Shining Moon

Shining Moon
South Korean President will discuss North Korea during his visit to the US this week. Amidst stalling denuclearisation talks, President Moon will look to restart the negotiations based off his rapport with Kim Jong Un. The Korean peninsula was divided post World War II in 1945. In 1950, North Korea, supported..

South Korean President will discuss North Korea during his visit to the US this week. 

Amidst stalling denuclearisation talks, President Moon will look to restart the negotiations based off his rapport with Kim Jong Un.

Background

The Korean peninsula was divided post World War II in 1945. In 1950, North Korea, supported by China and Russia, invaded South Korea. The United Nations and US forces intervened on behalf of the South and the invading army was driven out during the Korean War. The two nations signed an armistice in 1953, however, there has been no peace treaty and they are technically still at war.

While South Korea opened up its market and instituted a system of democracy to become one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, the modern nation of North Korea exists in self-imposed isolation. It runs on a totalitarian system under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un.  In recent years, the North Korean nuclear programme has become a source of concern for the US and the international community, resulting in UN-imposed sanctions.

However, since the beginning of 2018, global tensions with the isolated state began to ease. Pyongyang has indicated that it is willing to re-establish diplomatic ties with the outside world, beginning with the PyeongChang Olympics, which were hailed as the “Peace Olympics”. The two nations announced that they have agreed to end the 60-year Korean War, and signed the Panmunjom Declaration which agreed to denuclearise North Korea.

Analysis

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump hope to discuss North Korea on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in New York this month, Moon's office said on Tuesday (Sept 4), amid lacklustre progress on the North's nuclear issues.

Moon and Trump spoke for 50 minutes by telephone on Tuesday, a day before Moon's special envoys were due to visit Pyongyang to discuss a third summit later this month between Moon and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un. The planned inter-Korean summit follows Trump's cancellation of a visit to Pyongyang by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, after Pompeo received a belligerent letter from a senior North Korean official.

Moon and Trump agreed in their call "to explore the idea of meeting in person on the margins of the UN General Assembly and having in-depth consultations on strategies and how to cooperate on the peninsula issues", Moon's office said in a statement.

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Moon briefed Trump on his plan to send a special envoy to Pyongyang on Wednesday to meet Kim. Kim vowed during his unprecedented summit with Trump in June in Singapore, to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but the two sides have since made little headway towards that goal. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Chung Eui-yong, chief of the national security office at Seoul's presidential Blue House, said he would deliver a letter from Moon to Kim when he visits the North, without elaborating on its contents. Chung said he wanted to discuss with Pyongyang officials, ways to achieve the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul will continue to push for a joint declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War within this year with the United States.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the South Korean president is trying to capitalize on the goodwill that arose during the Olympics. It has been clear that due to the increased camaraderie displayed by the North Koreans, Kim Jong Un is hoping to end the sanctions imposed on the region through a diplomatic solution. South Korea and North Korea have shared history and culture and two regions can begin the first step in the normalization process. As stated earlier, we believe that North Korea would feel more respected negotiating with its Southern neighbour than with the US.

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