On Friday, April 27, the leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, agreed to the removal of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. By the end of 2018, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in stated they hope to have formally ended the Korean War. In separate speeches, both leaders spoke optimistically of the future. Kim declared that the Koreas “will be reunited as one country,” while Moon said, “There will not be any more war on the Korean peninsula” (Cnn.com).
The meeting between both leaders was heavy with symbolism; the two embraced and planted a tree together and signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification. Despite these interesting details, the meeting did not lead to any discussion of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities or what the nation would expect in return for getting rid of their nuclear weapons (Cnn.com).
On Sunday, April 29, the South Korean government released more details. Kim Jong Un had informed Moon Jae-in that he would get rid of his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to officially end the Korean War and to not invade North Korea. Additionally, the “suddenly loquacious and conciliatory” North Korean leader declared that he would invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea to witness next month’s shutdown of his only known underground nuclear test site (Nytimes.com).
Skeptics are warning that North Korea has promised to denuclearize in the past, and that Kim Jong Un’s apparently-friendly gestures might be empty promises made in the hopes of lifting sanctions on his country. At present, President Trump is optimistic; his administration is less so (Nytimes.com).
These peaceable actions carry a very different tone from last year’s many missile and nuclear tests, which nearly drove the Korean Peninsula to war. While the latest developments with North Korea sound encouraging, there are still many uncertainties. North Korea has yet to make actual plans for dismantling their nuclear program, or to clarify its vision for a peaceful Korean Peninsula. Considering similar occasions in the past, we should not be too surprised if this “good news” amounts to nothing.