Welcoming Remarks by President Moon Jae-in at Dinner for the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit

Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un, Lady Ri Sol Ju, distinguished guests,

Tonight the whole world is paying attention to us. Even though our shoulders were heavy with the sense of a historic mission, it was a very rewarding day, indeed.

There is a North Korean proverb that goes, “A person who eats a whole pot of rice can roar.” Koreans are people who can only feel relieved when they’re able to serve their guests a hot meal. I’m pleased that I can enjoy such a delicious dinner after having heart-to-heart conversations with esteemed guests and reaching a crucial agreement today.

The Pyeongyang naengmyeon specially arranged by Chairman Kim added to the significance of today’s dinner.

Until we could get together here like this, all our people managed to endure so much. There was a time when we wielded our fists at each other.

There were times of sorrow when family members separated by the Korean War were not able to meet. However, we had a historic meeting today and reached a valuable agreement while the world was watching us.

A new beginning has come for peace both on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole world. I appreciate the hard work of the South and North Korean personnel who put forth such all-out efforts to ensure the success of today’s Summit. I thank every one of the 80 million South and North Koreans who have been waiting for a new spring to be enjoyed together.

Watching Chairman Kim step across the Military Demarcation Line to the Southern side, I recalled President Roh Moo-hyun walking across the MDL to the North 11 years earlier.

At that time, we thought that by going back and forth over the MDL like that, the barrier between the two Koreas would steadily become lower and more obscure so that we could become one again.

Since then, however, we spent 10 years of great regret.

The barrier subsequently rose to become an iron wall.

I respect Chairman Kim’s resolute decision, for today, Panmunjeom, a symbol of division, has become the cradle of world peace.

Chairman Kim and I had a heart-felt talk. We were able to understand each other. Today we’ve paved the way for peace, prosperity and co-existence on the Korean Peninsula, ridding it of the dark clouds of war.

We both recognize that South and North Korea should determine the destiny of the Korean nation on our own accord while seeking the support and cooperation of the international community.

Furthermore, we share the belief that a historical responsibility to build a new world order rests with us. We have also restored the confidence that we can make it happen together.

Chairman Kim Jong Un, distinguished guests,

Today the South and the North have started to walk this uncharted road with bold imagination. Both North Korea’s athletes and cheering squad whom we shook hands with at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, and the people of South Korea who fervently wished for peace welcomed them and have all been tremendous support.

President Kim Yong Nam of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, 1st Vice Department Director Kim Yo Jong, and Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol of the Central Committee came to South Korea as special envoys, and they have ignited the dialogue between the North and the South. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

From now on, the South and the North will sit down and face each other like today to find solutions when difficult problems arise.

Through regular meetings and direct telephone conversations, Chairman Kim Jong Un and I will discuss matters and build trust. There will be no turning back from our strides toward peace and prosperity of the North and the South. In the words of Oh Yeong-jae, the poet laureate of North Korea, “Now that we have met, let us not part again. Let us never again, never again repeat this history of pain and suffering, the history of tears. If we repeat it again, the hearts of our people will burst and die. If the past half century of bitterness in our hearts can melt after one encounter, that is what flesh and blood is all about. That is what defines a true people.”

I sincerely hope our meeting today will help address the unresolved longing in the hearts of all Korean people. I also sincerely hope we will be able to prosper together, eating from the same pot.

Chairman Kim Jong Un, distinguished guests,

There is a saying in North Korea, “Good company makes miles shorter.” Chairman Kim and I have now become good traveling companions unparalleled in the world. Starting from Chairman Kim’s New Year’s address this year to our meeting today, we have moved forward at a pace that surprises the whole world, thereby making yesterday feel like a thing in the distant past. If we march forward together hand-in-hand, peace, prosperity and unification would become more achievable goals.

Nobody on this land will suffer a misfortune due to a war going forward. Every spring azalea in the mountains of Yongbyeon in North Korea will come into full bloom, and camellia in the southern coastal areas in the South will burst into life.

I would like to propose a toast.

I have a longstanding but unfulfilled dream—to trek in Mount Baekdu and the Gaema plateau. I firmly believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un will help me realize my dream.

Will you send me a travel voucher for Mount Beakdu and the Gaema plateau when I retire from office?

However, I don’t want that to be a privilege allowed only for me. I hope any Korean will be able to enjoy such a pleasure someday.

I have no idea how North Koreans make a toast, but I will propose a toast by saying wihayeo—for a day when the peoples of South and North Korea can freely come and go between the South and the North.

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