North Korea and South Korea make nuclear pledge at historic summit
The past year involved a lot of talk of "big red buttons" and other alarming threats from the "little rocket man". But the wordy quips about the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, became less amusing and all too real as he continued to flex his nuclear power through more and more missile tests.
Kim Jong-un and his family have famously held the north part of the Korean peninsula, officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, under a strict regime that has left the rest of the world shocked at the conditions under which the nation survives.
However, a historical event marked the calendar on Friday when the leaders of North and South Korea met to discuss denuclearization, as well as a peace treaty between the two nations. Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met yesterday in South Korea and have agreed to terms that will help accomplish this.
The two leaders agreed to work together to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, which comes as a huge announcement following the all-too-frequent missile demonstrations from the North.
"South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," read a statement signed by both Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. "The South and the North agreed to work diligently to win the international community’s support and cooperation for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
They set the aim of total denuclearization within the year, and they also wish to work towards declaring an official end to the Korean War by next year.
It was the first time Kim Jong-un – or any North Korean leader – set foot over the border to the South. The peace treaty the leaders vowed to negotiate will also involve talks with the United States, who played a big part in the Korean War of 1950-1953 that divided the peninsula.
Their historic summit meeting took place at the border village of Panmunjom, with reports saying the agreements were made with some surprisingly relaxed moments between the leaders. It was a closely guarded meeting, with many uncertain about what to expect from the North Korean leader. However, it is reported he was generally good-natured, even ushering sweeping statements such as, "I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation." He was also surprisingly honest about the conditions and differences between North and South Korea.
Other things the two leaders agreed on achieving include an end to "hostile activities" between the two nations and changing the Demilitarised Zone dividing the country into a "peace zone". They wish to reunite families who were split up by the war and build modern connections across the border. In terms of greater diplomacy, the north and south also want to unite to push for three-way talks with the US and China.
Some remain skeptical of the North for keeping their promise, and others have little faith in the nuclear pledge given that no specific course of action was outlined. Nevertheless, it's a gesture that inspires hope for a better future.