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Korea After the Handshake

The recent easing of tensions between North and South Korea, two countries that are still technically at war, has given new life to the debate on the unification of the two countries, which have been divided and confronted since the 1950s.

In my opinion, the most favored part of the development of the events that led to the meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas was South Korea!

The extensive and intense military presence of the United States in the south of the Korean peninsula has always been the main obstacle to the reunification efforts of the Korean nation.

Thus, the only net loser at the end of these events has been Washington, which has seen its absolute empire on the southern part of the Korean peninsula threatened.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has never given in to Washington’s demands. The South has always lacked sufficient autonomy to assert its interests and rights as a formally independent nation, due to the control exercised by the United States over its defenses and war resources.

This is understood by many observers who believe that Seoul derives the greatest benefits from the events that are taking place because they contribute to the collapse of the pretexts for maintaining the semi-colonial status of South Korea. These are invariably based on the supposed danger that North Korea, a socialist country, will absorb the entire peninsula and, with its independence, benefit the left in the world balance of power.

The North Korean authorities’ demonstration of absolute autonomy and total dominance of sovereignty over their territory, before and during the negotiations with Seoul and the United States, refutes the repeated and absurd accusations by the United States in the Western media that the Pyongyang government is a puppet of Moscow or Beijing.

On the other hand, what the most objective observers wondered was the extent to which the Seoul government could act with the minimum degree of autonomy necessary to take decisions that would make viable, or at least accompany, the profound changes that would result from the rapprochement with Pyongyang in its external relations, which had been so subordinate to those of the United States.

Although the hope of lasting peace is a win-win situation for all parties involved, the most significant change in regional policy so far seems to be the one that affects the characteristics of South Korea’s submission to the US strategy of maintaining the status of two countries at war, betting on an eventual reunification forced by the weapons it leaves to the united Korea, but within Washington’s sphere of control.

When the North Korean Communist leader, Kim Jong Un, and the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, made a commitment to work for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula on April 27 at the House of Peace in Panmunjom, inside the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries, they were smiling and shaking hands. At that moment, the brains of the State Department and the Pentagon were plotting how to restructure the imperialist strategy for the region, to make it compatible with the style of its unpredictable President Trump and his team of hawks, almost all as ignorant as its chief in international politics and diplomacy.

Both Koreas announced that they will work with the US and China to reach an agreement soon for a “permanent” and “strong” peace that will officially end the Korean War, which has lasted from the 1950s to the present with only a single ceasefire in 1953.

They promised to work for an agreement for the progressive reduction of military weapons, to cease hostile acts, to transform their fortified border into a zone of peace and to seek multilateral talks with other countries, in an obvious but omitted reference to the United States, whose military forces are still widely deployed in South Korea.

Kim was the first North Korean leader since the 1950-1953 war to visit South Korea. The scenes of Moon and Kim walking together smilingly contrasted sharply with the tensions generated the previous year by the joint South Korean-U.S. military games and, in response, North Korea’s missile tests and its largest nuclear test, which led to the usual U.S. sanctions and increased fears of a new war on the Peninsula.

Humanity expected a lot from the handshake between the two Korean leaders on the concrete strip that marks the border between the two countries in the demilitarized zone. Unfortunately, the most recent visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang indicates that Washington plans to kick the ball.

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Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

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