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(LEAD) Moon stresses nation's leadership in shaping future of Korean Peninsula

Politics 13:30 February 26, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of government decision to posthumously award country's highest medal to Ryu Gwan-sun in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in reiterated the importance of his country's leadership in deciding the fate of the country and the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday as the country is set to mark a key independence movement day this week.

"The Republic of Korea has accomplished a lot. One hundred years ago, we fell to the colonial rule as we were unable to decide our own fate amid a struggle between powerful nations," the president said in a Cabinet meeting held at the Kim Koo memorial museum and library in downtown Seoul.

The meeting marked the first-ever Cabinet meeting to be held outside of a public facility, according to the president.

It came as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement on Friday and also the centennial of the establishment of the Provisional Government of Korea on April 11.

Kim Koo is the first head of the provisional government set up in China under Japan's colonial 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

President Moon Jae-in (C) speaks in a weekly Cabinet meeting at the Kim Koo Museum and Library in downtown Seoul on Feb. 26, 2019. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (C) speaks in a weekly Cabinet meeting at the Kim Koo Museum and Library in downtown Seoul on Feb. 26, 2019. (Yonhap)

"But today, our status in the international community has completely changed," Moon told the meeting, according to pool reports.

The president noted the country has become the world's seventh nation with more than 50 million people to reach over US$30,000 in per capita income.

"What is more important than anything else is that we have come to be able to take the lead of changes ourselves," he said.

"We are no longer in the periphery of history. I hope we will open a new era with pride and confidence that the strength to decide and open the next 100 years rests in us," the president added.

On Monday, Moon vowed efforts to prepare for a possible resumption of inter-Korean economic cooperation, a move he said would mean the country taking the fate of the Korean Peninsula into its own hands.

Moon's remarks came as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to hold their second meeting this week that is widely expected to help accelerate the North's denuclearization process.

Moon has repeatedly expressed hope for the success of the second U.S.-North Korea summit, set to be held in Hanoi on Wednesday and Thursday, but says where the divided Koreas will go after the North's denuclearization must largely be decided by his country and the North.

Moon has held three bilateral summits with Kim since taking office in May 2017. The North Korean leader has also promised to visit Seoul for their fourth meeting.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting chaired by the president approved a move to posthumously confer the country's highest medal of honor on Ryu Gwan-sun, a symbol of the March 1st Independence Movement.

Ryu will be awarded the Republic of Korea Medal, the highest order of merit for national foundation, possibly at the upcoming ceremony to mark the independence movement staged 100 years ago Friday.

Previously, the late independence fighter was given the Independence Medal, the third-highest order, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.


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