TOKYO -- With the two recent inter-Korean summits and the highly anticipated U.S.-North Korea summit meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Singapore, the North Korea question is starting to change, South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Kim Dong-yeon said on Monday, noting that many bridges to the isolated nation need to be built to strengthen Asia's economy as a whole.
The international community has a "consensus to help North Korea" and "we need to make the wise decision to build the bridge, and this needs to be built by [South] Korea, by Japan and Asian countries," Kim said at the 24th International Conference on the Future of Asia. The two-day forum is being organized by Nikkei.
Kim suggested that South Korea, China and Japan -- along with other countries and international organizations -- should create a multilateral fund to assist North Korea. He also proposed the lifting of economic sanctions against Pyongyang.
However, the deputy prime minister sounded a note of caution over the summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "Just because a sparrow flew in from the north, that doesn't mean spring will come necessarily," he said. "We have to watch the situation."
Kim defined the condition of nations' power, saying that "accepting diversity creates opportunity for inclusiveness and innovation."
He noted that while Asia is home to 60% of the world's population, its share of gross domestic product is just 35%. Kim said the wide range of gross national income, or GNI, per capita in Asia reflects the region's diversity, which will work as the engine for its potential development.
Looking at the changes in global economic growth, Kim underscored that South Korea's role would be one of example for the development of Asian countries. He noted that countries in the region are following the same path of South Korean GNI per capita, concluding that "Korea's experience can help development of Asian countries."
Kim said that South Korea will continue its knowledge sharing program, or KSP, that it began in 2004, with the aim of assisting emerging countries. Its programs have expanded to handle 591 projects through 2017, he said.