For the first time since the Korean War when Kim Il-sung attempted to reunite the divided Korean people, a member of the DPRK’s leading family has travelled south of the 38th parallel. Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo- jong has met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in along with the DPRK’s powerful President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam.
This represents the highest level meeting between DPRK and South Korean officials since Kim Jong-un assumed the leadership of North Korea in 2011. While the US continues to meddle in Korean political affairs with its large military/weapons presence in the South and its aggressive sanctions and military threats against the North, the Winter Olympic Games, which has been officially opened in South Korea’s Pyeongchang, has been the proximate cause of a renewed Sunshine Policy of rapprochement between the two Korean states.
Beyond the Olympics however, it is clear that a majority of Koreans are hoping that increased contacts between the two states will lead the US to reconsider any military measures against the DPRK, which would likely result in the death of millions on either side of the border. It is important to note that it was during Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Address where he stated that his country is ready to open up channels of communication with the South, while reiterating that the DPRK holds no animus to fellow Koreans living in the RoK (Republic of Korea). This is a further sign that the confidence the DPRK has attained since fully developing its nuclear deterrent, can actually have positive repercussions for peace between Seoul and Pyongyang.
Kim’s olive branch was received with grace by the moderate Moon Jae-in. The immediate result has been an agreement by both Korean states to jointly march under a Unity Flag during the Winter Olympic Games, while Koreans from both states will compete under the same flag during several prominent sporting events.
But more important than the Olympics, is the prospect for continued cooperation in the future. In Autumn of 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a tripartite economic cooperation scheme between Seoul, Pyongyang and Moscow. Representatives from both Korean states have expressed a positive stance on these proposals, which could help to ease tensions in the region in the long term by fostering peace through prosperity on the win-win model favoured by both Russia and China.
While the US has expressed little joy at the fact that two historic rival states are now engaged in close communication as well as diplomatic and cultural exchange, the rest of the world, including Russia and China have applauded efforts of the two Korean states to bring a single Korean people closer together.