During Monday's New Year press conference, President Moon Jae-in reaffirmed his determination to get his peace initiative back on track saying that the new administration in Washington is a fresh opportunity for talks between North Korea and the U.S., as well as the two Koreas.
Moon said he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is still committed to achieve peace and denuclearization if the regime's security can be assured.
As for the Joe Biden administration, Moon said that its values and policy stance are similar with South Korea's and that Seoul will ensure that the North Korea issue remains a priority for the new U.S. government.
If North Korea and the U.S. are able to swiftly and closely discuss ways to implement the Singapore Declaration, I think there could be a resolution. South Korea will also do its best to find the answer.
President Moon also expressed hope for another inter-Korean summit.
He said it doesn't necessarily need to be a visit by Kim Jong-un to Seoul and that he is willing to sit down with him anytime, anywhere.
As for upcoming military drills between Seoul and Washington in March which North Korea demanded should be suspended as a prerequisite for talks Moon said he could discuss the issue with Pyeongyang if necessary.
To deal with the issue of soaring housing prices which has reduced the government's approval rating to fresh lows Moon vowed to roll out new measures to stabilize the market by next month.
We will increase the number from public developers for redevelopment projects and the development of housing sites near train stations in the metropolitan area to increase the supply.
On COVID-19, Moon vowed thorough efforts to prepare for the vaccine rollout stressing that it could actually start earlier than February through the COVAX facility program.
He also brushed off views that South Korea was late in procuring vaccines. and addressed concerns of potential side effects.
People do not need to be concerned about not being protected against side effects by the government. If there are any concerns about vaccines and people refrain from inoculation, then I will not avoid setting an example.
Regarding the contentious issue of special pardons for two former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye Moon said that now is not the time to discuss the issue.
He said it needs public consensus and more thought, noting that court procedures have just finished and the corruption charges dealt huge damage to the nation and caused enormous pain for Korean people.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.