September 19, 2018

Inter-Korean Rapprochement Advances with Third Moon-Kim Summit

Great progress towards (officially and mutually) ending the Korean War and a viable peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula has been achieved with the third inter-Korean summit between President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Wide-ranging inter-Korean cooperation in military, economic, cultural/sports, and humanitarian affairs are in the works. Hopefully these developments will foster quicker Washington-Pyongyang and Tokyo-Pyongyang rapprochements. 

Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 19, 2018  [Full Text]

Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea held the Inter-Korean Summit Meeting in Pyongyang on September 18-20, 2018.

The two leaders assessed the excellent progress made since the adoption of the historic Panmunjeom Declaration, such as the close dialogue and communication between the authorities of the two sides, civilian exchanges and cooperation in many areas, and epochal measures to defuse military tension.

The two leaders reaffirmed the principle of independence and self-determination of the Korean nation, and agreed to consistently and continuously develop inter-Korean relations for national reconciliation and cooperation, and firm peace and co-prosperity, and to make efforts to realize through policy measures the aspiration and hope of all Koreans that the current developments in inter-Korean relations will lead to reunification.

The two leaders held frank and in-depth discussions on various issues and practical steps to advance inter-Korean relations to a new and higher dimension by thoroughly implementing the Panmunjeom Declaration, shared the view that the Pyongyang Summit will be an important historic milestone, and declared as follows.

1. The two sides agreed to expand the cessation of military hostility in regions of confrontation such as the DMZ into the substantial removal of the danger of war across the entire Korean Peninsula and a fundamental resolution of the hostile relations.

① The two sides agreed to adopt the "Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain" as an annex to the Pyongyang Declaration, and to thoroughly abide by and faithfully implement it, and to actively take practical measures to transform the Korean Peninsula into a land of permanent peace.

② The two sides agreed to engage in constant communication and close consultations to review the implementation of the Agreement and prevent accidental military clashes by promptly activating the Inter-Korean Joint Military Committee.

2. The two sides agreed to pursue substantial measures to further advance exchanges and cooperation based on the spirit of mutual benefit and shared prosperity, and to develop the nation's economy in a balanced manner.

① The two sides agreed to hold a ground-breaking ceremony within this year for the east-coast and west-coast rail and road connections.

② The two sides agreed, as conditions ripe, to first normalize the Gaeseong industrial complex and the Mt. Geumgang Tourism Project, and to discuss the issue of forming a west coast joint special economic zone and an east coast joint special tourism zone.

③ The two sides agreed to actively promote south-north environment cooperation so as to protect and restore the natural ecology, and as a first step to endeavor to achieve substantial results in the currently on-going forestry cooperation.

④ The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of prevention of epidemics, public health and medical care, including emergency measures to prevent the entry and spread of contagious diseases.

3. The two sides agreed to strengthen humanitarian cooperation to fundamentally resolve the issue of separated families.

① The two sides agreed to open a permanent facility for family reunion meetings in the Mt. Geumgang area at an early date, and to promptly restore the facility toward this end.

② The two sides agreed to resolve the issue of video meetings and exchange of video messages among the separated families as a matter of priority through the inter-Korean Red Cross talks.

4. The two sides agreed to actively promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields so as to enhance the atmosphere of reconciliation and unity and to demonstrate the spirit of the Korean nation both internally and externally.

① The two sides agreed to further promote cultural and artistic exchanges, and to first conduct a performance of the Pyongyang Art Troupe in Seoul in October this year.

② The two sides agreed to actively participate together in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and other international games, and to cooperate in bidding for the joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.

③ The two sides agreed to hold meaningful events to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the October 4 Declaration, to jointly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement Day, and to hold working-level consultations toward this end.

5. The two sides shared the view that the Korean Peninsula must be turned into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats, and that substantial progress toward this end must be made in a prompt manner.

① First, the North will permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch platform under the observation of experts from relevant countries.

② The North expressed its willingness to continue to take additional measures, such as the permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yeongbyeon, as the United States takes corresponding measures in accordance with the spirit of the June 12 US-DPRK Joint Statement.

③ The two sides agreed to cooperate closely in the process of pursuing complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

6. Chairman Kim Jong-un agreed to visit Seoul at an early date at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.

June 25, 2018

Reduction of Tensions in the Korean Peninsula

Tension-reducing developments in the Korean Peninsula following the historic US-DPRK Summit (June 12, 2018, Singapore):

1) Suspension of joint US-South Korea military exercises
2) Return of remains of Korean War-era US war dead in North Korea
3) Suggestion of demilitarizing the DMZ
4) Talks of moving North Korean artillery installations away from the front.
5) Cancellation of anti-US rally in Pyongyang
6) Work underway to link railway between the two sides of Korea
7) Possible performance by North Korean musical group in Washington, DC in the fall

June 20, 2018

Korea Peace Advocacy Days

More than 60 activists from 20 states gathered in DC for Korea peace advocacy days, sponsored by the Korea Peace Network, composed of U.S. peace organizations and Korean American civic organizations — on the day of the US-DPRK Summit in Singapore, a potential breakthrough in relations between the US and North Korea. 

