Korean War To End After 65 Years
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in jointly issued a declaration of peace, moving towards the end of 65 years of war on the Korean peninsula.
The Panmunjom Declaration read, “the two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun.” The declaration also promised a move towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
On Friday, Kim Jong-Un arrived at the Peace House in the truce village of Panmunjom, becoming the first North Korean leader to cross the border between North Korea and South Korea. After crossing the border, Kim Jong-Un shook hands with Moon Jae-in. While it was the first time that two leaders met, the procedure was rehearsed many times prior. In an unscripted moment, Kim invited Moon to the North’s side of the border, and the two leaders again shook hands on the other side of the border.
Experts on North Korea and South Korea commented that the summit was full of symbols. South Korean government stated that during the talks, Kim apologized to Moon for interrupting his sleep during North Korea’s nuclear test last year. According to the statement, Kim stated, “we won’t interrupt your early morning sleep anymore.” The two leaders planted a tree in the demarcation line. The tree was 65 years old — the length of the Korean War — and the two leaders signed a placard to be put on the tree: “we plant peace and prosperity.”
Experts also commented on the symbolism of the food that was served during the summit. For instance, Kim brought cold noodles for Moon as a souvenir, which was welcomed by a storm of tweets.
It was reported that Kim told Moon, “I saw earlier that the dinner menu here is a very hot topic,” and “I also brought with me cold noodles from Pyongyang so President I hope you can enjoy the Pyongyang noodles.”
The dinner menu was carefully thought out prior to the summit. For instance, one menu on the dinner course included “Korean reinterpretation of the Swiss rosti.” While the “Swiss” component of the dish acknowledges Kim’s history of studying away in Switzerland, it is thought as a reminder of an unusual helping hand extended from South Korea to North Korea in 1998. During the famine in North Korea that occurred in the 1990s, Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung sent 1,001 cattle to North Korea.
The beef was supplied from the same ranch. However, the two leaders had separate lunch after the morning talks and before signing the peace declaration in the afternoon. Kim crossed back to the North to have a lunch break.
In addition to committing to an end to the war, the Panmunjom Declaration promises that two sides will work together to “ease the sharp military tension on the Korean peninsula.” Furthermore, the declaration touched on the internal affairs of both countries. Following the declaration, all propaganda activities, such as loudspeakers and leaflets will be halted. The declaration also touched on unifying divided families. Kim stated, “I hope this will be an opportunity for the two Korean peoples to move freely from North to South. We need to take responsibility for our own history.”
The reaction of Heads of states on the summit between North Korea and South Korea were mixed. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated he welcomes the summit but urged North Korea for “concrete action” in the denuclearization of the peninsula. President Xi Jinping of China also expressed enthusiasm in the declaration. On Friday, Xi was in the midst of talks with Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Yet, according to Guardian, the Chinese media were restricted to report this meeting, not to distract the covering of the summit in Korea.
Surprisingly, many scholars were careful to congratulate the Panmunjom Declaration, without any clearly stated timeline. Indeed, Chad O’Carroll, Executive Officer for Korea Risk Group emphasized the wording to “fully [implement] all existing agreements and declarations” in the declaration, which, according to t O’Carroll will include, North Korea allowing inspection of nuclear experiment sites, the two engaging in economic cooperation, and promoting of tourism in North Korea.
In addition, many experts emphasized the necessity for a peace treaty to be signed by the US and China. Abraham Denmark, Director for Asia Program at Wilson Center tweeted, “a peace treaty will likely need to be signed by China and the US as well as South and Korea,” and recommended a “four-party mechanism to be established” including US, China, North Korea, and South Korea. Such notion indicates the extent of complexity of Korean War, and the interdependence between the Korean peninsula and others. In an interview with CNN, South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha stated, “clearly credit goes to President Trump” for bringing Kim to the negotiation table.
Furthermore, many see this summit as a prelude to the promised talks between Kim and US President Trump. Trump credited his involvement in the improving relations between North Korea and South Korea: “The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” Republican Senator Luke Messer announced launching a campaign to nominate Trump for Nobel Peace Prize. Trump has yet to meet Kim, and exact date is not yet set.