A Non-Nuclear Korean Peninsula

By David Giacomini

With the semester coming to an end, college students have many more immediate things to worry about than keeping up with the news. But the last few weeks have been full of interesting news stories. FBI raids in New York City, the NFL draft and William and Kate having a new royal baby. But the thing that has captured my attention the most was the possibility of a meeting between North Korea, South Korea and the United States. This meeting has the possibility to decrease tensions along one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world.

It might be hard for people in the United States to understand the concept of being in a state of war for sixty-eight years. The Korean War was one of the first “hot” conflicts in the Cold War, starting when Communist forces from the North invaded the southern part of the country in 1950. While an armistice ended open hostilities in 1953, there has never been a true end to the war. Anxiety has only been increased over the years by North Korea’s repeated attempts to gain nuclear weapons. This in turn has led to numerous countries, like the United States, placing economic restrictions on North Korea. While the U.S. has tried repeatedly to meet with North Korea and have them give up their nuclear pursuits, their attempts have failed.

Until now. In a historic event, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has traveled to South Korea to meet with president Moon Jae-in. This meeting might be followed by an even more historic meeting; one between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump. Friday morning (Korea time), Kim and Moon met at the North/South Korean border at Panmunjom, the same town where the armistice was signed sixty-five years ago. Kim Jong-un is the first leader of North Korea to visit the South (not to diminish that fact, but there have only been three leaders of North Korea since 1948). The fact that the discussion of nuclear limitation is even on the table is extremely significant. It can be seen as a sign that North Korea is willing to trade its nuclear arsenal for economic growth. The lifting of sanctions would go along with the drawing back of weapons. In the South Korean model, the process could take two years. The U.S. model could take six months, but it requires the North Koreans to completely dismantle their nuclear program before sanctions would be lifted. Other countries have dismantled their nuclear programs in the past, Libya and Iran are examples of this. But these countries did not possess nuclear weapons like North Korea does.

One of President Trump’s caveats for a meeting between him and Kim Jong-un is immediate nuclear disarmament. This is clearly not easy for the North Koreans, but it is noteworthy that he is willing to sit down for a meeting with Kim Jong-un. While these two men might seem like total opposites, a meeting between these leaders has the possibility of great benefits for the North Korean people. It would be a truly momentous event if after so many years, North Korea would be willing to give up its nuclear stockpile for better economic possibilities. Watching Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in smiling and shaking hands over the DMZ seemed to present the image of two groups willing to work together for the benefit of both. Hopefully, this energy will continue through the talks and any possible meetings between the U.S. and North Korea.

David is a senior History major with a minor in Photography

Graphic by David Giacomini

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