South Korea plans to push this new year to advance a long delayed inter-Korean railway project, for a breakthrough in deadlocked talks with the North.
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the two Koreas' agreement to reconnect railway and roads. We must fulfill that goal now."
A seminar organized by Railhope was held in Seoul on Wednesday, centering on the role the inter-Korean railway project has in regards to peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.
The Unification Minister pointed to the project as the best way to establish a "peace economy" based on inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Seoul and Pyeongyang completed the Gyeongui line in 2006.
But the Donghae Line that runs along the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, is yet to be finished.
Once complete, trains departing from the South will be able to pass through North Korea to reach destinations like Russia, China and even Europe.
The deadlock in inter-Korean dialogue and stalled nuclear talks between Pyeongyang and Washington, have prevented further discussions in advancing the project.
But it appears that all that is required is a little more patience, because North Korea is seemingly very much interested.
"It may seem as though there is only bad news, but based on the great amount of information I've accessed through China, North Korea is very much interested in the inter-Korean railway and road projects and is willing to participate when the conditions are right."
Why the North is so interested in the railway project?
The immense economic benefits it can bring.
"The railway connection project has enormous economic effects. Analysis show that it can bring South Korea benefits worth 1.4 billion U.S. dollars, whereas North Korea would see benefits worth 14 billion dollars."
The groundwork is slowly being laid to realize the vision.
China and Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council that includes freeing the project from restrictions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also expressed strong support for the railway project during his summit with President Moon Jae-in in Beijing last month.
The South Korean government also plans to do what it can under the current status quo and continue reaching out to the North, so that this year can be different for inter-Korean ties.
"The completion of the line would also have great benefits to the domestic economy. It's expected to energize the petrochemical, steelmaking and tourism industries all the more reason to find the momentum to advance the project. Park Hee-jun, Arirang News."