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(LEAD) Moon says peace can only be built on strong defense

2018/09/14 14:51

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SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Friday urged stepped-up efforts to reform the country's military and build up its defense capabilities, insisting that lasting peace requires strong capabilities to defend it.

The call came as Moon is set to visit North Korea next week for what would be his third bilateral summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Moon earlier said he will seek to further reduce military tension on the Korean Peninsula.

"I will travel to Pyongyang next week for the third inter-Korean summit," the president said in a ceremony held on the southern island of Geoje to mark the launch of a new 3,000-ton Changbogo-III class submarine, named the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho after the country's prominent independence fighter.

Moon will visit Pyongyang from Tuesday through Thursday. His meeting with Kim will mark the third of its kind following their meetings held in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27 and May 26. It will mark the fifth inter-Korean summit in history.

President Moon Jae-in (front row, fourth from L) celebrates the launch of the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, a 3,000-ton diesel-powered submarine, in a launch ceremony held in Geoje, South Korea, on Sept. 14, 2018. (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in (front row, fourth from L) celebrates the launch of the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, a 3,000-ton diesel-powered submarine, in a launch ceremony held in Geoje, South Korea, on Sept. 14, 2018. (Yonhap)

"We have launched a great journey toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of lasting peace, and are paving a new path with our bold imagination," the president said.

"However, peace is never automatically given. We must make peace and defend peace ourselves. Peace through power is the unwavering security policy our government is pursuing," he said. "Our path to peace will not end when accompanied by a strong military and strong defense."

   The Dosan Ahn Chang-ho is a diesel-powered, air-independent submarine indigenously developed and built by South Korea that is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2020.

Moon stressed the need to continue building such strategic weapons systems even in times of peace and ongoing rapprochement with North Korea, calling the new submarine a new Geobukseon or turtle ship, of today.

The turtle ship is a large traditional Korean warship, known to be designed by the legendary Korean naval commander, Adm. Yi Sun-shin (1545-1598).

"Adm. Yi Sun-shin enhanced the country's naval power by building turtle ships and other warships when no one else was preparing for an invasion. He saved his country by preparing for the worst when it seemed unnecessary," Moon told the launch ceremony for the new submarine.

The president also stressed the need to restore and further improve the competitiveness of the country's shipbuilding industry, noting 99.7 percent of the country's imports and exports are currently moved through the sea.

"We must take a leap to again become a strong maritime power," Moon said. "We must restore the shipbuilding industry to become the world's No. 1 again."

   bdk@yna.co.kr

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