History was made on Friday when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crossed the Korean demilitarised zone to meet and talk peace with the President of South Korea – Moon Jae-in.
At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula. The two leaders met at the bloodstained border that divides the Korean Peninsula to end 70 years of conflict since the Korean War.
The Koreas went to war in 1950 when soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army invaded the South. The armed conflict ended three years later in 1953 when an armistice agreement was signed, however no formal peace treaty was ever signed as the Peninsula remained at war.
“There will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and we will be proclaiming the new era of peace is open,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.
Kim Jong-un hailed the meeting as an “age of peace”, insisting Korea should be separated no more because “we share the same blood.”
The meeting of the two leaders comes just weeks before a scheduled meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un that is set to take place in June. This will mark the first time leaders of their respective nations have met face-to-face.
Just had a long and very good talk with President Moon of South Korea. Things are going very well, time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set. Also spoke to Prime Minister Abe of Japan to inform him of the ongoing negotiations.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2018
Mr Trump also tweeted, “good things are happening, but only time will tell.”
Kim Jong-un reportedly told President Moon that, ‘he hoped trust could be built with the US’ and reiterated that, ‘there would be no need for him to have nuclear weapons if they formally ended the war on the Korean peninsula.’
Many political leaders believe Trump deserves credit for the historic peace meeting of North and South Korea, including Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who stated that “however unpredictable the [Trump] administration’s stance may have seemed”, the US President’s strategy had “changed the narrative and changed the status quo”.
Bishop did raise concerns however, warning that North Korea would not “give up its weapons program lightly” and has a “poor record of honouring agreements”.
Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea. Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2018
It is widely believed that China has played a major role in the coming together of the Korea’s. China is North Korea’s most important trading partner and main source of food and energy.
In late March, an armored train travelled from North Korea to China. State media in China confirmed Kim Jong-un was onboard the mystery train to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is unknown what the two leaders discussed, however it is believed that the Peace Treaty would have been a topic of discussion.
The exact reasons for the sudden change in Kim Jong-un’s attitude remain unclear, however Chinese geologists recently reported that North Korea’s main nuclear test site partially collapsed under the stress of multiple explosions, rendering it unsafe for further testing and leaving it vulnerable to radiation leaks.
Despite rumours surrounding the potential collapse of the site, Kim Jong-un was reported saying, “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that they are in good condition.”
Yoon Young-chan – a spokesman from the South Korean president’s office said, “The closure of the North Korea’s main test site – Punggye-ri, would be done in public and foreign experts from South Korea and the US would be invited to watch.”
Young-chan also stated that North Korea, “would carry out the closing of the nuclear test site in May”.
Reports from the South Korean President’s office also stated that, ‘Kim Jong-un’s heart was broken when he saw two clocks with different Korean time zones hanging on the wall of the peace house at the border between the two countries.’
The Korean timezone was changed to GMT+9 (Tokyo Time) when Japan conquered Korea in 1598. In 2015, Kim Jong-un changed the time of North Korea to GMT+8.30 (30 minutes behind the original timezone) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from the Japanese.
Kim Jong-un has stated he will now match the time zone in the North with that of the South.
Although many are still skeptical about the sudden cooperation of North Korea, the meeting of the two Korean leaders will remain a historic event and step forward for worldwide peace.