After World War II, the once Japanese-occupied Korean peninsula was divided into two nations, the north falling in with the Soviet Union and the south with the US. The later outbreak of the Cold War between the two superpowers had a flashpoint in the Korean War, where North Korea invaded south, was driven back, and reinforced by Communist China. Hostilities ended with not a peace treaty but an armistice, leaving the two countries still at war but not fighting, a status that has remained for decades. This week however, sees what appears to be a massive status shift between them.
CNN is reporting and currently updating on a landmark event between North and South Korea this Friday, April 27. This is the Summit between Kim Jong-Un of the Democratic People’s Republic and the western-aligned Republic’s President Moon Jae-in, the first time since 2007 when the leaders of the divided Korean peninsula would meet face to face. Kim Jong-Un does one better by going all the way south, being the first leader of his hermit nation to visit South Korean territory since his grandfather Kim Il-Sung in 1953. The sight of Jung-Un crossing the North-South demarcation line was a momentous action.
The planned summit between Kim and Moon was held in the Inter-Korean Peace House, one of the longtime alternate-use venues for non-military discussions and negotiations between the two Koreas. After signing his name on the guestbook, with additional comments about “a new history”, Kim went in with President Moon to discuss the summit’s three major subjects: a final peace agreement between their nations, bettering bilateral relations, and the particulars regarding North Korea’s announcement of denuclearizing itself. Northern state media agency KCNA noted that Kim was to “open-heartedly” talk about these issues in hope of a future reunification of the peninsula.
Such an occasion, perhaps the closest to being amiable the North Korean leadership has been in a long time, was hard to imagine even the year before, when the hermit nation was stubbornly defying the rest of the world by pursuing its nuclear weapons program, with missile launches and bomb tests. But a few weeks back Kim Jong-Un has done a one eighty in his policy by discussing Northern denuclearization. This has paved the path for this summit with his Southern counterpart Moon Jae-in; though while their respective countrymen, especially the South, are hopeful, there is still some tension present.
Should the North-South Korean Summit have a positive turnout, it would also pave the way for another meeting with a world leader. Sometime in May or June, Kim hopes to meet with US President Donald Trump for the first time. The White House has expressed its hopes for glad tidings.
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