FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires

Photo by Giuseppe Milo | CC BY 2.0

History will be made this week with the summit meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. With a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump looming in four to six weeks or so, it’s tempting to look past this first summit, but that would be a mistake. This inter-Korean summit could well be the more important of the two. Should North and South Korea continue to make solid progress toward peace and reconciliation, and there is every reason to think they will, agreements made at this first summit will set the stage for subsequent negotiations, including the Trump-Kim summit.

Recent media reports are full of speculation about U.S., Chinese and Japanese interests and influences over the North-South Korea talks. This is understandable, but the real story here is about Koreans making peace.

It’s remarkable how far we’ve come since just the beginning of the year, when the opening created by the Olympic Truce greased the wheels for smart diplomacy by the governments of both South and North Korea, leading to an astonishing thaw in relations.

Even before the two summits begin, North Korea has agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons and missile tests, agreed to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and voiced openness to the continued presence of 28,000 American troops in South Korea. Just last week, North and South Korea discussed signing a peace treaty to replace the supposedly temporary armistice in place since 1953 (meaning a state of war still technically exists between the North and the South and the U.S.). Also, remarkable in terms of symbolic and practical meaning, they discussed  returning the border to a more normal state. The “Demilitarized Zone” is of course a misnomer, perhaps even ironic at this point, as it is the most heavily militarized patch of land on Earth.

All of this incredible progress has occurred despite the North’s understandable loathing of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, the largest in the world, which are currently in progress. Beyond that, no sanctions on North Korea have yet been lifted, and neither the inter-Korean summit nor the U.S.-North Korean summit meetings have happened yet.

North Korea has pivoted to an emphasis on economic development over further military investment, as announced by Kim on New Year’s Day and in more recent statements. The United States should honor the remarkable steps North Korea has taken to demonstrate it is operating in good faith with a reciprocal commitment for peace. Ultimately, U.S. goals should include the signing of a peace treaty, the lifting of economic sanctions against North Korea, and the integration of North Korea into a regional and world economy, which is key to long-term peace and stability on the Peninsula.

While recent diplomatic progress has inspired hope for peace around the world, few feel the full weight of that hope more than Koreans. South Koreans overwhelmingly support a peace agreement to end Korean War, 79% according to the latest poll.

For many Korean and Korean-American family members divided by Korean War, these summits offer the hope of being reunited with their families—the last hope for some. According to the latest government report, 131,447 South Koreans are registered as separated families since 1988. Over 73,611 have passed away since 1988 when the registration opened, and a quarter of those alive are over 90 years old.

In the U.S., Members of Congress to show their support for diplomacy and a successful summit with public statements, and by co-sponsoring the “No Unconstitutional First Strike on Korea Act,” S. 2016 sponsored by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and H.R. 4837  sponsored by Representative Ro Khanna. It’s time we all gave peace on the Korean Peninsula a real chance.

Dr. Simone Chun serves on the Steering Committee of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea. Kevin Martin is President of Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund, and also convenes the Korea Peace Network. www.peaceaction.org

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail