Jae In: Chairman Kim Jong-un, despite his youth, seemed to me a very polite and outspoken person. He treated me like he should have treated the eldest, with respect.

We conducted long, frank conversations with him. As a result, much has been achieved, but, unfortunately, there are some points that we did not have time to include in the final document. But still on these topics, we confirmed the common understanding. During the summit, Chairman Kim Jong-un demonstrated his firm conviction that it is necessary to denuclearize North Korea. He said he could give up all nuclear programs if he got security guarantees and maintained his regime. The final document, the Panmunjom Declaration, reflects the desire of the leaders of the North and South to achieve peace, stability and prosperity of the Korean peninsula. Economic cooperation between the South and the North should be complemented by economic cooperation with Russia in the form of a tripartite cooperation.

On this occasion, Chairman Kim Jong-Un and I also found a common language. You mentioned tripartite projects involving South Korea, North Korea and Russia. As far as I know, you talked about this in a telephone conversation with President Putin. It can be an electricity grid, a railway, a gas pipeline.

Which of these projects seem to be the most promising for you?

Mun Jae In: Russia and South Korea have great potential in terms of economic, humanitarian, cultural and tourist exchanges. It is not yet exhausted. We can also involve North Korea in this cooperation after the establishment of a lasting peace regime in the region. I think that this will certainly help, among other things, its economic development. As for the trilateral cooperation, it can be such large projects as the combination of railways and power lines, the construction of a gas pipeline. Their implementation is possible in the presence of necessary conditions. After connecting the Trans-Korean railway, it can enter the Trans-Siberian Railway. In this case, the flow of goods from South Korea can go through the Transsib to Europe. It will bring economic benefits not only to South and North Korea, but also to Russia.

Iappreciated the role of the Russian Federation in the settlement on the Korean peninsula.

We can also stretch the gas pipeline through North Korea, and then not only South Korea will be able to receive Russian gas: for example, to transport it further to Japan. We can also implement a power transmission line connection plan that will allow us to receive electricity produced in Russia. It can also be delivered in this way not only to North and South Korea, but also to Japan. The implementation of these plans will help bring the economic prosperity of all countries of the Eurasian continent closer. President Putin highly appreciated the economic ties between our countries, and this, of course, is fair. Almost every Russian home has at least something produced in South Korea: a TV set, a telephone, a washing machine, a kettle, some go by Korean cars.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum, you talked about the “nine bridges” that you need to establish between Korea and Russia. Which of these “bridges” do you consider to be priority, which have already been built and which have yet to be built?

Moon Jae In: Russian-Korean economic cooperation can develop in many different directions. The most priority of them I announced last year during the third Eastern Economic Forum. We called them “nine bridges of cooperation.”

This is the railway, gas, electricity, construction of port infrastructure, agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding and so on. In these areas we have a great potential, to the realization of which we should strive. It is necessary to develop cooperation on the priority lines with the Russian side. Last year, under the presidential administration, the Committee for Northern Economic Cooperation began to work through which economic cooperation with Russia is taking place. In turn, in Russia we are jointly creating platforms for cooperation, including the Support Center for Korean Investors in the Far East, the Korean Investor Day in the Far Eastern regions and so on.

South Korea abolished military exercises in order not to irritate the DPRK.

In our countries there is an intergovernmental commission that discusses the most diverse issues of economic cooperation. Right now, documents are being prepared that can be signed within the framework of my visit to Russia. This involves not only the governments of the two countries, but also interested organizations and private enterprises. Referring to the prospects for cooperation, I will say that in the near future we will need to agree on a specific plan for implementation of these tasks.

We can sign an action plan. As far as I know, the intergovernmental commission is currently preparing such a document, and I hope that by the fourth WEF in September this year it will be signed. I can say that thanks to this acceleration of economic cooperation between our countries, the volume of bilateral trade reached $ 19 billion. Compared with the same period last year, growth was 40 percent. I believe that this is only the beginning.

Once again I will say that we have a great potential that has not yet been exhausted. Mr. President, the economy is very important, but no less important and very valuable are our cultural ties. We have a lot of projects to develop them: Korean holidays are held in Russia, Korean culture holidays are held in Russia. I would like you to give your assessment of this part of our cooperation, and in this regard, one more issue. In Korea, amazing holidays, very different.

In Russia, we celebrate the Day of Russian writing, and in Korea there is a wonderful holiday – Hangul Day, the Korean alphabet. Where did it come from, how do you mark it, and what are your favorite holidays in general?

Moon Jae In: It is said that Hangul is the most scientific and logical alphabet in the world. He was created by the ruler Sejon, known for his great love for his people, to convey his thoughts on the letter. Hangul is unique. It is the only alphabet in the world that has an exact creation date and a well-known author. This is recorded in historical chronicles. Therefore, we attach great importance to this and even celebrate the creation of Hangul in the country as a national holiday.

In addition, we have two traditional people’s favorite holiday. One of them is the New Year according to the lunar calendar, which in Korea is called Solnal. On this day we gather together with relatives, eat together a trotkuk – soup from rice cakes, share with each other the wishes of good. The second holiday is Chusok, a harvest festival. It is celebrated in autumn, after the completion of field work. Then we gather together with relatives, we are eating, we thank each other.

The key question. People who have reached the summit, are often called successful.

Mr. President, you are also one of them. What words of support could you say to young people from the Republic of Korea and Russia wishing to attain heights in life?

Moon Jae In: Every person has a mountain that he wants to climb. To find such a mountain and challenge it is the right of a young man. The search for and departure from the generally accepted stereotypes is a normal phenomenon. If a person finds his own way, then the search time can not be called wasted time. Time changes very quickly. The future that attracts the younger generation is completely different from what we have now. And when a young man himself overcomes a challenge, this in itself becomes an important experience for him, which gives him strength. With regard to advice and support of the younger generation, it is important to remember the role and responsibility of the older generation. It is necessary to create conditions for fair competition and give a chance to rise even to those who failed. I think that the role of our generation should be to ensure that young people fully meet the challenges in new spheres of life and feel confident in the attainability of the goal.

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