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Why should I care about the North and South Korean leaders’ meeting?

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Why should I care about the North and South Korean leaders’ meeting?

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2261203) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2261203) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2261203) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cassie Huffman, Video Editor

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On Friday, history was made as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in agreed to meet and discuss the future of their countries. It began with Jong Un and Jae-in shaking hands, both respectively on their own side of the border in the demilitarized zone. Then, Jong Un made history as the first North Korean leader to step onto South Korean soil. They shook hands and posed for photographs that were taken on both sides of the border.

But the historic moment was not over just yet. Jong Un motioned for Jae-in to step onto the North Korean side. Jae-in, wary at first, was taken hands by Jong Un and together they stepped into North Korea. They shook hands and discussed for a brief moment before re-entering back into South Korea to have a meeting with officials.

After their meeting, a symbolic tree-planting took place in the demilitarized zone. The leaders planted a tree from 1953, which was the year the Korean War armistice was signed. This document ended hostilities of the Korean War and until now, both countries had remained completely separated.

Following the ceremonial tree-planting, Jong Un and Jae-in signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. According to the New York Times, Jong Un told Jae-in “he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country.” In signing this document, the countries committed to having a nuclear-free peninsula. Jong Un said he would work towards removing nuclear test sites in months to come.

As for President Donald Trump, he tweeted on Friday, “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” The next day he tweeted that he “Just had a long and very good talk with President Moon of South Korea. Things are going very well, time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set.”

The declaration signed will also help bring together families who have been torn apart since the Korean War. When the war first began, many North Koreans fled to South Korea, but many family members were left behind. Today about 70,000 applications remain to reunite with family members left in North Korea according to the South Korean government. On August 15 of this year, the leaders have agreed on National Liberation Day to reunite separated families. It will also work to unify the Korean cultures.

The Panmunjom Declaration also includes many more factors which will push for a more cohesive culture. Things like a joint liaison office where representatives of both sides will be able to discuss will be built, and the countries will be jointly participating in the 2018 Asian Games together and modernized transportation between Seoul and Sinuiju will be built for utilization.

In addition to promises of making peace, Jong Un said that North Korea will sync times with South Korea, which was 30 minutes ahead of them. In 1912, the Japanese forced the Koreans to match the Japanese time zone, bringing Korea into the Japanese Empire. But on August 15, 2015, North Korea changed their time back to the pre-Japanese colonial Korea time. This was viewed as a way for North Korea to break apart from the imperialists. So now in light of the newfound peace, North Korea will return to South Korea’s standard time.

But some remain skeptical about the authenticity of these meetings. Back in November of 2017, North Korea conducted several nuclear and missile testings. The following month, South Korean news said that they had a decapitation unit that would assassinate Jong Un if a war were to break out. Then in January, Trump tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is much bigger & more powerful than his, and my Button works!”

Analysts find suspicion also in Jong Un’s use of words. The declaration states “the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” which analysts believe should have instead said “the denuclearization of North Korea.” But the joint statement that was released by Jong Un and Rae-in stated that they would work to have “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization.”

Trump hopes to meet with Jong Un and Rae-in soon to further discuss the steps that will need to be taken to find peace between all countries involved. “What we want to see from them is evidence that it’s real, and not — not just rhetoric,” White House national security adviser John Bolton said on CBS. Since the meeting between the Korean leaders has taken place and the declaration has been signed, propaganda on both sides of the Korean border has been taken down as steps to continue the new peace.

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Why should I care about the North and South Korean leaders’ meeting?