Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Last year was a stirring year which witnessed a dramatic change unprecedented in the history of national division spanning over 70 years.
With a determination to usher in an era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity by putting an end to the abnormal state on the Korean peninsula which had suffered a constant war crisis, we took proactive and bold measures to effect a great turn in north-south relations from the outset of last year.
It is unprecedented that three rounds of inter-Korean summit meetings and talks were held in a year amid great expectations and interest of peoples at home and abroad, and this clearly showed that north-south relations entered a completely new stage.
The Panmunjom Declaration, the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the north-south agreement in the military field, which were adopted by reflecting the firm resolve and will to usher in an era of peace in which war exists no longer on the Korean peninsula, are of great significance as a virtual nonaggression declaration in which north and south have committed themselves to terminating fratricidal war based on force of arms.
While sportspersons of north and south displayed the wisdom and strength of the nation by jointly entering international competitions, artistes came and went to Pyongyang and Seoul to fire the enthusiasm for national reconciliation and reunification.
We took the significant first step towards common prosperity of the nation by promoting cooperation projects in various fields including railways, road, forestry and public health while resolutely overcoming manifold obstacles and difficulties.
The surprising changes which took place in inter-Korean relations last year convinced all the fellow countrymen that when they join minds and efforts, they can turn the Korean peninsula into the true home of the nation, which is the most peaceful and will prosper forever.
Though it was the initial step, north and south pooled intentions and wisdom to surely reverse inter-Korean relations in the utmost extremes of distrust and confrontation to those of trust and reconciliation and make in a short time eye-opening achievements which were unimaginable in the past. I am very satisfied with that.
In the New Year 2019 we should make greater strides in our efforts to boost inter-Korean relations, achieve peace and prosperity and reunify the country on the basis of the priceless achievements we made last year which was wonderfully adorned with unprecedented events.
All the nationals should hold high the slogan "Let us usher in a heyday of peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula by thoroughly implementing the historic north-south declarations!"
It is our steadfast will to eradicate military hostility between north and south and make the Korean peninsula a durable and lasting peace zone.
North and south, as they agreed, should take practical measures proactively to remove military hostility on the whole of the Korean peninsula, including the ground, airspace and sea, as a follow-up to its ending in the areas of confrontation.
Given that north and south committed themselves to advancing along the road of peace and prosperity, we maintain that the joint military exercises with foreign forces, which constitute the source of aggravating the situation on the Korean peninsula, should no longer be permitted and the introduction of war equipment including strategic assets from outside should completely be suspended.
It is also needed to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation.
All the fellow countrymen should unite as one, being conscious that the master of peace on the peninsula is our nation, in order to wage a powerful struggle to check and frustrate all the moves that wreck peace and incite military tension on this land.
Inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges should be expanded and developed in an all-round way so that national reconciliation and unity can be consolidated and all the fellow countrymen can practically benefit from improved north-south relations.
For the present, we are willing to resume the Kaesong Industrial Park and Mt Kumgang tourism without any precondition and in return for nothing, in consideration of the hard conditions of businesspersons of the south side who had advanced into the Kaesong Industrial Park and the desire of southern compatriots who are eager to visit the nation's celebrated mountain.
When north and south join hands firmly and rely on the united strength of the fellow countrymen, no external sanctions and pressure, challenges and trials will be able to hinder us in our efforts to open a broad avenue to national prosperity.
We will never tolerate the interference and intervention of outside forces that stand in the way of national reconciliation, unity and reunification with the design to subordinate inter-Korean relations to their tastes and interests.
North and south should not pass up the favourable atmosphere of today when all the nationals' interest in and aspiration for reunification are growing unprecedentedly, but actively try to find a peaceful reunification plan based on nationwide agreement and direct sincere efforts to this end.
All the fellow countrymen in north, south and abroad should further accelerate in high spirits the nationwide advance for implementing the north-south declarations, and thus glorify this year as a historic one when another radical change is brought about in the development of inter-Korean relations and implementation of the cause of national reunification.
Last year, our Party and the government of our Republic exerted responsible efforts to safeguard the peace and security of the world and expand and strengthen friendship with different countries.
The three rounds of our visit to the People's Republic of China and the Cuban delegation's visit to our country were remarkable events in boosting strategic communication and traditional ties of friendship and cooperation among the socialist countries.
Last year, frequent visits and exchanges were made on Party, state and government levels between the DPRK and many countries of the world, with the result that they deepened mutual understanding and confirmed the stand and will to promote sound development of the international community.
The historic, first-ever DPRK-US summit meeting and talks brought about a dramatic turn in the bilateral relationship which was the most hostile on the earth and made a great contribution to ensuring peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region.
It is the invariable stand of our Party and the government of our Republic and my firm will to establish a new bilateral relationship that meets the demand of the new era as clarified in the June 12 DPRK-US Joint Statement, build a lasting and durable peace regime and advance towards complete denuclearization.
Accordingly, we declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them, and we have taken various practical measures.
If the US responds to our proactive, prior efforts with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions, bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and epochal measures.
We have no intention to be obsessed with and keep up the unsavoury past relationship between the two countries, but are ready to fix it as early as possible and work to forge a new relationship in line with the aspirations of the two peoples and the requirements of the developing times.
As evidenced by the reality of north-south relations that made rapid progress last year, nothing is impossible to a willing heart, and dialogue partners will reach the destinations that are beneficial to each other without fail if they put forward fair proposals on the principle of recognizing and respecting each other by abandoning their dogged insistence broadminded and conduct negotiations with a proper stand and the will to settle issues.
I want to believe that our relations with the United States will bear good fruit this year, as inter-Korean relations have greeted a great turn, by the efforts of the two sides.
I am of the opinion that, while meeting and holding talks beneficial to both sides with the US president in June last year, we exchanged constructive views and reached a consensus of understanding for a shortcut to removing each other's apprehensions and resolving the entangled problems.
I am ready to meet the US president again anytime, and will make efforts to obtain without fail results which can be welcomed by the international community.
But if the United States does not keep the promise it made in the eyes of the world, and out of miscalculation of our people's patience, it attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure against our Republic, we may be compelled to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.
The stabilized situation on the Korean peninsula and in the region is never something that has been created with ease, and the countries that are truly desirous of peace have the common responsibility for setting great store by the current situation. The neighbouring countries and international community have to support our sincere stand and efforts for promoting the positive development of the situation on the Korean peninsula and fight against all practices and challenges that wreck peace and run counter to justice.
Our Party and the government of our Republic will continue to bolster up unity and cooperation with the socialist countries and develop relations with all countries that are friendly to us under the ideals of independence, peace and friendship.
We are beginning the journey of the New Year as we brace ourselves once again with the resolve to work devotedly for our country, our motherland, and the happier laughter of younger generations.
What we are convinced of once again as we proudly review the past year when we made rapid progress while paving our way by our own efforts with belief in our own strength in the face of harsh economic blockade and sanctions, is the truth that our state is fully capable of dynamically advancing along the road of development of socialism of our own style by dint of our people's great strength and efforts, without any external assistance or any other's help.
This year, too, we will face constant obstacles and challenges in our progress, but no one can change our determination and will and stop our vigorous advance and our people will successfully achieve their beautiful ideals and goals without fail.
Let us all work energetically and with one mind and will for the prosperity and development of the genuine people's country, the socialist motherland.