President Moon Jae-in, while reiterating how wrong Japan's measures are, highlighted the need for future-oriented relations, bringing back the importance of a two-track approach to Seoul-Tokyo ties.
During a meeting with his top aides on Monday, he said that because of the great pain that Japan's colonial rule brought upon South Korea in the past, Koreans cannot help but take Japan's economic retaliation seriously.
However, he emphasized the need for people to stay objective and get through the situation.
"We, as a country that experienced great pain from Japan's colonial rule, cannot but take the current economic retaliation by Japan very seriously. However, we cannot be emotional toward the measures. We need to have objectiveness, while thinking about fundamental measures with a deep breath."
Moon added that people are approaching this year's National Liberation Day with an even more determined attitude, because the retaliatory measures stem from the two countries' history.
But he said that South Korea's spirit, while opposing hostile nationalism, aims for equality and peaceful coexistence based on love for humanity.
And for keeping that spirit, the president thanked the Korean people, saying it could help build better ties with its neighbor.
"While opposing Japan's unjust economic retaliation, the people are showing fortitude and a broad point of view to not damage friendly ties between the two countries. If the people of both countries interact through democratic human rights and promote friendship through their love for mankind and peace, the future of South Korea-Japan relations will be even brighter."
"Such remarks by President Moon can be seen as a preview of his National Liberation Day speech, coming up this Thursday. He's expected to repeat the messages he has made so far, criticizing Japan for its economic retaliation, but calling for resolution through dialogue. Park Hee-jun, Arirang News."