“A new history begins now. The age of peace, at the starting point of history.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inscribed these words in the guest book at Peace House during his historic visit to South Korea. The world stood still for a while as Kim Jong Un crossed the 38th parallel dividing the Korean peninsula to become the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the end of Korean War in 1953.
The summit between South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Mr Kim is historic in many ways as the leaders are meeting for the first time in a decade. The two countries have been at the loggerheads since the end of World War II when the Korean peninsula fell to the Americans and the Soviets, who divided it along the 38th parallel. The north of line came under communist Kim Il Sung with support from Russia while the United States supported anti-communist Syngman Rhee in the area to the South.
With both leaders keen to occupy the area on the other side of the 38th parallel, war broke out in 1950 that continued for 3 years until an armistice was signed in the Demilitarized zone where the present summit is taking place.
The armistice was a ceasefire agreement and with the two countries failing to sign a peace treaty since 1950s, they remained technically at war. Though the ceasefire was held mostly, but incidents of crossfire, conflict and tensions erupted between the two countries on a regular basis.
North Korea under the leadership of Kim dynasty developed into an authoritarian system, isolated on the global stage armed with nuclear weapons. It has carried out six nuclear tests, one alleged hydrogen bomb and boasted of having ballistic missile capable of reaching as far as the United States. Though the claims were never confirmed but the threats to attack US and South Korea were enough to alarm the international community. And, with the counter threats coming from US President Donald Trump, the world seemed to be at the brink of a nuclear war.
But in a rather bizarre and surprising turn of events, the world on April 27th, 2018 witnessed what had seemed almost unthinkable just a few months back. The two Korean leaders holding a historic summit aimed at fostering co-operations between the two states. However, efforts had begun in January, 2018 with Kim opening up to dialogue with the South Korea and the two countries marching under one flag at Winter Olympics held in South Korea.
Looking forward to the summit, Mr Kim announced suspending nuclear tests – a step welcomed by US and South Korea.
The world woke up on April 27 to rather dramatic scenes of Moon and Kim joking, walking and posing for the cameras. The leaders discussed denuclearization, planted a tree and unveiled a monument engraved with “planting peace and prosperity”. The two countries also announced in a joint declaration that they will sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War later this year, 65 years after hostilities ceased. The document called the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula,” was revealed after a full day of meetings.
Their historic meeting comes weeks before Kim is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. With the top leaders coming forward for a dialogue putting their differences aside, any apprehensions of nuclear war in the peninsula are put to rest for the time being as the summit ended with promise of complete denuclearization and joint declaration that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and a new era of peace has begun……….