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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 15 - 21  > Current status of process for peaceful Korean Peninsula
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2018 August 15 - 21 [PEACE]

Current status of process for peaceful Korean Peninsula

August 15&16, 2018

One month after the historic Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on July 13 said, “The leaders of the United States and North Korea and I have changed the course of history through the Panmunjom Declaration between the two Koreas and the Joint Statement from the North Korea-U.S. summit.”

The South Korean president made this remark in a lecture during his visit to Singapore. In his lecture, Moon also said, “The normalization of inter-Korean relations will eventually normalize North Korea-U.S. relations and, then North Korea-Japan relations. The normalization of North Korea-Japan relations will greatly contribute to establishing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.”

The peace process has just begun and may encounter various obstacles and even setbacks.

In early July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea and held a ministerial-level meeting. The details of the meeting were not made public, but the talks were believed to have reached an impasse because while the U.S. side demanded a clear commitment to denuclearization, the North Korean side insisted on a relaxation of economic sanctions in addition to an early announcement of the end of the Korean War. The issuing of a formal declaration ending the war within a year was confirmed in the Panmunjom Declaration.

Amid the impasse, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held its Foreign Ministers’ meeting on August 4 in Singapore. The ARF is the only framework in which North Korea participates, providing a channel for regional dialogue. On the list of attendees, there were the names of the Foreign Ministers of South Korea, North Korea, and the United States, which raised international expectations for a trilateral meeting. Unfortunately, the three ministers did not sit down at the negotiating table.

International attention

A former bureaucrat of the Japanese Foreign Ministry expressed cynicism regarding the peace process by saying, “As far as I know, unless North Korea completes denuclearization, a peace treaty between North and South Korea will not be concluded. So, if an official end to the war is announced, it will not contribute to the conclusion of a peace treaty. Furthermore, the U.S. government shows unwillingness to make an announcement based on its concern that North Korea may use the announcement as a tool to ease sanctions.”

On the other hand, in the ARF ministerial meeting, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said that North Korea will maintain its determination to implement the North Korea-U.S. joint statement in a sincere and responsible manner. He met separately with government representatives of other participating countries at their request. This fact indicates that the international community is directing strong attention to the launch of the process for peace.

At an emergency high-level meeting between South and North Korea on August 13, it was decided that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit North Korea in September to hold a third inter-Korea summit meeting this year. Moon on August 15 in his speech on the 73rd anniversary of Korea’s liberation encouraged Washington and Pyongyang to compromise with each other, and said, “I hope that the implementation of the complete denuclearization of North Korea and corresponding comprehensive measures by the United States will be pursued quickly.” The two Koreas are working actively to break through the stalemate between North Korea and the U.S. Reportedly, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo is preparing to visit North Korea again.

Road to denuclearization

Lee Jun Kyu, a researcher at the Center for Peace Research of KYOREH HANA in South Korea, stressed that in order to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, the U.S. should work to convince Pyongyang that its regime will not be threatened. Lee made this remark in the scientists’ meeting held on July 29 as part of the 2018 World Conference against A and H Bombs. He said that the South Korean government is reportedly seeking to declare an end to the Korean War in the General Assembly of the United Nations in September. Lee went on to say that it is necessary to urge Pyongyang to map out a schedule for denuclearization. He added that at the same time it is also important to present to North Korea a road map for a change in the South Korea-Japan-U.S. nuclear alliance targeting North Korea. This should be a fundamental first step, Lee said.

Past related articles:
> Scientists call for denuclearization and peacebuilding in East Asia [July 30, 2018]
> Nihon Hidankyo expresses hope for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula [June 13&14, 2018]
> JCP welcomes historic US-North Korea summit [June 13, 2018]
> Japan should contribute to Panmunjom Declaration’s goal of building peace on Korean Peninsula [ April 29, 2018]
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