President Kim Jong Un of North Korea and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea declared a new era of peace is on the rise, following denuclearization talks on Friday, April 27.
Kim appeared at the summit as he had never been seen before. Making witty and self-deprecating jokes, presenting criticism of his own country’s infrastructure, and smiling alongside his South Korean counterpart, Kim was undeniably different from his father Kim Jong II.
The new side of Kim means peace might be a possibility for the Koreas at last, reports BBC News, with hopes for denuclearization on the rise. During the summit, Kim promised he would no longer awaken Moon with early-morning missile launches. The peace talks come only months after threats of nuclear war agitated the Korean peninsula.
North and South Korea have been at war for 68 years, reports Reuters, because the truce called in 1953 is not a treaty and cannot technically be considered an end to the war which started in 1950. Kim is the first leader of North Korea to cross the military demarcation line since 1950.
President Trump also claims some role in the summit’s success, following President Moon’s statements that Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in initiating the talks.
Indeed, the success of the denuclearization plan somewhat relies on Trump in the weeks to come. An upcoming peace summit between Trump and Kim will determine the plausibility of denuclearization, and clear up some standing haziness over the exact meaning of the term, and how it will be achieved. Assuming those talks are successful, Trump says, complete denuclearization can be expected in three to four weeks.
In the meantime, a flurry of diplomatic action strikes the Korean peninsula, with China sending its top diplomat to North Korea on Wednesday, May 2, and South Korea sending diplomats to Japan for briefings.
Besides denuclearization, the leaders also agreed to end “hostile activities” between the two nations, end propaganda broadcasts in the DMZ, begin arms reductions, start four-way talks with the US and China, organize reunions of families separated by the war, connect and modernize railroads across the Korean border, and participate further in international sporting events like the 2018 Asian Games.
While some analysts are skeptical of North Korea’s willingness to execute the peace accords, South Korea’s trust for the North is higher than it has been in decades, accompanied by a surge in South Korea’s stock market. Most of the surge is comprised of construction companies, train corporations, and steel manufacturers who are looking to cash in on the anticipated rebuilding of North Korea’s infrastructure.
The future of a peaceful Korea may look possible to South Koreans, but the world still has to hold its breath for the meeting between Trump and Kim. The Trump administration is currently preparing for its meeting with Kim, which will most likely be in Singapore.