By Theodore Mattheiss
After 68 years, we may finally see peace between North and South Korea.
On April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met Moon Jae-In, the South Korean president, along the demilitarized zone that has separated the two nations and their leaders for decades. With handshakes and smiles, they made history as Kim Jong-Un stepped over the border onto South Korean land. He is the first leader of the North to ever do such a thing.
It was a monumental occasion, one of those where we, as a global community, decide to see how far we can go when we work together instead of breaking each other down. If you have grandchildren, they may very well ask you about this event. It’s akin to the fall of the Berlin wall, or the reunification of the United States after the Civil War.
But will it last?
That remains to be seen. For now, at least, things seem promising. Kim has suspended all of his country’s nuclear tests, and has promised to close down the testing facilities this May. North Korea has announced that it is even prepared to relinquish its nuclear weapons if the U.S. pledges not to invade the region.
This is huge. Kim Jong-Un’s ambitious nuclear program has kept him insulated from the nations of the world, mainly the U.S., that would like to see his dictatorship toppled. To actually give up these weapons would be the ultimate sign of trust between North Korea and the West.
I have my doubts about whether or not Kim is actually going to go through with this promise. Trusting the West to that degree would be a huge risk that could end in him being ousted from power and even executed. But in any case, nuclear disarmament is sure to be one of the most important discussion topics in the peace talks that are to come.
Some have taken a cynical outlook on these recent developments between North and South Korea, interpreting it as Kim finally being forced to the negotiating table by the extensive sanctions that have been crippling his country. There’s a good chance that the geopolitical choke hold on North Korea has encouraged their leader to engage in diplomacy as a means of easing the pressure while saving face on the world stage.
Regardless of what may have caused this event, however, peace talks are happening on the Korean peninsula. It’s a remarkable change compared to the Korea we have seen these past few years, as well as the past decades. In the words of Kim, “a new history begins now.”