In a major policy address, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Chairman Hyun Jin Preston Moon credited the Trump administration for making Korea the top international priority for the U.S. for the first time since the Korean War. “The administration imposed biting sanctions, galvanized global support to enforce those sanctions, and projected a credible military threat to counter the North’s nuclear program,” Moon said.
The GPF chairman described the world’s response as “a perfect storm of global condemnation” on a par with the United Nation’s response to the outbreak of the Korean War. “Yet, instead of capitalizing on this tremendous inflection point to shape the future of Korea, the United States kept its blinders on in pursuit of the unrealistic narrow goal of the ‘complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization’ of the North.”
Moon addressed the 2019 Global Peace Convention, an assembly of Korea experts, elected officials, and civil society leaders from 46 nations, on February 28 at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul.
Observing that the U.S. had squandered the opportunity presented by Kim’s international isolation, the GPF chairman said Kim then reached out to the newly elected president of South Korea, Moon Jae, who took extraordinary steps to advocate direct bilateral talks between the United States and the DPRK, breaking with longstanding diplomatic practice.
The Singapore Summit “would give Kim the legitimacy his predecessors could not achieve and, thereby, increase his stature at home and abroad as an equal to the American president,” Moon said. “Once [Kim] stood utterly alone, yet with the help of the South Korean president, he now stood as an equal with the very man who nearly brought him and his regime to the brink.”
In his address, the GPF chairman stressed what he called “the historic, cultural DNA” of the Korean people, traced through a tumultuous 5000-year history and a motivating ideal for the 1919 Independence movement. He described the philosophical ideal of Hongik Ingan [‘to live for the greater benefit of humanity’] as guiding principle in periods of crisis and national renewal. Based on this ethos, Moon said, independence leaders believed it was their destiny to create an ideal nation that would be an example to the world. Korean independence was seen through the lens of fulfilling Korea’s national destiny, instead of mere condemnation of Japan.
“The division on the peninsula is the challenge of our generation but it is by no means insurmountable,” Moon added. He stressed that it was vital to examine the type of nation a unified Korea aspired to be, not narrowly focus on the process. He proposed that a new nation should “encapsulate the aspirations of the independence movement from which the leadership of the two Koreas had come and, thus, made it relevant for the discussion of a new unified homeland.
“I urge the ROK, the U.S. and the international community to recalibrate their approaches,” Moon said. “Appeasement of and advocacy for Kim’s regime is not a strategy, nor would it lead to anything productive for the Korean people. Unfortunately, the North understands the weakness of the South’s hyper-partisan political environment.
“A unified Korea that is built upon the ideals of Hongik Ingan would naturally align itself to the West since it shares its values of liberty and human rights. In addition, it would be an indispensable peace broker, bridging East and West, in the most dynamic region in the world. As a result, a unified Korea should become the clearly stated and actively pursued policy of the U.S. with the support of the community of nations. In doing so, it would help the Korean people bring closure to the legacy of colonialism and the Cold War that plagued us throughout the twentieth century.”
The Global Peace Foundation is a co-sponsor of the One Korea Global Campaign and the March 1 Movement 100th Anniversary One K Commemoration held at the National Assembly Plaza on March 1.