Ensuring peace with the North was a key objective of Moon’s tenure, which came to an end in May.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has vowed to use his last months in office to push for a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea, despite Pyongyang’s silence over its efforts to secure a peace declaration between the two countries.
“I will not stop attempts to institutionalize [a] sustainable peace, ”Moon said in his last New Year’s speech on Monday before ending his five-year term in May.
“The government will pursue the normalization of inter-Korean relations and an irreversible path to peace to the end. I hope that efforts for dialogue will continue in the next administration. “
In his speech on New Year’s Eve, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un focused on to get the economy going and improve people’s lives. Nasien 10 years in power, he made no mention of Moon’s calls for a declaration that officially ended the 1950-53 Korean War, or put an end to the disarmament talks with the United States.
Moon held several meetings with Kim, including one in Pyongyang, during a wave of negotiations in 2018 and 2019, but the process has faltered amid disagreements over international demands that the North give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang’s call on Washington and Seoul to ease sanctions and abandon other “hostile policies”.
Moon pushes a “end of war declaration”As a way to revive the stuck talks and his administration hinted at back-channel discussions.
But North Korea has not publicly responded to the latest pressure, and the US has said it supports the idea, but may disagree with the South over its timing.
“It’s true that there is still a long way to go,” Moon acknowledged, but argued that if the two Koreas improve relations, the international community will follow.
Moon said his outreach to North Korea was made possible by a major military build-up that helped make the South safer.
“Peace is possible on strong security,” he said.
Moon also spoke in his speech about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, expressed his appreciation to the country’s health care workers and expressed condolences to the dead and their families.
The president said he would “make the year 2022 the first year of normalization by fully recovering from the crisis”, although he also warned against complacency given the rise of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
In South Korea, daily cases rose to nearly 8,000 last month, but stricter rules on social distancing and other public health initiatives have helped slow the spread.
The North imposed strict border closures at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, insisting it had no cases of the virus.