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Moon Addresses GSOMIA, N. Korea, Reform Drive at Town Hall Meeting

Write: 2019-11-20 14:53:49Update: 2019-11-20 17:38:15

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: Hundreds attended a televised town hall meeting with President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday. Moon, who recently marked the halfway point of his five-year term in office, addressed a myriad of issues, ranging from the soon-to-expire Seoul-Tokyo military intel-sharing pact and inter-Korean relations to prosecutorial reform.
Choi You Sun brings us the details.

Report: During Tuesday's live town hall meeting with some 300 members of the general public, President Moon Jae-in said his administration will make last-ditch efforts to avoid a termination of Seoul's military intelligence-sharing deal with Japan, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement(GSOMIA).

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean)]
"We will work with Japan until the last minute if we can avoid the expiration of GSOMIA. Japan caused the GSOMIA issue. South Korea is providing significant help for the security of Japan, working as a big breakwater for Japan's defense..."

Moon also made clear that Seoul will not retract its decision to pull out of GSOMIA unless Tokyo withdraws its trade restrictions against South Korea. Tokyo implemented the curbs over the summer in apparent retaliation over Supreme Court rulings on colonial-era grievances.

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean)]
"However, while tightening its export control measures, Japan said South Korea cannot be trusted for security reasons. [Japan says] it cannot trust South Korea because hydrogen fluoride and other semiconductor materials [it sells to our corporations] can be shipped to North Korea or to a third country and then used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons. Isn't it contradictory to seek military intelligence sharing while saying that [South Korea] cannot be trusted in terms of security?"

Moon, however, emphasized that Seoul will maintain partnerships with Tokyo on regional security.

On the peace process involving North Korea and the United States, Moon highlighted the need to maintain engagement with the North.

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean)]
"Compare the current situation with the situation just two years ago. Back then, [people said that] if one thing went wrong, a war could break out, that the Korean Peninsula was at the highest risk of seeing war in the world. Fears of war have been eliminated now and [we have] entered a dialogue phase. Of course, talks haven't completely succeeded yet. There is no knowing when this peace will again crumble and the peninsula will go back to how it was in the past. We must make the current dialogue phase a success."

The president said Washington and Pyongyang are trying to arrange a third summit between their leaders within this year, adding the summit, if held, will lead to progress in peace efforts and offer room for improvement in inter-Korean ties.

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean)]
"Inter-Korean ties could move ahead swiftly if just the South and North were involved. However, advancing inter-Korean ties must go hand in hand with the international community and particularly because North-U.S. denuclearization negotiations are in progress, we must keep pace with our ally the U.S. for the success of the talks."

Apologizing to the South Korean people for causing social rifts by appointing former Justice Minister Cho Kuk while his family was under investigation by prosecutors over corruption allegations, the president stressed the need to accelerate prosecutorial reform.

Moon specifically mentioned establishing an independent agency to probe corruption by high-ranking officials to keep the prosecution in check, dismissing the opposition bloc's argument that his reform plans are part of an attempt to suppress the opposition.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.

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