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Message from the DIrector

During the first two months of 2018, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has been changing drastically. Since last year, the crisis on the Korean Peninsula has been at its highest level ever due to the North Korean regime’s focus on the acceleration of nuclear missile development. Ultimately, the regime announced on November 29, 2017 that it had completed its nuclear forces. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has responded to this with a strong North Korean policy comprised of sanctions and pressure, pushing the tensions on the Korean Peninsula to rise even higher. However, I believe that the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is paving the way for inter-Korean dialogue and sprouting the bud of peace on the Korean Peninsula. This is especially evident in how the leaders of the two Koreas were able to conduct indirect dialogue through high-level North Korean representatives that came to participate in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. This particularly cold winter is not over yet, but I believe that a spring bursting with life will soon be upon us.

Looking at it through the lens of someone who has worked in the fields of North Korean policy and inter-Korean dialogue and exchange, and as someone who has gained much experience and conducted much research while teaching at various universities, I believe that we have to take this transformative moment and use it as an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula. I believe that as a situation changes, opportunity changes with it. Difficult situations require us to take on even heavier burdens and to make an even greater effort. Each Korea has its own way of thinking, and the more intertwined neighboring countries become in the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the more we have to keep our balance and take the leading role. We must focus all of our capabilities onto igniting the embers of good relations between the North and South and onto achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula. When considering the sudden changes that are happening both inside and outside the Peninsula, I believe more research is needed in order to find a strategy that can allow us to overcome these changes and create a new chapter in inter-Korean relations.

This year is the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement. Half a century later, the peace we have maintained on the Korean Peninsula has been an insecure peace. This insecure peace has become an obstacle to the improvement of inter-Korean relations. Now we must transform this insecure peace into a more stable one. Through the construction of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, we must lay a sturdy foundation so that peace can stabilize. In the same light, we must solve the problems.

During the past 45 odd years since the founding of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, we have continuously worked to help realize a better future for the Korean Peninsula by focusing our research on the North Korean and reunification issues. Just as we always have, the Institute for Far Eastern Studies will continue to lead the way in creating a better future for the Korean Peninsula. By cooperating with distinguished institutions both domestically and internationally, we will lead the discussion revolving around the North Korean and reunification issues. We are committed to conducting in-depth research in order to contribute to the establishment of a stable peace on the Korean Peninsula, to the settlement of the North Korean nuclear missile issue, and to the betterment and development of inter-Korean relations. The results of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies act as the foundation for a better future for the Korean Peninsula in not only the short-term, but also in the medium- and long-term. We will redouble our efforts to conduct in-depth research in order achieve these results.

I feel the great responsibility that comes with becoming the director of an institute with such a brilliant history and tradition. I will do my best to uphold the reputation of the institute and its achievements. I appreciate your encouragement and support. Thank you.

February 21, 2018
Director of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University