The two leaders of the Koreas met yesterday in an historic summit and promised to work together to bring an official end to the Korean War along with a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It was an event sixty-five years in the making.
Hostilities in the Korean War ended in 1953 with a cease-fire between the nations but an official peace treaty was never signed. The signing of one now will likely prove tricky as several large sticking points remain, including a likely demand from North Korea and China, that American troops leave the South. The U.S. has nearly 24,000 troops stationed permanently in the country.
All sides remain hopeful that an agreement will be worked out after a day filled with fascinating political stagecraft. The ceremonies began with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un walking, alone, across the border and being greeted there by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon then briefly crossed the border back into the North along Kim before crossing back, together, into the South.
The two then met, along with their delegations for a series of talks and press conferences. One of the most fascinating events was private, one-on-one stroll the two leaders took in a wooded area in the border village of Panmunjom, where the meetings were taking place. The two sat at a nearby table, alone, and spoke for nearly thirty minutes.
“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” a statement released by the leaders read.
“I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation,” Mr. Kim added.
Few details on subsequent steps were released but all sides appeared to be sincere in their efforts to bring about peace. “I don’t think he’s playing,” President Trump said of Mr. Kim during an Oval Office meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday. “We’re not going to be played, O.K.? We’re going to hopefully make a deal; if we don’t, that’s fine,” he added.
The President struck a decidedly more optimistic tone on Twitter yesterday, declaring, “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!”
“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. Also spoke to Prime Minister Abe of Japan to inform him of the ongoing negotiations,” he wrote this morning.
It was recently revealed that Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo met secretly with Kim Jong Un last month in North Korea. Pompeo was there to discuss the terms of a possible summit with President Trump.
The President has indicated that a meeting between he and Kim will likely take place in late May or early June, with Mongolia and Singapore now being discussed as finalists for possible locations.
Reports are that Mr. Kim was remarkably candid, even jovial during the summit with Moon. When Moon spoke of wanting to visit North Korea, he joked, “It will be very embarrassing,” alluding to the state of the roads in that country.
When speaking of repeated ballistic missile tests the North ran over recent years on Kim’s orders, he said to Moon, “I heard you had your early-morning sleep disturbed many times because you had to attend the N.S.C. meetings because of us. Getting up early in the morning must have become a habit for you. I will make sure that your morning sleep won’t be disturbed.”
“Now I can sleep in peace,” Moon replied jokingly.
Photo by South Korean Blue House