Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung said Tuesday he personally hopes the normalization of Japan-North Korea ties can be discussed at the inter-Korean summit next month.

At an event hosted by New York’s Korea Society, Kim said he hopes the abductee issue will also be discussed during the upcoming event.

“Once (the North Koreans) normalize their relations with Japan, they will also be able to gain some resources from Japan, which will amount to about $10 billion,” said Kim, 81. He added that companies from Europe and the United States “should make inroads into the North Korean economy.”

“I think North Korea has . . . resources, very abundant and practical underground mineral resources, and North Korea has a very good labor force which is cheaper than in other countries,” he said.

Kim said South Korean authorities want to have “in-depth discussions and consultations” with their North Korean counterparts on economic development issues as soon as the nuclear issue is resolved.

Kim, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 in recognition of his reconciliation efforts with the North, also praised U.S. President George W. Bush for his willingness to pursue direct dialogue with Pyongyang, saying, “I wholeheartedly welcome this wise decision.”

Bush has said the U.S. is willing to conclude a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War if North Korea scraps its nuclear programs.

“I firmly believe that ‘going nuclear’ is not North Korea’s purpose. Once the United States guarantees security assurance, lifting of economic sanctions and normalization of relations, North Korea will give up its nuclear ambitions completely,” Kim said.

He credited Bush for the Feb. 13 six-party agreement in which the North agreed to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility in exchange for fuel aid and steps toward normalization of relations with the U.S. and Japan.

The facilities in Yongbyon, about 90 km from Pyongyang, were shut down and sealed in July.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.