Published: 12:14, March 1, 2021 | Updated: 00:15, June 5, 2023
ROK's Moon says Olympics may be chance for DPRK, US talks
By Reuters

President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in speaks during a ceremony to mark the March First Independence Movement Day, the anniversary of the 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule in Seoul, March 1, 2021. (JEWON HEON-KYUN / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

SEOUL - President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in said on Monday that the Tokyo Olympics could provide a chance to reopen talks between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States, DPRK and Japan, and the two Koreas.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 102nd anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement Day in Seoul, Moon also said ROK will work with Japan for the success of the Tokyo Olympics, which could help the two countries recover from the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Seeking to take a page from its 2018 Winter Olympics, Seoul is pinning high hopes on the Tokyo Olympics to revitalize diplomacy with DPRK despite uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic and Pyongyang’s cutoff of exchanges with the outside world

Moon’s speech came as DPRK’s relations with ROK and Japan have soured after its denuclearization negotiations with the United States fell apart in 2019.

ALSO READ: ROK, US, Japan diplomats discuss Korean Peninsula

Seeking to take a page from its 2018 Winter Olympics, Seoul is pinning high hopes on the Tokyo Olympics to revitalize diplomacy with DPRK despite uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic and Pyongyang’s cutoff of exchanges with the outside world.

“The Games scheduled for this year may serve as an opportunity for dialogue between South Korea and Japan, South and North Korea, North Korea and Japan, and North Korea and the United States,” Moon said at a public park in Seoul where independence fighters declared the country’s freedom in 1919 from Japanese colonial rule.

The ROK is also referred to as South Korea, and the DPRK as North Korea.

“I hope that both Korea and Japan will be able to revive our economies, which were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and jointly create a new order in the post-COVID-19 era.”

READ MORE: ROK 'looks at Olympics meet with US, DPRK, Japan'

Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula continues to dog bilateral ties.

In January, a Seoul court for the first time ordered Japan to compensate 12 former “comfort women” who were forced to work in its wartime brothels, following a 2018 ruling by ROK’s Supreme Court that two Japanese firms should compensate some wartime forced laborers.

Both rulings drew a rebuke from Tokyo, which says the women and labor issues were settled under a 2015 deal and 1965 treaty, respectively.

Moon said he was “ready to sit down” for talks with Japanese officials on those issues while seeking “wise solutions based on a victim-centered approach.”

READ MORE: S. Korean president says ready to talk with Japan amid frayed ties

Meanwhile, Moon noted in his speech that ROK launched the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health last year.

He expressed anticipation for DPRK's participation in the initiative, which he believed would become a driving force to create a breakthrough for mutual benefit and peace on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.

"In the fight against COVID-19, we are once again acutely realizing how important the spirit of solidarity, cooperation, multilateralism and inclusiveness are," Moon said.

Moon said international solidarity and cooperation have been indispensable for keeping global supply chains in place, developing COVID-19 vaccines early, and fairly distributing the vaccines to developing countries in order to achieve herd immunity at a global level.

He added that the world will have to seek solutions based on multilateralism not only to overcome the pandemic but also to tackle other global challenges such as climate change. 

With Xinhua inputs