FRIDAY, 27th April 2018 went down as a historic day in the Korean peninsula when the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in and the Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, for the first time since the end of the Korea war in 1953, met at the Demilitarised Zone, shook hands on both sides of the border and held talks towards promoting lasting peace in the peninsula and the world at large.
This heartwarming development was presaged in February this year during the Winter Olympic in which the two nations competed under a unified Korean flag in Pyeongchang, South Korea. There was also a symbolic handshake between President Jae-in and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korea Leader who is also his confidante. These handshakes are seen as signs that the “state of war” between the two sides for over half a century may be over.
The talks between the Korean leaders were upbeat and hope-inspiring, with phrases like “write a new chapter in the peninsula’s history” and “new beginnings” being rhapsodically bandied between the two sides. Kim Jong-un promised to stop his nuclear tests which he so frequently staged last year that US President, Donald Trump, referred to him as “the little rocket man”.
After those dangerous exchanges, further covert diplomatic pussyfooting forcefully pushed by the South Korean president between Pyongyang and Washington DC resulted in an unbelievable breakthrough. President Trump and the North Korean leader will meet in May this year, probably at the Demilitarised Zone, and hopefully break new grounds in ending the nuclear arms race and foster lasting peace.
The entire world is heavily relieved at these unfolding events. Only last year, the truculent verbal exchanges backed with military exercises and nuclear tests brought the world on knife-edge and painted a picture of the imminence of an apocalypse.
As the US, North Korea and South Korea and perhaps other key allies sit down to discuss the terms of lasting peace, it is important to bear in mind that North Korea and South Korea need cast-iron guarantees for the security of their countries, their respective leadership and political systems. Without these guarantees the situation is likely to return to square one as we saw in previous attempts.
We call on the superpowers, especially the United States, to tone down the quest for regime changes around the world since many such occurrences made the world less secure and multiplied human suffering. The world is big enough to accommodate political and ideological diversity.
North Korea should also work hard to mainstream itself within the comity of nations, divert resources from single-minded nuclear pursuits to other areas of economic upgrades to make life better for its people.
Let there be lasting peace on the Korea peninsula.