North Korea, South Korea Agree To End War, Denuclearize Peninsula

On April 27, North Korea's Kim Jong Un crossed the border from North Korea to South Korea to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and shake his hand. When Moon told Kim he wanted to visit North Korea someday, Kim invited him to cross the border and enter North Korea, which Moon did. This small gesture was the beginning of a meeting in which both leaders would analyze two potentially historic events: a formal peace treaty between both countries (which ends the state of war that has existed between them for more than 60 years) and denuclearization total of the Koreana Peninsula.

Both leaders smiled through the cameras, participated in a tree planting ceremony, and even sat and talked at a picnic table near a bridge, recently painted with a vibrant blue hue, in the demilitarized zone. Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in had space to talk to each other about an agreement on denuclearization. "They drink tea and chased away the cameramen and it's just the two of them, and it struck me that they speak the same language," said Yonsei University historian John Delury at NPR : "They do not need interpreters. "The day was full of images of two powerful men who came to an agreement. Even President Trump had to take a moment and tweet about the momentous occasion, saying "KOREAN WAR TO FINISH! The United States and all its GREAT people should be very proud of what is now happening in Korea!"

When the two leaders entered the House of Peace to begin their summit meeting, they stopped to shake hands. The moment provoked applause, prompting Kim to comment: "It is embarrassing to be applauded just for shaking hands," according to Anthony Kuhn, International Correspondent, Beijing, China by NPR . Kim quickly asked: "Did that make a good picture?", Provoking the laughter of the audience of journalists and others. "I am very proud to say that I pay tribute to the brave and courageous decision made by President Kim," said Moon at the Summit, which took place in the border village of Panmunjom. Kim added to this statement, saying: "We've been waiting for this moment for a long time." The leader of North Korea continued to express his optimism about the meeting and said: "We are not people that we should confront each other, we should live in unity." Kim signed the official visiting book of the House of Peace, writing "The new story begins from now on, at the historical starting point of an era of peace." The event seemed to permeate an air of optimism at the idea of ​​unity and peace between North Korea and South Korea.

After Kim signed the guestbook, however, a scene developed that seemed to portray a sense of paranoia and distrust. When the leaders left the House of Peace, the security of North Korea began to clean the desk, chair, book and pen with disinfectant and scanning the area with electronic devices. A South Korean security guard told reporters that the North Korean team was looking for recording devices or explosives, according to Kuhn. Was it just a routine security check, carried out when the two leaders went out to lunch and planted a tree together? Maybe, but it seemed to be a reminder that peace talks between the two countries have taken place in the past, but a solid agreement never materialized.

The first such agreement occurred on July 4, 1972, when South Korean officials met with Kim Il-Sung to discuss the unification. While both countries seemed to agree with the terms, they could not move forward due to political instability on both sides of the border. Similar agreements were also addressed in 1992, with the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Similar to 2018, both countries tried to advance in total denuclearization. However, as the terms were never met on either side, the agreement never entered into force. In 2000, the North-South Joint Declaration was drafted and signed by Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-Jung. The text of the declaration called for reunification, but it was later discovered that North Korean officials were being paid to attend this summit. A similar meeting was held in 2007 that confirmed the 2000 declaration, however, relations between the two countries were never fully repaired. Aggression and hostility continued to grow between North Korea and South Korea. The summit of 2018 has already received its share of criticism, mainly directed at the idea of ​​denuclearization.

While the Declaration of Panmunjom mentions denuclearization, it does not do so until near the end of the document. In addition, it does not offer any specific steps to achieve that goal, according to CBS News . The dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program was the subject of discussion, while Moon and Kim sat next to the bright blue bridge in the demilitarized zone. They stated that it was there that they reached an agreement on how denuclearization would be possible, however, the language in the declaration was not specific. He did not mention the time frames or the actual stages of denuclearization. As such, North Korea could potentially maintain its existing nuclear arsenal while suspending additional production. Kim also did not say specifically what he and Moon had agreed with regard to denuclearization. Jenny Town, editor-in-chief of 38 North (an online magazine focused on North Korea), said NPR "I think the South Koreans did what they had to do to make this meaningful, but not exaggerated." Kang Cheol Hwan, the executive director of the North Korea Strategy Center, has also expressed a more pessimistic view. He told NPR: "So far, North Korea has lied, and the lies have worked for people who want to believe that North Korea intends to abandon its nuclear weapons, but I do not think that is the truth."

It remains to be seen what will come of the last summit between North Korea and South Korea, but history will decide whether this latest declaration of peace, unity and denuclearization will prevail. Test of time. South Korea has already taken steps to fulfill its end of the agreement. They dismantled speakers that had been installed along the border to send propaganda and music (mainly K-pop) to North Korea. Similarly, North Korea has also dismantled its own loudspeakers that were used to send their own propaganda messages to the south. While this demonstration of diplomacy illustrates a step in the right direction, it is a far cry from total denuclearization, which may need to be further discussed if President Trump can meet personally with Kim Jong-Un. Similarly, South Korea will maintain approximately 29,000 US troops stationed along the border, although its withdrawal is a condition of the denuclearization of North Korea, according to a CNN report.

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