A Common Future for the Korean Peninsula

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff (L) with South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society).

The Citi Series on Asian Distinguished Leaders

NEW YORK, September 24, 2008 - The Asia Society and Citi Foundation hosted the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Han Seung-soo, who presented his vision for common prosperity on the Korean peninsula.

Han touted South Korea's achievements in transforming itself from the poor country that emerged following the Korean War into today's 13th-largest economy, attributing the nation's growth to its embrace of democracy and open market reforms. In contrast, Han described how North Korea has become trapped in a vicious cycle of economic stagnation driven by obsolete ideology, and whose economic insecurity has provoked a misguided appeal to nuclear armaments for stability.

Observing that "peace and security almost always flow from economic stability," Han promoted his vision for a new "Korean Economic Community" to advance cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure and education, aiming to raise the living standards of those in the North. Han emphasized, however, that economic development alone will not secure sustainable peace without the accompanied denuclearization of the North.

According to Han, his government's overarching present challenges lie in sharing the South's prosperity and preparing the foundation for reunification based on cooperation and universal values. Recognizing 5,000 years of shared Korean history, Han stressed that "in the end, South Korea is the neighbor whom the North can truly trust and rely on the most," adding "we hope that the North will realize this and make a wise choice."

The discussion was moderated by ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff.

Reported by Laura Chang

Excerpt: Prime Minister Han assesses the prospects for the Free Trade Agreement between South Korea and the US (3 min., 30 sec.)

This text will be replaced


Listen to the complete program (1 hr., 2 min.)

This text will be replaced