Dream of peace on Korean Peninsula

Monday, 2019-04-29 18:10:18
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DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un (left) and RoK President Moon Jae-in shake hands during their meeting on April 27, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – On April 27, the two Koreas celebrated the first anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit with a meeting and a highly symbolic handshake between President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in and Chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un. The different messages delivered by both sides on the occasion show that greater efforts are needed in order to fulfil the goal of opening a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Celebrations in the RoK were held with excitement, featuring art performances by artists from the RoK, China, Japan and the United States, and gathering the attendance of around 500 officials and citizens. In his video message, RoK President Moon Jae-in emphasised that a year ago the inter-Korean summit took place and the Panmunjom Declaration was announced on a day of “overwhelming emotions”. The RoK leader expressed optimism that the two Koreas would attain an “irreversible peace” in which everyone “prospers together”. According to President Moon Jae-in, there still remain obstacles, but on a path towards peace, all must set off together and always find ways to keep going together.

In the DPRK, there were no animated activities or optimistic statements as in the RoK, but instead warnings on the risk of resumed tensions hindering the path towards sustainable peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cited the message from the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland as emphasising that, one year ago, the inter-Korean summit restarted the process of reunification of the two Koreas, but the US’s moves have been hindering the steps towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The specialised agency for inter-Korean relations has called on the RoK to implement “more active measures” aiming to improve the bilateral ties. The DPRK also condemned the joint exercises between the RoK and the US, and warned that the “reckless” joint military activities of the two allies would only bring “regret” and unpredictable consequences.

On this occasion last year, the Truce Village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border took centre stage in the world as a senior leader of the DPRK crossed into the RoK territory for the first time since the Korean War nearly 70 years ago. During that summit, RoK President Moon Jae-in and DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un signed the Panmunjom Declaration, agreeing to jointly work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, improving relations between the two Koreas, easing military tensions and expanding cross-border exchanges and cooperation.

The 2018 inter-Korean summit not only brought a “new breeze” but also helped to ease the tensions shadowing the bilateral relations for many years and restart the inter-Korean relationships and partnerships that have long been delayed. A series of positive progresses followed afterwards, especially including the organisation of two inter-Korean summits and the launch of a number of cooperation projects. Strong improvements in the inter-Korean relations have facilitated negotiations on the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, particularly leading to the two DPRK-USA summits in Singapore and Vietnam, which were welcomed around the world.

The atmosphere during the one-year anniversary of the adoption of the historic Panmunjom Statement partly reflects the challenges in relations between the RoK and the DPRK. In fact, the efforts to improve the inter-Korean relations have always faced many difficulties because of the impacts from the issues of denuclearisation and the DPRK-US ties. Therefore, it remains a thorny path towards realising the dream of an era of peace on the Korean Peninsula, requiring greater efforts from the two Koreas, as well as goodwill and support from the international community.