On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in made some astonishing promises and predictions at a speech commemorating the 74th anniversary of Liberation Day, the day when the U.S. freed Korea from Japanese rule at the end of World War II. Moon promised that he would achieve the denuclearization of North Korea by the end of his term in 2022 and he predicted that North and South Korea would reunite by 2045.
“As we commemorate the Liberation Day today, I pledge to solidify denuclearization and peace regime on the Korean Peninsula during my term in office. I will initiate the peace economy upon this foundation and move toward unification,” the president declared, according to a transcript published by Yonhap News Agency.
“The peace economy begins with the efforts to continue dialogue and cooperation so that North Korea can choose economic prosperity over nuclear program upon the foundation of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he added.
Moon pledged “to solidify the foundation so that we can successfully host the joint 2032 Seoul-Pyeongyang Olympics and stand tall in the world as one Korea by achieving peace and unification by 2045, which will mark the 100th anniversary of liberation.”
In recent years, U.S. President Donald Trump and Korean President Moon have made historic progress in meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. In June, Trump made history by becoming the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, after liberals warned that Trump’s bravado toward Kim might start World War III. Americans have justly given Trump high marks for his progress on North Korea.
Moon’s promises may be overly optimistic. Despite key diplomatic progress, the two Koreas are still extremely different, and North Korea has a long way to go in proving that its history of repression is nearly over. That said, predictions like this would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.