(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks, more information in last 6 paras)
SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for stepped-up efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all people, asserting the building of the nation that began 100 years ago will be completed when all people fully and equally enjoy the benefits of development.
Moon's remarks came as the country celebrates the centennial of the establishment of its provisional government on Thursday.
"The Provisional Government of Korea is the origin of the Republic of Korea, the driving force that created what is now the Republic of Korea," the president said in a Cabinet meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.
The provisional government was set up 100 years ago on April 11 in China while the country was under the colonial rule of Japan that lasted between 1910 and 1945.
Moon said the country has come a long way since its liberation to become one of the most advanced nations in the world, noting the country has become the world's seventh nation ever to have more than 50 million in population and per capita income of over US$30,000.
"Our history of developing democracy while realizing the sovereignty of the people is also amazing," the president told the meeting, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
"A country that has succeeded in both economic development and democratization, that is how the world views our country. Many countries wish to learn about our development experience. We well deserve to have pride," he added.
The president, however, said the country may have not reached the end state of its national building.
"The national achievement we have made over the past 100 years under the name of Republic of Korea must now be completed by improving the people's lives. The fruits of our national achievement that was made possible by the sweat of the people must be returned to the people," said Moon.
To this end, the president vowed efforts to build a fair and equal nation.
"We can no longer allow a society where the people are forced to sacrifice. We must remove the shadow of economic inequality and polarization and move toward a society where all people are well off," he said.
The president also vowed additional efforts to peacefully denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
"We are now moving toward the Korean Peninsula peace process. I will visit the United States tomorrow for a South Korea-U.S. summit. I will do my utmost for an early resumption of North Korea-U.S. talks," Moon said.
In the first Cabinet meeting held after a massive fire that engulfed the country's east coast, the president stressed the need for efforts to prevent such disasters while calling for all-out support for the victims.
"Globally, forest fires are becoming more frequent and more powerful. I ask you to take special care in finding the causes of forest fires and preventing them," he said.
The fire, which began in the northeastern city of Goseong on Thursday, quickly spread to four other cities and counties in Gangwon Province, leaving one person dead and about a dozen injured while also displacing thousands of people.
Moon offered his condolences to the victims.
"I offer my deep consolation to the bereaved family. I also offer my consolation to the people in the affected areas who may be suffering after losing homes overnight," he said.
"Enhancing the public safety and national disaster management system requires budget spending. I ask to first provide emergency relief and compensation for damage from the reserve fund and secure the budget needed to enhance the public safety system by reflecting this in a supplementary budget if necessary," the president added.
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