Journey to One Korea, One Korea Night

02/04/2015 02:34 pm ET | Updated Apr 06, 2015

The following speech was delivered on January 22, 2015 at the Korea Night event in Davos.

Thank you, Chairman Huh, for hosting this wonderful event. I welcome all of you here tonight.
I know there are many other national nights today. Your presence well shows your friendship for Korea. And, for those of you who just came looking for Psy again -- no Psy this year. But, I have a special message for you, so stay tuned!

Just now, we watched a video message by President Park. As you can imagine, this message is built upon her address before you here in Davos last year: That Korean unification would be a "bonanza" for the entire world. And, also, her Dresden speech proposing three key agendas for unification.

And, I'm happy to report to you, since then, we have come a long way. The biggest progress is that we have had a re-awakening on the necessity and do-ability of unification. Not only in South Korea, but around the world, there is now a consensus that this sorry state of Korea's 70-year-old division must come to a close. Over the last year, many world leaders from across the world have been rallying to my President's call to bring down the barriers dividing the Korean peninsula -- just like the Berlin Wall was torn down.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of our liberation, as well as the division of Korea, we have a special sense of mission. We remain the only country divided after the Second World War, with the longest armistice in modern history.

Still, some may ask: "What's so wrong with the status quo?" And: "Doesn't unification cost too much?" Others may even argue: "Why should we bother about unification, when we have other pressing issues here and now?"

But, as a matter of fact, we have been paying an unjustifiably high price for the last 70 years: the humanitarian costs, including the agony of separated families, the abysmal human rights situation in North Korea, the ever-growing tension and instability emanating from North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

These are just some true costs of division. And, as time goes by, the cost will only go up. So, let me be clear: The division cost is much, much higher than unification cost. Not only Koreans, but the whole world, will eventually have to bear the burden.

Then, will Korean unification make things better?

Yes, because a unified Korea will be a herald of peace: No more North Korean nuclear weapons; no more long-range missiles aimed at our own countries.

Yes, because a unified Korea will be a booster of growth: South Korea's cutting-edge high-tech, North Korea's abundant mineral resources, 80 million industrious and innovative Koreans. Together, this is a great recipe for synergy and prosperity.

And, yes, because a unified Korea will be a land of freedom and democracy, and a defender of human rights. Korean unification will spread universal values throughout the whole Korean peninsula.

But, unification's benefits do not end there. I have plenty of good news for our neighbors, too. Korean unification will meet the expectations of the U.S. to pursue a nuclear-weapons-free world. China won't have to bother about a volatile source of instability at its doorstep.

And Korean unification will generate new economic opportunities -- a turning point for northeastern China, new markets for Japan and a renewed impetus for developing the Russian Far East. A unified Korea will be the bridge and the linchpin of a reconnected Eurasia, and the vast and fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

Korea divided will be a geopolitical curse; Korea unified will be a geopolitical blessing. And Northeast Asia will be able to enjoy peace and prosperity. The whole world will be able to share a peace dividend. This is an enormous win-win for all of us.

I have talked about all the goodies in the future. But, the devil is always in the details; so, how can we get there? I'll emphasize three key points in this regard.

First, we'll have to remove the obstacles to building confidence and easing tensions in the Korean peninsula. That means "no" to nukes. North Korea's nuclear weapons are like a cancer on inter-Korean ties and on peace in the region. We must get rid of them. We in the South are pressing Pyeongyang on this issue, while keeping the door open to meaningful dialogue. The international community is closing ranks in support of denuclearization.

North Korea should respond to these calls. The sooner, the better. Like my President said recently, denuclearization is not a precondition, but we cannot talk about peaceful unification or durable peace without resolving this. We'll continue to work for a virtuous cycle of better inter-Korean ties and denuclearization.

Second, we'll have to build up a rapprochement between South and North Korea, step-by-step. We'll cultivate dialogue and cooperation, working from small to big. Like I said at the outset, my president has already proposed a three-point agenda on North Korea. The agenda for humanity, concerning humanitarian assistance, including separated families, who should have a reunion at the earliest possible date. The agenda for co-prosperity, building infrastructure that supports people's livelihoods. The agenda for integration, fostering real connections and building channels on culture, education and sports between the South and North.

Third, we'll have to create the right international environment conducive to unification. It was just 25 years ago that divided Germany became reunited. In that process, Germany was able to secure the blessings of its neighbors. That has many implications for Korea. Indeed, for Korean unification, the support of our neighbors is even more important. That is why my government is trying to reach out to our neighbors in the region.

But that is not all. We are using new and creative regional initiatives as well: The Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, to foster regional cooperation, starting with soft issues. The Eurasia Initiative, to link the energy and logistics infrastructure, connecting the Eurasian continent as one again.

The success of these initiatives will shore up our efforts to bring about North Korea's change. Already, we have seen the wind of change sweep through other regions, opening up countries like Myanmar and Cuba. So, we are working with many partners so that the wind of change will come to the shores of North Korea.

Last but not least, South Korea was born with the endorsement of the UN. Korea's unification will realize the values espoused by the UN. This is why we need and we want the support of the global community, united in one voice. That includes every one of you here tonight in Davos. You are global leaders. What you think, and what you can do for Korean unification, matters.

In closing, I have a dream. Today, I stand here as the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. But one day, not in the distant future, one of my successors will represent a unified Korea here at Korea Night. One Korea Night, of which you are having a foretaste tonight.

If history is any reminder for us, unification will come in an unexpected manner and moment, rather than in a predicted fashion. That is why we are laying the solid groundwork for unification.

A reunified Korea will bring another miracle on the Korean peninsula. And a unified Korea will bring us real connectivity, linking the Eurasian continent as one, from its eastern end to its western periphery.

Just imagine that the Trans-Korea and Trans-Siberian Railway will reconnect the Eurasian continent. Koreans, Asians, people from all over the world will hop on the train from Seoul to Paris, Berlin and Davos, and vice versa.

That day is coming. And we are already on that path. Join us and support us on this journey. Thank you.