Friday’s summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in looks to have been a dramatic success. The talks culminated in agreements to work together toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and to pursue a deal with the United States formally ending the Korean War.
The Korean War began in 1950, and an armistice was signed in 1953. No peace deal to end the war ever happened, however. The two nations agreed in their joint goals to try to finalize an ending to the war within the next year. This would end generations of war, and greatly calm tensions in the region.
An upcoming Kim-Trump summit,planned for either late May or early June, is expected to focus heavily on eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has a small nuclear arsenal, and while South Korea does not, they have at times hosted US nuclear arms.
These were the goals always expected to be discussed at Friday’s historic summit. Ending the Korean War was always seen as a complicated matter that’s going to take a lot of extra discussions to work out. Today’s announcement, however, shows both sides are committed to it. Kim confirmed at the end of the summit that the war is “over”and that a new era of peace has begun.
Specifics still need to be worked out, including the presumptive dismantling of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and normalization of relations. This includes the possibility of having actual borders and the ability of Koreans to visit relatives on either side of the border. All this will be sorted out in additional talks over the next year.
Compared to this, denuclearization may be a lot more straightforward. The big issue to be sorted out there is for North Korea to be assured they won’t be attacked by the US once they give up their nuclear deterrent. With South Korea on board for the pact, this seems readily achievable, to the point that North Korea is no longer even seeking a US withdrawal of troops from South Korea.