Outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday called for the resumption of dialogue with North Korea in a farewell speech ahead of the inauguration of conservative Yoon Suk-yeol.
“Peace is a requirement for our survival, a requirement for prosperity,” Moon said during a speech at the Blue House, the South Korean presidential residence in Seoul.
“I sincerely hope that the efforts to denuclearize and institutionalize peace will continue with the resumption of dialogue between the South and the North,” he added.
Moon said his five-year term helped transform “a pre-war crisis on the Korean peninsula”, referring to the 2017 exchange of threats of attacks between Pyongyang and Washington into a “dialogue phase”.
Moon’s role as a mediator was instrumental in getting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then US President Donald Trump to hold a series of historic summits in 2018.
Moon himself, in turn, met with Kim three times.
However, the failure of the disarmament dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington in 2019 caused the North Korean regime to sever contacts with the US and South Korea.
Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, who will assume the presidency at midnight (3 pm on Monday in Lisbon), offered dialogue to Pyongyang, but at the same time promised to be less tolerant of “provocations” from the North.
North Korea has carried out 15 projectile launches since the beginning of the year, the last of which was on Saturday.
Observers indicated that, in recent months, satellite images show signs that the North is preparing for a nuclear test at facilities in the northeast of the country.
In late April, Pyongyang’s state news agency reported that Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in exchanged letters and expressed hope in improving relations between the two countries.
KCNA said Moon told Kim he would continue to campaign for Korean reunification even after he left office.