We start with President Moon Jae-in’s New Year’s press conference from earlier this morning.
Due to Covid-19 restriction measures, only 20 reporters were on site in person while one hundred others took part via video conferencing.
The two-hour long presser touched upon issues ranging from the South Korean leader’s Korean Peninsula peace initiative and his plans to cooperate with the new Biden administration to domestic issues such as the Covid-19 vaccination program and ways to address the soaring home prices.
Let’s go live to our senior presidential office correspondent Kim Minji for details.
Minji, let’s begin with the president’s foreign as well as North Korea policy in the new year.
The presser gave us a peek at how President Moon and his national security team will drive the Korean Peninsula peace initiative forward especially in tandem with the incoming Biden administration in Washington.
President Moon reaffirmed his determination to get denuclearization talks back on track.
He said that with the new administration in Washington., he hopes North Korea and the U.S. can also restart efforts, not from square one, but from the positive achievements from the past.
It is believed that the Biden administration prefers a bottom-up approach to a top-down one. If North Korea and the U.S. are able to swiftly and closely discuss ways to implement the Singapore Declaration, I think there could be a resolution. South Korea will also do its best to find the answer.
President Moon said he believes Kim Jong-un is still determined to achieve peace and denuclearization if the North’s security can be assured.
As for the Biden administration, Moon said that the values and policy stance are similar with South Korea’s and that he hopes to meet Biden as soon as possible to ensure that the North Korea issue remains a priority for the new U.S. government.
President Moon also expressed hope for another inter-Korean summit.
He said it doesn’t necessarily need to be a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Seoul, and that he is willing to sit down with him anytime, anywhere.
As for upcoming military drills between Seoul and Washington in March which North Korea demanded should be suspended as a prerequisite for talks Moon said he could discuss the issue with Pyeongyang if necessary.
A lot of time spent on domestic issues, as well especially on the skyrocketing housing prices. President Moon said new measures will be rolled out next month?
That’s right.
It’s an issue which has reduced the government’s approval rating to fresh lows.
Moon acknowledged that demand surpassed the previously anticipated supply and that shortage, in part, led to soaring prices.
He vowed to maintain the government’s initial stance of curbing speculation, while increasing supply.
We will increase the number from public developers for redevelopment projects and the development of housing sites near train stations in the metropolitan area to increase the supply of houses.
On COVID-19, Moon vowed thorough efforts to prepare for the vaccine rollout stressing that it could actually start earlier than February through the COVAX facility program.
He also brushed off views that South Korea was late in procuring vaccines.
And addressing concerns of potential side effects saying that the government will be taking full responsibility.
And regarding the contentious issue of special pardons for two former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye Moon said that now is not the time to discuss the issue as court procedures have just finished and the corruption charges dealt huge damage to the nation and caused enormous pain for Korean people.
He said the issue will require more thought and that it needs public consensus.
Back to you, Conn-young.

Reporter : kimmj@arirang.com


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