The leaders of North and South Korea have pledged to finally bring to an end the 60 years of hostility between their two nations after an historic meeting on 27 April 2018.
Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea, and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in have agreed to ‘the Panmunjom declaration’ – named after the village that hosted the meeting – that is, the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Their meeting was a momentous moment, not only in Korean history but also world history. Less than a month ago this seemed inconceivable, and it is easy to forget that only eight months ago US President Donald Trump was threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” following a series of ballistic missile tests by North Korea.
Standing outside the Peace House in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, Kim Jong-Un said “as I stand here today I can see that South and North Koreans are the same people, they cannot be separated. We are compatriots… We should not be confronting each other, we are the same people and should live in unity. I hope we will be able to live very peacefully in the future, as soon as possible.” President Moon said it was a “precious agreement and declared a “new era of peace”, vowing “there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula.”
As of Tuesday 1 May 2018 both countries have suspended their loudspeaker propaganda broadcast operations as well as their leaflet propaganda distribution. Remarkably, the two nations are technically still in a state of war as the peace treaty proposed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was never signed. However this seems to have been forgotten, as the two leaders seem true in their hope and desire for “a new era of peace” on the Korean peninsula. To symbolise their meeting and historic agreement, the two leaders re-planted a pine tree that had originally been planted in 1953 – the year the armistice between the two nations was signed. Moon used soil from Mount Paektu located in the North and Kim used soil from a mountain Jeju, South Korea. They then both proceeded to water the tree using water from each other’s country.
The leaders are expected to press for talks with the United States and most likely China to officially end the Korean War and implement a suitable peace treaty replacing the ad-hoc truce that currently functions.
This positive news feels like a breath of fresh air amongst the constant bad press we have become accustomed to. For the Koreans, an end to the 60 years of separation finally appears within sight.
Feature image credit: Korea Summit Press Pool