December 12, 2018

Soldiers Shake Hands in the DMZ

Instead of pointing guns at each other, soldiers from North and South Korea shook hands at the demarcation line in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two sides of Korea. These sort of things happened only in imaginative Korean movies, but is now a solid reality. Hope this welcoming momentum of genuine peace continues and spills over to multilateral negotiations, agreements and implementations to ensure lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula.

Fact Check: This piece erroneously says the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created in 1948. Actually, the 38th Parallel was the arbitrary boundary proposed by the U.S. for zonal occupation of liberated Korea at the end of WWII and accepted by the USSR in 1945 that remained as a boundary until the war broke out in 1950. The DMZ was created in 1953 as a part of the Korean War armistice agreement, which still is in effect pending a long-promised peace treaty.

November 12, 2018

"Produce Diplomacy": Another Sign of Warming Inter-Korean Relations.

South Korea has airlifted 200 tons of famous tangerines from Jeju Island to North Korea in return for shipments of pine mushrooms by the North in September. Are we seeing a "Produce Diplomacy" at work? It is another sign of warming inter-Korean relations. READ MORE

A New Role for the United Nations Command in Korea?

Is there a way for the United Nations Command, a vestige of the Korean War, to play a role in fostering the peace process in Korea? There should be, as it is awkward for the belligerent of the Korean War (the UN Command in Korea, led by US military) to remain unchanged after 65 years, at a time when both sides of Korea are now members of the United Nations. Shouldn't the UN revert to its intended role and be an arbiter of peace settlement in Korea?  READ MORE (article by Tim Shorrck)

The above photo was taken prior to the current warming of inter-Korean relations, when tensions ran high with security alerts at Panmunjeom, situated within the Demilitarized Zone. Now, the scene is much less tense, as the two sides of Korea works to demilitarize the DMZ by demining the area, removing armed guard posts and heavy arms from the area.

Inter-Korean Sports Cooperation Bear Results

South and North Korea agree to integrate respective branches of Taekwondo (natural thing to do as taekwondo is a universal Korean tradition that came way before the division of Korea) -- another fruit of inter-Korean rapprochement, along with the proposal for a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics.
Read more.

October 26, 2018

Inter-Korean Natural Gas Pipelines Envisioned

Another positive development in the Korean Peninsula that will surely help in defusing tensions in the region, similar to the planned inter-Korean rail and road links, that may lead to the whole peninsula's direct linkage to the Eurasian landmass. READ MORE

Inter-Korean Military Cooperation Expands

The two sides of Korea are moving forward rapidly and widely with the demilitarizing process in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), making the DMZ live up to its name for the first time since its inception in 1953. The next logical step is to officially end the Korean War by replacing the current armistice agreement with peace treaty, READ MORE

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.