Activists held a day-long conference at the United Methodist Building on June 11,highlighted by a keynote speech by Congressman Ro Khanner. The group held a peace vigil in front of the White House, just few hours before the start of the Summit. Then on June 12, the participants visited the Congress to advocate for the peace process in the Korean Peninsula

June 7, 2018

Korean Americans Call for Genuine Peace Ahead of Kim-Trump Summit


Ahead of the much-anticipated U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled to take place on June 12, Korean Americans are speaking out for an end to “seven decades of hostile relations” between the two countries and a “new era of peace.”

Joined by civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and renowned social critic Noam Chomsky, 153 organizations across the United States and around the world released a joint statement today calling for a formal end to the Korean War and replacing the 1953 armistice with a permanent peace treaty to move towards establishing normal relations between the two countries.

HK Suh, Vice President of the National Association of Korean Americans, one of the forty-six Korean American organizations that initiated the joint statement, said, “Korean Americans want genuine peace on the Korean peninsula. The unresolved status of the Korean War has been at the root of the U.S.-North Korea conflict. It is our hope that when the leaders of the United States and North Korea meet in Singapore, they will pledge to sign a peace treaty and normalize relations.”

Christine Hong, of the Korea Policy Institute said, "North Korea has paved the way for this peace process to unfold, including by releasing three Korean Americans imprisoned for hostile acts in North Korea and dismantling its nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri. The time is ripe for Donald Trump to meet positive action with positive action, with the goal of creating a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and thereby setting a historic precedent for global disarmament."

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., who endorsed the joint statement, said, “We are on the brink of resolving a seven-decade old conflict that almost turned into a nuclear war. Leaders in Washington should put aside partisan interests in the historic interest of global peace and resolve to support a peace agreement that will lead to a unified Korea and normalized relations between the United States and North Korea.”

The full text of the “Statement of Unity by Korean Americans and Allies on the Historic Inter-Korean Summit and the Upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit” and list of endorsers can be viewed here:

May 1, 2018

Fast Progress on Inter-Korean Thaw After the Summit

Fast progress on inter-Korean thaw after the summit:

1) Dismantling of provocative border propaganda speakers
2) Synchronizing time zone for the two sides of Korea -- benefitting upcoming inter-Korea exchanges and commerce
3) Working towards linking railway between the two sides, enabling future continous land trip from South Korea to Europe.
4) Talks of multiple unfied sports teams at the upcoming Asian Games
5) Talks of reviving inter-Korean liason/business office at the Kaesung industrial complex
6) Working to arrange reunion of separated families during the August 15 Libereation Day period
7) Upcoming high-level military talks to reduce military tension, including making the contested and volatile sea border area in the West Sea as "peace zone" for mutual fishing activities

And ---
-- Unprecedented 80% approval rating for President Moon after the summit
-- Extensive and transparent coverage of the summit in the North Korean state media
-- Big sigh of relief for Koreans, especially those living close to the border

The Breakthrough Moon-Kim Summit

A picture speaks a thousand words .... Remarkable photo, among many, of the historic inter-Korean summit that took place at the Panmunjeom/Demilitarized Zone, symbolizing the will of the two sides of Korea to officially end the Korean War and to propel towards a long-lasting peace settlement in the peninsula.

The border crossings at the Panmunjeom reminds of the famous words "Whose land is this, if Koreans cannot move back and forth [between the south and the north] in their own land?" -- popularized after the artificial division of Korea after the World War II.

Now, Koreans have taken the bold initiative in formally ending the Korean War and breaking down barriers to a lasting peace settlement.

In normal times, all those wishing to cross the border line at the Panmunjeom need to get permission from the US commander in charge of the nominal Korean War-era UN Command role. The two Korean heads of state ignored that archaic protocol by casually stepping back and forth on the border line. In fact, during the summit, no US soldiers were in sight at the Panmunjeom.

Koreans have taken ownership of the narrative of their own future. The world should respect that and ensure that true peace prevails in the Korean Peninsula.

April 2, 2018

Spring Thaw in the Korean Peninsula

Spring thaw brings a flurry of activities in the Korean Peninsula -- South Korean musicians and tae kwon do athletes performed in Pyongyang in good will cultural exchanges in the midst of renewed inter-Korean rapprochement, while Kim Jong-un chats with South Korea's K-Pop stars and explores further summit with Russia and Japan, all while the US-South Korea military exercises are taking place in and around South Korea. The third inter-Korean summit is taking place on April 27, followed by first-ever US-DPRK summit in May. Hope a lasting peace and security for all will come out of all these developments.