Inter-Korean summit: A big step forward on path to reconciliation

Friday, 2018-04-27 12:41:53
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People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit and ROK President Moon Jae-in shaking hands with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, at a railway station in Seoul, RoK, April 27, 2018. (Photo:Reuters)
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NDO – The inter-Korean summit, which is seen as a turning point in the process of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, officially takes place today (April 27) in the border village of Panmunjom inside the heavily fortified demilitarised zone. Over recent times, the soft moves of the parties towards the event show that the trend of reconciliation and dialogue is leading the Korean issue in the right direction and encouraging belief in an outcome of peace and stability for the whole region.

The torch of hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula, which has been sparked since the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, continues to burn, as the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) maintain their efforts to improve inter-Korean relations through dialogue. That the two sides have agreed to hold a high-level meeting has created a turning point in the quest for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. The event marks the first time that the top leaders of the ROK and the DPRK have met since 2007. As scheduled, during their historic meeting, ROK President Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un will focus on discussions of denuclearisation and the establishment of a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the promotion of the normalisation of the inter-Korean relations.

In the run up to the historic high-level meeting, the world constantly received good news from the Korean Peninsula. Both the ROK and the DPRK have ceased to operate a number of broadcasting loudspeakers in the border area, an important move that helps to create a favourable atmosphere for the peace dialogue. The two sides also set up a direct telephone line between their senior leaders, whilst actively organising meetings in order to make the best preparations for the historic high-level meeting. Especially, on April 21, DPRK leader Kim Jong-un announced the cessation of nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as the closure of a nuclear test site in the northern part of the country after this region had “completed its mission”. He asserted that Pyongyang would keep in close contact and active dialogue with its neighbouring countries and the international community, aiming to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula. Both the US and the ROK highly appreciated the DPRK leader’s goodwill move, hailing it as a “significant step” in the process of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, contributing to fostering peace and stability for the region.

The atmosphere of reconciliation between the two Korean regions has developed since early 2018, as the DPRK suddenly offered an olive branch of peace to the ROK, recommending a calming of the inter-Korean relationship after a year of tension. It seems that the olive branch has grown from the moderate and flexible policy of ROK President Moon Jae-in on the Korean issue. Today’s inter-Korean summit can be seen as a major diplomatic imprint of President Moon Jae-in, who has consistently pursued a policy of reconciliation and attempted to seize any opportunity to thaw the inter-Korean relationship, including the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games hosted by the ROK. The country has actively played a role of a reconciliation mediator between Pyongyang and Washington. The door to dialogue has been opened up by the ROK and the DPRK, from the resumption of the hotline that was suspended for the past two years, to meetings between President Moon Jae-in and the senior DPRK officials to ROK for the Olympic Games. With such positive signals on the Korean Peninsula, the UN and an array of other countries, such as the US, China, and Japan have welcomed and expressed their hopes of this being the light at the end of the tunnel for the DPRK’s nuclear issue. The inter-Korean high-level meeting today will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the US-DPRK summit scheduled for May. At present, despite showing precaution in the Korean issue, US President Donald Trump also emphasised that there has been significant progress in reestablishing some of the most frequent communication channels between the two countries in the past half a century.

There were moments when the Korean Peninsula had constantly been on the brink of war in 2017 with threats, warnings, and tough sanctions. Therefore, for Pyongyang and Seoul to now be proactively grasping the most fragile opportunities to resolve tensions through dialogue is a praiseworthy signal that is widely welcomed and appreciated by the public.

The path to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula remains delicately balanced, demanding the efforts, goodwill, and mutual trust of the parties involved. However, the joint efforts made by the parties in removing knots in the Korean issue through peaceful dialogue have brought fresh winds to the region, while affirming the victory of the reconciliation efforts instead of confrontation, and sparking hopes of a long-term peaceful and stable future for the Korean Peninsula.