South Korea steps in for peace

South Korea steps in for peace
High ranking delegation from South Korea is currently in North Korea to hold historic talks in a bid to ease tensions in the Korean peninsula. The delegation hopes..

High ranking delegation from South Korea is currently in North Korea to hold historic talks in a bid to ease tensions in the Korean peninsula. The delegation hopes to broker discussions between North Korea and the USA to end the nuclear impasse in the region.

A report by CNN has stated that North Korean President Kim Jong Un will himself meet with the delegation.

Background

North Korea is one of the most secretive nations in the world. The United Peninsula was occupied by Japan between 1910 and 1945. Towards the end of the World War II, Soviet troops advanced towards Korea to take over from the vanquished Japanese forces. The United States, which by then had begun to distrust the Soviets, requested them to stop their offensive. By 1948, the country was partitioned into North and South Korea. In 1950, North Korea supported by Chinese and Russian forces invaded South Korea. US forces along with the United Nations intervened on behalf of South Korea and the invading army was driven out. US forces along with the United Nations intervened on behalf of South Korea and the invading army was driven out. Though an armistice was signed in 1953, there has been no peace treaty signed to this day. Currently 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines form part of United States Forces Korea (USFK) in South Korea.

Peace talks for normalization of North Korea

After North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, the six party talks were initiated. The main goal behind the talks is to ensure a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by North Korean nuclear weapons program. There has been a series of meetings with six participating states in Beijing. United States, China and Russia are among the six nations which are part of the discussions. South Korea and Japan are also part of the six party talks. However, these talks were largely unsuccessful and they were discontinued.

Analysis

In January 2018, North Korea signalled its intent in participating in the Winter Olympics held in Seoul in February 2018. Delegations from both countries met on January 9th to confirm on details and paving way for warmer ties. The Olympics that commenced on February 9th, 2018, displayed a rare show of unity between North and South Korea. Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un was present at the opening ceremony and shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae In. Later, South Korean President was formally requested to visit North Korea. This was the friendliest the two nations have acted towards one another in years.

Meanwhile, the US imposed the harshest sanctions yet on North Korea; an action condemned by the latter nation. South Korean leader has stated that both countries have to compromise in order to kickstart peace talks between the US and the North Korea.

In March 2018, South Korean delegation headed to North Korea to partake in historic talks to ease the tensions that have built up in the Korean peninsula. Experts believe that this will pave the way for US talks. Chung Eui-yong, the head of the presidential national security office is heading the South Korean delegation and the team has 10 members.

Before leaving for the visit he said, “Most of all, I will deliver President Moon Jae-in’s sincere and firm resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North, which were fostered on the occasion of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.” He will also be trying to broker talks between North Korea and the United States.

"There's a clear determination on Moon's (South Korean president) part not to lose momentum after the Olympics," said Euan Graham, the director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank. He added, “What Moon is trying to do is interpose himself between North Korea and the United States so that there is a kind of defusing role that the South Koreans play, naively or not, in trying to at least sort of forestall any ramping up of tensions.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that the South Korean president is trying to capitalize on the goodwill that arose during the Olympics. It has been clearly given 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. 

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