Mr Mayor, Nobel Peace Laureates, ladies and gentlemen
Most of the Nobel Peace Prizes have, over the years, been awarded to those who have made exceptional contributions to three principal causes – peace-making, freedom and the abolition on nuclear weapons.
I can think of no other country that is more at the confluence of these causes than South Korea. Almost 70 years after the Korean War your people remain divided because there is still no peace between the North and the South.
In no part of the world is the contrast between freedom and the lack of freedom more starkly evident than on the Korean peninsula. In the South you have established one of the twenty freest societies in the world. Your people enjoy the full spectrum of human rights. They decide, in regular elections, who will govern them.
Freedom has enabled South Korea to make spectacular economic and social progress. It has the 12th largest economy in the world with a per capita income of US$ 35 000. It produces a vast array of world-class automobiles and electronic and IT products.
The contrast with the North could not be more stark. The people in the North are governed by a self-perpetuating dynasty and every aspect of their lives is regulated by a rigid and all-embracing ideology. The genius of the Korean people north of the border is channelled into the production of armaments, missiles and nuclear weapons. The difference between the two societies can be clearly seen from space at night -with the north in darkness and the South pulsating with energy and light.
Finally, South Korea is relevant to peace because it reminds us of the threat of nuclear conflict. The nuclear weapons and missiles developed by the North pose a threat not only to the peninsula and the region. They remind us of the far greater threat posed by the massive nuclear arsenals of existing weapons states.
If there is just a one per cent possibility of the war in Ukraine leading to the use of strategic nuclear weapons, this would constitute the greatest immediate threat to humanity that we can imagine. Who would board an aircraft it there were a one per cent chance of it crashing? What if the aircraft carried billions of people?
For all these reasons I can think of no better place to convene this Summit – and no better city than Pyeongchang. Your city has already proved its commitment to peace-making and unification by hosting the Winter Olympics when athletes from the North and the South joined with one another in friendly competition with the rest of the world. We have also been overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmth of the people of Pyeongchang in welcoming us to their city – which richly deserves it designation as the 2022 World City of Peace.