Dear colleagues and friends: First of all, I would like to sincerely greet our conference organizers, the Universal Peace Federation for a heavenly unified Korea, headed by the Mother of Peace, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.

I am encouraged by the fact that our important conference is being held with the direct participation and support of such famous political figures of our time as His Excellency, Mr. Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, and His Excellency, the former UN secretary-general, Mr. Ban Ki-moon.

As a lot has been said and written about the problem of the unification of Korea, from our point of view in the current situation it makes sense to look at the problem through the prism of the presidential election campaign in the Republic of Korea. Who will win—the representative of the ruling political camp, Mr. Lee Jae-myung, or the leader of the opposition, Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol—to a large extent will affect the general line regarding both relations with North Korea and, in perspective, the main approach to prospects for the unification of Korea during the next five years.

As is known, if we, of course, simplify the policy review, then we will see that in the Republic of Korea there are two main conceptions or approaches to the Korean unification problem. The first one is the so-called German Variant; that means instant absorption of North Korea. The second one means unification through a relatively prolonged period of peaceful coexistence of the two Koreas and the growth of cooperation, gradual rapprochement and convergence. Traditionally believed, the supporter of the first approach is the right-wing conservative camp, whose representative today is Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol. And the democratic camp of progressives, with its leader today in the person of Lee Jae-myung, supports the second line.

The cost of absorption is objectively fraught with high risk or reiteration of the situation right after the big war. The other course—the course of the former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun and the current president, Mr. Moon Jae-in—is aimed at stressing peace on the Korean Peninsula through the expansion of peace and cooperation with Pyongyang.

In this regard, I would like to emphasize that my regular contact and conversations with North Korean diplomats in Moscow indicate that Pyongyang has a deep interest in the election in South Korea.

As is well known, North Korea officially declares that it does not care who wins in South Korea, because, according to its position, any president of the Republic of Korea will not be independent in relations with North Korea and will be simply a conductor of the U.S. policy. However, in fact Pyongyang is carefully studying the election campaign in South Korea, and it de facto wishes for Mr. Lee Jae-myung’s victory. The reason, as recorded in North Korean assessments, is that the appearance of Mr. Lee Jae-myung in the Blue House will give more chances to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

I also can add that, to my mind, if Mr. Lee Jae-myung wins, there will be more real opportunities to sign a declaration of the end of the Korean War, which is being promoted persistently by the current president of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Moon Jae-in.

In our opinion, this is a factor that deserves attention from the point of view of inter-Korean relations and the future of unification of Korea on the whole. In regard to the Russian approach to Korean unification prospects, I would like to emphasize the following: Due to the core national interests Russia is concerned with maintaining peace and safety, security on the Korean Peninsula, friendly relations with both states on the Korean Peninsula and with a unified state. The optimal variant of realization of this goal will be the unification of Korea.

In comparison with other key interested states, Russia is more in favor of the prospect of Korean unification—but under the condition that the unification should be carried out peacefully. Such a political cause was confirmed recently. The deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. Igor Morgulov, in an interview with the Russian News Agency TASS on January 28, 2022, outlined: “If the Americans and their allies want negotiations on the conditional unilateral disarmament of the DPRK, with an eye to subsequent regime change in this country, no dialogue will work. If the United States returns to the policy of strategic patience of the Obama era, which was based on the expectations that sanctions pressure would force the DPRK to surrender, then ultimately such costs will only lead to an escalation of tension and a new round of the arms race in the region.”

And he continued: “The only way to avoid such a scenario is to move forward, but not backward, along the roadmap to strengthen trust, normalize bilateral relations, discuss security guarantees, and build a peace regime, which is provided by both Russian and Chinese initiatives and the Singapore Statement between the leaders of the DPRK and the United States on June 12, 2018.” Inter-Korean summits, resolutions and declarations—the Russian deputy foreign minister concluded that denuclearization on the Peninsula can be constructively discussed only in this context.

It’s not difficult to understand that and to see that such ideas could correspond fully to Russia’s support of the idea of the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

Dr. Aleksandr Vorontsov, Head, Dept. of Korean and Mongolian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Dr. Aleksandr Vorontsov, Head, Dept. of Korean and Mongolian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Dr Alexander Vorontsov, Head of the Department for Korean and Mongolian Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russia Academy of Sciences; MGIMO-University associate professor. First Deputy Chairman of the Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations between the Russian Federation and the DPRK. Served as second secretary in the Russian Federation’s Embassy in Pyongyang from 2000 to 2002. He was visiting professor at the Hanguk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul from 1998 to 2000; at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan in 2009 and 2012, at the Akita International University, Japan in 2015.

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