Quick access to top menu Direct access to main contents Quick access to page bottom

President Yoon Criticizes North Korea, Emphasizes Strengthening Relations with Allies

Stressed enhancement of relations between South Korea, the U.S., and Japan “Kishida is an honest politician”… mentioned the South Korea-China relations just in principle

On January 7, President Yoon Suk Yeol repeatedly criticized North Korea as an “irrational and unreasonable force” during a recorded broadcast of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) TV New Year special interview. He said he would not engage in “showy diplomacy or political agendas for show” regarding the South-North Korean summit.

In the KBS “KBS Special Interview: Inside the Presidential Office,” President Yoon expressed his views on North Korea-South Korea relations, stating, “I believe that [North Korea] is not rational or reasonable as a political group running a country.”

Furthermore, he added, “Because they are irrational and unreasonable forces, they could come to an irrational and unreasonable conclusion when they provoke us, threatening our security. We need to prepare with this assumption in mind.”

President Yoon pointed out that North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un’s definition of South Korea and North Korea as “hostile two states” is a significant shift from the principle of a “single-race” to so-called “two states.”

However, he added, “We cannot judge their underlying thoughts based solely on North Korea’s claims. As the President responsible for national security, it is necessary to meticulously analyze North Korea’s military power, economic situation, and scientific and technological capabilities, rather than just judging based on North Korea’s claims.”

Regarding the intention to push for a South-North Korean summit, he said, “We can have a South-North Korean summit whether North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons or not.” But he also added, “However, to do so, it is difficult to use a top-down approach. We must have exchanges and discussions between working-level officials, prepare agendas, and prepare results before a summit. Simply pushing for it will not lead to any conclusions or gains, and it could be just for show.”

President Yoon mentioned former Presidents Kim Dae Jung, Roh Moo Hyun, and Moon Jae In, who held South-North Korean summits, saying, “All three tried hard to improve the North Korea-South Korea relations, but when we look back now, we have to say that there were no gains.”

President Yoon also commented on the independent nuclear armament raised in some conservative circles, calling it “an unrealistic story.” He said, “It won’t take long if we decide to [arm ourselves with nuclear weapons]. However, comprehensively judging the country’s operation, it is more in line with national interests to strictly comply with the NPT.”

“Prime Minister Kishida is an honest and sincere politician”

Regarding foreign policy, President Yoon avoided giving a concrete answer to the possibility of former President Donald Trump’s re-election in the U.S. presidential election, saying, “As a President, it is not appropriate to predict or mention the election results of an allied country.”

However, he said, “The basic principle of U.S. foreign policy does not swing back and forth. [Even if President Trump is elected,] it will be a matter of strengthening and upgrading the US-South Korea alliance, and there will be no big change.”

During the interview, a clip of President Yoon singing the song “American Pie” during his visit to the U.S. last year was played, and President Yoon explained the story behind his singing.

In addition to the US-South Korea relations, he actively responded to the improvement of the South Korea-Japan relations, for which he made many efforts in his foreign policy. President Yoon praised, “Prime Minister Kishida is the leader I have met the most. He is sincere and diligent and a politician with sincerity in everything.”

President Yoon said about the ongoing rulings acknowledging the compensation responsibility of Japanese companies for forced labor victims, “Whether the compensation ruling is correct or not is a final judicial decision that does not need to be debated now.” He also stated, “Regardless of this ruling, the relationship between South Korea and Japan has been restored and is moving forward to the future.”

Regarding the relationship between South Korea and China, he said, “The basic national policy and foreign policy between the Republic of Korea and China are not different.” He added, “There were some issues like the DEF incident, but such problems are being managed in a short period, and I don’t think there is anything to worry about the South Korea-China relations.”

He also mentioned his meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang at the G20 summit: “Both of them said they respect free trade and multilateralism, and I also said I respect free trade and multilateralism.” He added, “Mutual respect, an international order based on norms, and common prosperity. These are all based on the same foundation.”

However, he did not give a specific answer to the possibility of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Korea within the year. There were no particular questions and answers about the recently deteriorated South Korea-Russia relations in the interview.

▲President Yoon Suk Yeol is introducing the second-floor lobby, where gifts from foreign leaders are displayed, to KBS anchor Park Jang Beom after the recording of the “KBS Special Interview: Inside the Presidential Office” at the Presidential Office Building in Yongsan, Seoul, on the 4th. ⓒYonhap News

The Serious Accidents Punishment Act is a situation that small and medium-sized companies find difficult to bear

On the other hand, President Yoon mentioned expanding the quota of medical schools in domestic policy, saying, “It’s something we can no longer delay.”

President Yoon said, “Due to the aging of our country, the demand for doctors is increasing, so we need to increase the number of doctors.”

He added, “Past governments have been too conscious of elections and viewed this issue only as a conflict of understanding between patients and patients’ families, as medical consumers, and medical staff.” He emphasized the purpose of medical reform, saying, “In my view, it’s a way for patients, patients’ families, and medical staff to coexist.”

President Yoon also commented on the deferral of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act for workplaces with 50 or fewer employees, which he entrusted to the National Assembly, saying, “The safety of workers is undoubtedly the most important value.” However, he also said, “The Serious Accidents Punishment Act has a very high level of punishment, and the scope of responsibility is greatly expanded, so it is tough for small and medium-sized companies to bear this.”

He also said, “Even if we strengthen punishment and expand the scope of responsibility, there have been no empirical positive results so far as to whether the safety accidents of workers decrease.”

President Yoon then spoke about measures to combat high prices, saying, “We can’t help but feel that people’s real wages and disposable income decrease when prices rise. Therefore, we plan to actively manage prices by easing regulations and implementing supply policies for people’s necessities and living prices.”

As a measure against the low birth rate problem, such as the total fertility rate falling to 0.6%, he said, “First of all, we need to come up with measures with a goal of 1.0%,” but he did not mention any specific alternatives.

President Yoon said, “We have learned that just because we have good policies, the birth rate does not necessarily increase,” and added, “We are trying to approach from the perspective that we need to live with values that value the family and respect humanism.”

Eugene Park's Profile image




Share it on