Located alongside the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is the birthplace of the United Nations (established in the city after the World War I) and it is also the place where Korean independence fighters took up residence. President Roh Tae-woo made his way to this historic city for the Korea-Soviet Union summit. San Francisco officially declared June 3rd as “President Roh Tae-woo Day” to welcome him to the city. The Fairmont Hotel, where the president stayed, was also the site of the Korea – Soviet Union Summit which was held on the morning of June 5th (KST). The world’s attention was turned towards the Fairmont Hotel when Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev arrived. During the summit, which lasted 1 hour and 5 minutes, the two leaders agreed to develop their bilateral relationship into a diplomatic one. President Roh assured President Gorbachev that South Korea does not want to isolate North Korea, and he encouraged the Soviet Union’s leader to promote his country’s relationship with the North to the same extent that it does with the South. At the press conference following the summit, President Roh explained that the ultimate goal is to achieve the coexistence and co-prosperity of the two Koreas until unification is realized. He also asked that the Soviet Union urge North Korea to come out into the world.
“Gorbachev and I agreed that efforts to normalize the bilateral relationship between Korea and the Soviet Union are off to a good start and that the relationship should evolve into a full diplomatic one. We further agreed that we will develop our bilateral relationship in all areas including diplomacy, economy, science and technology, and culture. With the summit today, our two nations will open a new chapter by leaving behind the unfortunate history and disruption of 86 years.”
The summit is expected to provide a dramatic shift in the relations between Korea and the Soviet Union, and it will create the required momentum to end the Cold War on the Korean peninsula and pave the way for unification.
June is the month of national defense and veterans. We should take the time to pay homage to the patriots who fell to defend our country and its people, and to show affection for our fatherland. This year marks the 35th Memorial Day and the 40th anniversary of the Korean War, making it a time to reflect on the meaning of the Korean War in our history. A monument was erected on Baekmagoji Peak, one of the goriest battlefields of the Korean War, to mark the area as a war memorial site. Veterans gathered in Sanmyeong-ri, Cheolwon-eub to recollect the ferocious battle. The Battle of Baekmagoji occurred on a 395-meter peak and resulted in 20,000 casualties. The owner of the peak changed 12 times during the 10 days in October of 1952 when ceasefire talks were going on. After the bloody battle, the Korean Army defeated the three Divisions of the Chinese Army to win a victory in the Iron Triangle. Forty years have now passed since this horrific battle, and the young people who did not experience the Korea War are visiting old battlefields in order to learn more. In June, the month to remember the sufferings of our nation, it is very important to teach the lessons of history to the younger generations – which make up 80 percent of the total population – that did not experience the Korean War first-hand.
Mankind today enjoys unprecedented material affluence due to scientific, societal and cultural advancements. There are consequences to such advancements, one of the major ones being serious environmental pollution. On the 18th World Environment Day, which was designated by the United Nations, a commemorative ceremony was held by the Ministry of Environment and environmental groups held exhibitions and street campaigns. Environmental pollution is a very serious problem for Korea now, as is the water pollution that is mainly caused by the use of synthetic detergents in households. Ten million tons of domestic sewage a day accounts for 68 percent of total water waste. Household sewage and human waste contaminate rivers and underground water supplies. The use of synthetic detergent should be reduced, leftover cooking oil should be soaked up with paper and thrown into trash cans and food waste should not be dumped in sewage ditches.