In April 2018, history was made as North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, stepped over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to shake hands with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Two months later, Kim Jong-un met with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in Singapore – marking the first time the leaders of both rival nations met in history. The Singapore meeting was set up on the premise to ask North Korea to end its missile drills in the Korean Peninsula while requesting Jong-un to stop the country’s nuclear program. The following months witnessed several peaceful gestures from all parties involved – as the U.S. lifted trade sanctions on North Korea following the release of three American prisoners from detainee camps. Finally, on 19th September, after a joint meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un finally offered to execute an array of actions towards ending their nuclear program and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.
The 2-day meeting was hosted in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang. Based on the change in diplomacy that occurred between the two nations in the past months, President Moon was optimistic going into the country that repeatedly voiced to attack its neighbor. At the end of the summit, both Presidents gathered in front of around 150,000 North Koreans in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang – noted for hosting the “mass games”. The leaders said that the meeting had ushered in a new era of peace in the Korean Peninsula.
“South and North Korea agreed on a specific step toward denuclearization. It is a very meaningful achievement,” Moon said. Meanwhile, Jong-un also weighed in by saying, “The world is going to see how this divided nation is going to bring about a new future on its own.”
Jong-un also divulged the details of the next step that North Korea plans on taking to ensure complete denuclearization. He said that North Korea vows to shut down one of its main primary missile engine testing site in the northwestern town of Dongchang-ri, in the presence of foreign experts. The facility was a key test center for North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States. Jong-un also stated that he expects America to reciprocate the activity by permanently removing the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean Attack.
Such an action would only occur if the U.S. genuinely believes North Korea’s sudden change in diplomatic strategy. Donald Trump hailed the summit between the two Korean leaders, calling the result a “tremendous progress” and “very good news”. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants to restart American nuclear talks with North Korea while seeking denuclearization by 2021. The decision arrived after several members of Congress were concerned that the summit would undermine American efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.
The summit between the two Korean nations also brought out several other outcomes. Both countries have pledged to develop rail and road connecting them within a year and remove 11 guard posts in the DMZ by the end of 2018. The leaders also agreed to create ‘buffer zones’ along their border to prevent accidental clashes. They also decided to jointly bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics to be held in both nations. Kim Jong-un has also stated that he would visit Seoul in the near future, which would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.